Thursday, 5 April: Legal forms of inter-alterity (A critical study in private international law) by Horatia Muir Watt

Legal Forms of Inter-Alterity (A Critical Study in Private International Law)

By Prof. Horatia Muir Watt


We can understand the discipline of private international law as a depository of ideas about the foreign, and metaphorically, the other, formulated as a series of highly elaborate legal concepts, theories, doctrines, definitions and tools. The discipline is supposed to be essentially methodological, meaning that it it is composed exclusively of modes of reasoning that operate at a meta-level (without touching the « substance » of legal issues). These are triggered whenever they detect an exogenous « fact », at which point they proceeed to distribute, allocate and partititon (whether jurisdictions, laws, disputes). The methodological choices involved presuppose various assumptions about legal orders or the societies they govern, their mutual relationships and the geo-political context in which they interact.

It is quite remarkable that despite the quasi-existential link between the discipline and intercultural encounters, ideological confrontations, or conflicts of ideals and values between communities, the discipline remains insulated or aloof from current debates about thinking and managing diversity across the (other) social sciences. This is no doubt because it was constructed historically around a recurring methodological quarrel about the respective virtues of two available formal modalities of distributing laws or allocatig facts; these continue to be debated on the massively technical register of internal critique. In other words, the focus of discussion is the coherence or the efficiency of either mode of reasoning, and very rarely their signification in terms of philosophy, politics, esthetics or epistemology as they translate into the legal field. The attending risk as famously denounced by realist critics is that of a fetichization of technique ; private international law’s tools exert a form of fascination that prevents looking beyond form to substance. Like black holes, the legal mechanics get so dense that they absorb the energy of the observor and blind to the deeper meaning and wider impact of the tlegal forms involved.

It is no doubt today’s need to grasp how law looks and operates beyond the horizon of the state that makes it particularly urgent to attune private international law’s peculiar methods to other, surrounding disciplines and understand its reactions to otherness in political, ethical or aesthetic terms. Nowhere is the study of this interdisciplinary ecology of law more important than as an accompaniment to contemporary efforts to devise and theorize a global law (or map its « intimations ») that would bypass the state’s institutional structure and revisit the moral foundations of authority. Indeed, the « global turn » in law is not limited, as it would sometimes seem, to markets but involves societies, cultures and ideologies. Moreover, it is not because globalization multiplies foreign encounters and smoothes over differences that ethnocentrism has disappeared – on the contrary, it is reproduced and displaced in a form of global-centrism. What follows, therefore, will focus on methods of private international law as expressions, in legal form, of attitudes towards otherness that bear political, ethical and aesthetic meaning in a world of accelerated encounters of a legal kind.

Thursday, April 5th, 2018
12.30 – 14.00

Sciences Po Law School
Meeting room (410T) – 4th floor
13, rue de l’Université – Paris 7ème






Friday, 23 March – Epistemic Jurisdiction: Science, Expertise and Standardisation as Global Governance – by David Winickoff

Epistemic Jurisdiction: Science, Expertise and Standardisation as Global Governance

David Winickoff

Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

While there is ample scholarly work on regulatory science within the state, or single-sited global institutions, there is less on its operation within complex modes of global governance that are decentered, overlapping, multi-sectorial and multi-leveled. Using a co-productionist framework, Prof. Winickoff will identifie ‘epistemic jurisdiction’ – the power to produce or warrant technical knowledge for a given political community, topical arena or geographical territory – as a central problem for regulatory science in complex governance. We explore these dynamics in the arena of global sustainability standards for biofuels. We select three institutional fora as sites of inquiry: the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, and the International Organization for Standardization. These cases allow us to analyze how the co-production of sustainability science responds to problems of epistemic jurisdiction in the global regulatory order. First, different problems of epistemic jurisdiction beset different standard-setting bodies, and these problems shape both the content of regulatory science and the procedures designed to make it authoritative. Second, in order to produce global regulatory science, technical bodies must manage an array of conflicting imperatives – including scientific virtue, due process and the need to recruit adoptees to perpetuate the standard. At different levels of governance, standard drafters struggle to balance loyalties to country, to company or constituency and to the larger project of internationalization. Confronted with these sometimes conflicting pressures, actors across the standards system quite self-consciously maneuver to build or retain authority for their forum through a combination of scientific adjustment and political negotiation. Third, the evidentiary demands of regulatory science in global administrative spaces are deeply affected by 1) a market for standards, in which firms and states can choose the cheapest sustainability certification, and 2) the international trade regime, in which the long shadow of WTO law exerts a powerful disciplining function.


