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Jean d'Aspremont: The Love for International Organizations

On the afternoon of May 25, Jean d'Aspremont, professor of law at Paris and University of the University of Manchester, held an online academic lecture under the title of The Love for International Organizations. The lecture was hosted by Zhang Kangle, assistant professor of Peking University Law School, and Işıl Aral, assistant professor of Cork, Turkey, and Lai Huaxia, assistant professor of School of International Relations, Peking University. In this lecture, Professor Jean d'Aspremont explained the status of international lawyers based on their love for international organizations, and revealed the reasons that drive international lawyers to put international organizations at the center. More than 100 teachers and students inside and outside the school participated in the lecture online through the zoom conference platform, and received a warm response.


This paper presents the core points of the lecture in the form of a transcript.


Jean dAspremont:


International organizations play a very important position in the international legal thought, practice, cognition and emotional world of international legal people. But as scholars, we can never be satisfied with arguments based on the nature of things. Although it is always inevitable to mention international organizations when teaching the course of international law or studying the origin of international law, the centrality of international organizations is constructed based on the love of international legal people for international organizations, rather than naturally formed. Next, Professor Jean Dappmon summed up the nine reasons that drive international lawyers to center international organizations.


First, international organizations have shown an image of caring about the issues of the international community and striving to improve the world. Progressive vism permeates international legal thought. Based on this progressiveness, international organizations constitute a form of "goodness".


Second, international organizations show international lawyers that the place of power - could be in the Security Council, maybe in Washington, or in the IMF office. Once the place of power is determined, one can try to put it under accountability mechanisms, and power becomes something tangible. But it's based on an extremely simple understanding of power, which itself is much more complex.


Third, the decisions of international organizations seem to be based on expertise rather than on politics. While this "managerial" tendency has been criticized, it is still very common.


Fourth, to describe the establishment of international organizations as an important milestone can romanticize the history of international law. Therefore, we always give international organizations an extremely important position in the teaching of international law, believing that international organizations make international law stronger, better, more complex and more organized.


Fifth, international organizations seem to provide a common standard of experience that simplifies the world.


Sixth, international organizations turn the world into a "huge text". We understand the problems of violence and economic sanctions through the treaty texts, and try to solve the world's problems through the production of the texts.


Seventh, international organizations provide new materials and new areas of research for the academic research of international legal persons.


Eighth, international organizations seem to have endless mysteries waiting to be solved.


Ninth, international organizations provide a space to express their dissatisfaction, but at the same time, it also means that the expression of dissatisfaction is always in or confined to the space provided by international organizations and can be predicted. This discontent is very restrained and conservative, never threatening the centrality of international organizations.


Finally, international organizations remain central, but a relevant discussion is necessary from an epistemological perspective. Since the 19th and 20th centuries, international lawyers have tried to make international law a science, because scientific discourse is considered important. All research on emotion is considered not science, but literature or psychology. Professor Jean Dappmon tries to challenge the modernity and scientific nature of international law, and wants to invite international legal people to observe more and pay more attention to the emotional factors that drive specific behaviors.


Işıl Aral:


Professor Jean Dapmon actually created a new field and space, as he said in the lecture, international jurists usually regard international law as a field of science and pretend that what we do is completely political, moral, and ethical, objective, neutral, and just. But there is another possibility: perhaps international legislators are not driven by the positive emotions of love, but by negative emotions, including ambition and pride, to demonstrate successful institutions that are solving the most critical and difficult problems in the world. In addition, power plays an important role, and it is actually very difficult to explain the above drivers without paying attention to the imbalance of power.


Lai Huaxia:


Many international legal people in China and other developing countries have the same love for international organizations. After World War II, the former colonies successively gained independence, and they also tried to advance their agenda through international organizations to protect the newly acquired independence. But it is not just the legal people who are passionate about international organizations, but also the elites of the world. In addition, the rise