Friday, 23 March, 2018 / 14.30 – 16.30

École de droit, Sciences Po, 13 rue de l’Université, 75007 Paris

Meeting Room (4th floor – room 410T)



Due to security measures, access to Sciences Po buildings is restricted.

If you intend to attend the seminar, please send an email to

indicating your full name. Security officers will be provided with the list of participants.

Do not forget to bring a VALID ID.

Friday 9 March 2018 – Standard Contracts as Pathways to Global Markets – the Experience of the London Corn Trade Association (1880-1914) by Professor Jérôme Sgard

Standard Contracts as Pathways to Global Markets – the Experience of the London Corn Trade Association (1880-1914)

Friday, 9 March 2018 / 14.00 – 16.30

Professor Jérôme Sgard

(Professor, Sciences Po Ecole de Droit)

Commodity markets were typically governed during the first global era (ca 1870-1914) by private, London-based “Trade Associations”, managed by a small number of top market insiders. One of their key contribution was to write and constantly adjust a set of Standard Contracts, tailored to each specific commodity and to each country or port of origin. These contracts followed the English contract law and were confirmed and eventually enforced by English courts. But such intervention proved extremely rate, just as, more generally the support from government authorities when dealing with foreign countries or authorities. No concern whatsoever was shown either for rules of international law (private or public). Hence, private ordering on a trade basis and self-enforcement worked pretty well within an overall geopolitical order that was clearly imperialist and hegemonic.


Friday 9 March, 2018

Meeting Room, Ecole de Droit, 14.00 – 16.30

4th floor (room 410T), 13 rue de l’université, 75007 Paris


Due to security measures, access to Sciences Po buildings is restricted.

If you intend to attend the seminar, please send an email to indicating your full name. Security officers will be provided with the list of participants.

Do not forget to bring a VALID ID.

Friday 23 February 2018 – Constitutional Geography and Geopolitics by Professor Günter Frankenberg

Constitutional Geography and Geopolitics

Professor Günter Frankenberg
(Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main – Institute for Public Law)

Partition comes neither naturally nor happens by accident. It results from bitter controversy. War, civil war and occupation often precede territorial separation. Whereas liberation struggles are likely to inspire secession on the part of separatist movements, political division may be the upshot of strategic plans devised by occupying powers and colonial regimes and is liable to be charted in geographical and geopolitical terms. I will discuss models of constitutional geography and constitutional narratives covering or denying partition.

Friday February 23rd, 2018
14.45 – 16.45
Sciences Po, 9 rue de la Chaise, 75007 Paris, Room 933

Due to security measures, access to Sciences Po buildings is restricted.
If you intend to attend the seminar, please send an email to 
indicating your full name. Security officers will be provided with the list of participants.  

Do not forget to bring a VALID ID.

Friday 20th October – Bringing it home: Are Canadian courts suddenly opening up to corporate liability for extra-territorial violations of human rights? by Geneviève Saumier


Bringing it home: Are Canadian courts suddenly opening up to corporate liability for extra-territorial violations of human rights?  

Professor Geneviève Saumier (McGill University)

Discussant: Fabien Marchandier

Friday October 20th, 2017; Room 931, 14.45 – 16.45; C-building, 9 rue de la Chaise, 75007 Paris

Abstract: The Third Pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights prescribes that States must provide access to an effective judicial remedy to address business-related human rights abuses. Denial of access can result from either procedural or substantive barriers. Where the alleged human rights abuse took place in a foreign State, jurisdiction rules may exclude claims against foreign defendants or a court may decline to exercise jurisdiction on forum non conveniens grounds. Even if those procedural barriers can be overcome, substantive obstacles may remain if the claim depends on “piercing the corporate veil” or if the foreign applicable law provides no cause of action. These are well-known and well-documented blind spots of the private international regimes that govern cross-border litigation and that have stood in the way of remedies for corporate violations of human rights.

Canadian corporations have a poor reputation in terms of corporate violations of human rights abroad, most specifically in the extractive industry. A 2009 study revealed that Canadian mining companies had been involved in 33% of worldwide cases of alleged human rights and environmental violations over the preceding ten-year period. While the Canadian government has since sought to address this through a CSR Strategy targeted at the extractive sector, its approach has had no direct implications for access to judicial remedies. This marks a legislative blind spot, since attempts by foreign claimants to seek redress before Canadian courts during the same period had failed, often on jurisdictional grounds, but occasionally also on substantive grounds.

Despite this bleak landscape for corporate social responsibility, there are indications that the tide may be turning. A series of recent decisions by Canadian courts have reversed course, refusing to decline jurisdiction under forum non conveniens and allowing novel claims for direct liability of parent companies for acts of their foreign subsidiaries to go forward. This optimistic development is tempered by the fact that none of these decisions have moved beyond the preliminary stages and most are currently under appeal. Moreover, a recent decision, flowing from the Rana Plaza tragedy, refused to extend this newly-discovered openness to a claim based on supply chains.

The presentation will explore this evolving Canadian jurisprudence, assessing what might appear to be judicial activism in the face of legislative inertia, and analysing the impact it is already having on corporate behaviour by Canadian parent companies.


Due to security measures, access to Sciences Po buildings is restricted.

If you intend to attend the seminar, please send an email to indicating your full name. Security officers will be provided with the list of participants.

Do not forget to bring a VALID ID.

The (private) politics of (legal) space – PILAGG programme for this academic year REVEALED!

Dear friends of PILAGG and private international law,

We are delighted to confirm that PILAGG seminars are back! The overarching theme of this year’s debate series is The (private) politics of (legal) space.

In case you are wondering what is that supposed to mean, please note that we will be focusing on narratives of international law and histories of global space. We will discuss exciting legal issues, such as spatial dynamics of accumulation (histories of international law and capitalism); we will try to identify the gender of space (identities, transnational communities) and the frontiers of human rights ; we will also touch upon the external and internal space (and global legal pluralism); and rediscover the local and the global (new translocalities) ; we will look closely at the cultural space and its tensions between homogenization and heterogenization ; « scapes » or globalized mental pictures of the social world (Appadurai) ; migration and border control AND MORE!

A fascinating strand of thought in this respect comes from Mariana Valverde ‘s Chronotopes of Law, in which she explores Jurisdiction, Scale and Governance (Routledge 2015).

Consider the following : (p82) : « struggles that historically and in the present are waged in a quiet and legalistic manner as fights about jurisdiction actually involve – and end up deciding – much larger extra-legal issues of power and authority ». … « jurisidction can be mor generally dscribed, from a sociolegal ,perspective, as ‘the governance of legal governance’ «   (p83)… « It would be highly inconvenient for the smooth functioning of the law if the how of governance, the qualitative question, were explicitly asked…(p84). The law of jurisdiction, in other words, … is a quite magical power to depoliticize governance » (p.84).

These observations come within a highly innovative framework for analysis of the spatio-temporal workings of law and governance.

We are still in a process of putting together all the bits and pieces for our upcoming events. But, as a TEASER, please find below the first draft of our programme (careful, this is subject to change).

– October 6th : Presentation and opening session (Legal definitions of space)

– October 13th : Darren ROSENBLUM

October 22nd : Geneviève SAUMIER : The Frontiers of Human Rights (a Canadian perspective) ***CONFIRMED

- November : Filipe de SILVA : Historical Capitalism and International law ***CONFIRMED

– November : Gunter FRANKENBERG

– December : Guillame LeBLANC


2016 ASADIP Meeting, University of Buenos Aires, 10 – 11 November

2016 ASADIP Meeting

Asociación Americana de Derecho Internacional Privado organised the 2016 Meeting hosted by the University of Buenos Aires, on 10 – 11 November 2016. The opening keynote lecture on the topic “Do the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts bring any change?” given by Professor Katharina Boele-Woelki, Dean of Bucerius Law School, was introduced by Professor Diego P. Fernández Arroyo from Sciences Po Ecole de Droit. 



Wednesday, November 9

20:00 – Cocktail offered by The Hague Conference on Private International Law


Thursday, November 10

8:45 – 9:00 – Welcome remarks

  • Mónica Pinto (Buenos Aires, Head of Law School of University of Buenos Aires (UBA).
  • José A. Moreno Rodríguez (Asunción, President of ASADIP)

9:00 – 9:30 – Opening keynote lecture

Katharina Boele-Woelki (Hamburg): “Do the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts bring any change?”

Introduced by Diego P. Fernández Arroyo (Paris)

9:30 – 11:00 – Debate: Who fears non-state legislation for the regulation of international contracts? 

  • Ralf Michaels (Duke)
  • Lauro Gama Jr (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Geneviève Saumier (Montreal)
  • Eugenio Hernández-Bretón (Caracas)

Moderated by Francisco Amallo (Buenos Aires)

11:00 – 11.30 – Break

11:30 – 12:45 – Regulation of international contracts: different options in recent Latin American legislation

  • Pablo Debuchy (Asunción)
  • María Elsa Uzal (Buenos Aires)
  • Gilberto Boutin (Panama)
  • Carlos Odriozola Mariscal (Mexico City)

Moderated by Virginia Aguilar (Mexico City)

12:45 – 14:45 – Lunch

14:45 – 16:15 – The future of international regulation of international contracts

  • Mario A. Oyarzábal (Buenos Aires)
  • Hans van Loon (The Hague)
  • José Angelo Estrella Faria (UNIDROIT, Rome)
  • Sandrine Clavel (Versailles)

Moderated by Dante Negro (Washington DC – OAS)

16:15 – 16:45 – Break

16:45 – 18:15 – Debate: Is the 1980 Vienna Convention on Contracts for the CISG properly applied?

  • Alejandro M. Garro (New York)
  • Alberto Zuppi (Buenos Aires)
  • Franco Ferrari (New York)
  • Jorge Oviedo Albán (Bogota)
  • Carolina Iud (Buenos Aires)

Moderated by José Luis Marín (Medellín)

18:15 – 19:15 – Contractualization of secured transactions

  • Spyridon Bazinas (Vienna, UNCITRAL)
  • Paula María All (Santa Fe)

Moderated by Daniela Vargas (Río de Janeiro)

19:15 – Cocktail offered by the Law School of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA)              


Friday, November 11 

09:30 – 11:00 – Interpretation of international contracts by judges and arbitrators

  • María Susana Najurieta (Buenos Aires)
  • Paul Arrighi (Montevideo)
  • Cristian Conejero Roos (Santiago)
  • María Lilia Díaz Cordero (Buenos Aires)

Moderated by Verónica Sandler Obregón (Buenos Aires)

11:00 – 11:30 – Break

11:30 – 13:00 – Debate: Judges or arbitrators for the resolution of international contractual disputes?

  • Eduardo Vescovi (Montevideo)
  • Marilda Rosado (Rio de Janeiro)
  • José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz (h) (Buenos Aires)
  • Pedro Saghy (Caracas)
  • Margie Jaime (Panama)

Moderated by Máximo Bomchil (Buenos Aires)

13:00 – 15:00 – Lunch

15:00 – 16:30 – Weak parties and contractual balance

  • Claudia Madrid Martínez (Caracas)
  • Juan José Obando (San José)
  • Mariela Rabino (Buenos Aires)
  • Luciane Klein Vieira (Campinas)
  • Paula Serra Freire (Caracas)
  • Juan José Cerdeira (Buenos Aires)

Moderated by Ana Elizabeth Villalta (San Salvador)

16:30 – 17:00 – Break

17:00 – 18:30 – Debate: Are there or should there be “Latin American” specificities in the law of international contracts?

  • Julio César Rivera (Buenos Aires)
  • Nadia de Araujo (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Roberto Ruiz Díaz Labrano (Asunción)
  • Aníbal Sierralta Ríos (Lima)
  • Pedro Mendoza Montano (Guatemala)

Moderated by Ricardo Acevedo Peralta (San Salvador)

18:30 – 19:00 – Closing keynote lecture:

Jürgen Basedow (Hamburg): “A theory of party autonomy”

Introduced by Didier Opertti Badán (Montevideo)

19:30 – Reception hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina



November 25th – Economic Transplants and Transnational Law: A Dialogue, by Katja Langenbucher and Brooke Adele Marshall

FRIDAY 25th November 2016, Prof. Katja Langenbucher (Sciences Po Ecole de Droit and Goethe-University’s House of Finance) & Brooke Adele Marshall (Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law)


Economic transplants as a common language? (Prof. Langenbucher)

Processes of “economization” have been observed and described by anthropologists, economists and sociologists (pars pro toto, see the work of Michel Callon). The presentation will focus on a related phenomenon in the world of legal research, law-making and adjudication which I address as “economic transplants“.

I will try, first, to capture reasons for the receptivity of lawyers and policymakers for “transplanting” findings based on economic methodology, both theoretical and empirical, into the law. Second, I shall ask if such “economic transplants“ live up to what they promise as far as legislative work is concerned. Third, economic transplants and the promises they hold are considered in the judicial context.

The presentation will rely on excerpts of a book forthcoming at CUP on “economic transplants“.


The CISG or the PICC as the governing law: normative ambiguities, dépeçage and the purportedly chosen law (Brooke Adele Marshall)

The Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts are “soft” private international law rules. They empower parties to choose either State law or soft “rules of law” to govern their contract, regardless of whether they litigate or arbitrate. This paper investigates the relationship between the Hague Principles and two sets of rules of law which parties may choose: the Unidroit Principles of International Commercial Contracts (PICC) or the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). It makes three principal claims. First, the nature of the Hague Principles and their relationship with the PICC or the CISG gives rise to several normative ambiguities which need clarification. Second, the Hague Principles do not limit the parties’ ability to divide their contract at a choice of law level (horizontal dépeçage): parties can influence not only which rules of law govern the contract but also their content. This is undesirable as a matter of principle. It may also facilitate results which the PICC and the CISG do not intend. Third, the Hague Principles provide that the law which the parties purportedly chose determines whether the parties agreed on a choice of law. They also provide a mechanism which designates the law which the parties purportedly chose in standard contract terms. Applied to rules of law, the suitability of these provisions is questionable: alternatives should be explored.


When? Friday 25 November, 14:30 – 17:30

Where? at Sciences Po Ecole de Droit, 13 rue de l’université, 75007, Paris, Meeting Room (4th floor, room 410T)

International Conflict of Laws and The Third Restatement: Duke symposium, 4-5 November 2016

Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law

Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law is organising a symposium this weekend, on “International Conflict of Laws and the Third Restatement”. For more details, continue reading:


Writing in 2000, Mathias Reimann criticized the Second Restatement of Conflict of Laws for being “largely blind to international concerns.” He argued that since international conflict-of- laws issues have become routine, the next restatement of conflict of laws must be attentive to such issues and that, ideally, it would “come with an implied (or better yet express) warranty that all its principles and rules are fit for international use as well [as for domestic use].” With work on the Third Restatement of Conflict of Laws now underway—and with one of its goals being “to pay greater attention to the international context than the Second Restatement did”—it is time to give careful thought to Professor Reimann’s call for a genuinely international restatement. This conference will bring together leading scholars of conflict of laws to meet with the Third Restatement’s reporters to discuss how the reporters might best address international conflict-of- laws issues and take advantage of comparative methods in their work.



Friday Nov 4:

1:00-2:00 – Lunch

2:00-2:30 – Introduction

  • 2:00-2:10 (DJCIL Welcome (Laura Revolinski)
  • 2:10-2:17 International and Comparative Aspects of Conflict of Laws: Ralf Michaels (Duke)
  • 2:18-2:25 International Conflict-of-Laws Issues and the Third Restatement: Chris Whytock (Associate Reporter; UC Irvine)

2:30-3:45 – Panel 1: Comparative Law and International Law in the New Restatement: Ralf  Michaels and Chris Whytock (Chairs)

  • Conflict of Laws Codifications: How might conflict-of-laws codifications around the world inform work on the Third Restatement? Symeon Symeonides (Willamette/NYU)
  • International Law and International Conflict of Laws: Donald Earl Childress III (Pepperdine)

4:15-5:45 – Panel 2: International versus Interstate Conflicts: TBD and Kim Roosevelt (Reporter; Pennsylvania), (Chairs)

  • Unilateralism versus Multilateralism in International Cases: Hannah Buxbaum (Indiana)

o Conflict of Laws in Supranational and Federal Systems: How might the experiences of the EU and national federal systems inform work on the Third Restatement, in particular regarding its treatment of interstate and international conflict-of-laws issues? Horatia Muir Watt (SciencesPo)

Saturday, Nov 5:

7:30-8:00 – Breakfast

8:00-10:00 – Panel 3—Specific Issues I: TBD and Chris Whytock (Associate Reporter; UC Irvine), Chairs

  • Jurisdiction: Linda Silberman (NYU)
  • Party Autonomy: Richard Fentiman
  • Torts and Contracts: Patrick Borchers (Creighton)

10:30-12:00 Panel 4—Specific International Conflict-of-Laws Issues II: TBD and Laura Little (Associate Reporter; Temple), Chairs

  • Family Law and Domestic Relations: Marriage and Divorce: Ann Laquer Estin (Iowa)
  • Family Law and Domestic Relations: Children: Louise Ellen Teitz (Roger Williams; Hague Conference)

12:15-1:00 – Closing Remarks with closing discussion: Mathias Reimann (Michigan)

1:00 – Lunch to go

Friday 18th November – (Foreign) Law as Self-Fashioning, by Pierre Legrand

FRIDAY 18th November 2016, Professor Pierre Legrand (Sciences Po Ecole de Droit)

The argument is that no account of (foreign) law — no matter how purportedly descriptive — can prove immune from autobiographical input on the part of the interpreter. It follows that no account of (foreign) law is in a position to claim neutrality, impartiality, objectivity, or truth. Any account of (foreign) law must therefore stand or fall by virtue of its persuasive strength, which depends in important ways on ascription of value to one’s interpretation/speculation on the part of one’s readership or audience.

  • Discussant: Professor Mathias Siems (Professor at Durham University)

Full article by Prof. Pierre Legrand can be available at request to participants of the seminar who register in advance.


Obs.: The seminar and the discussion will be held in English. However, it will be possible to address questions in other languages, such as French, Spanish, Italian and German.

When? Friday 18 November, 16:30 – 19:00

Where? at Sciences Po Law School, 13 rue de l’université, 75007, Paris, salle de réunion (4th floor)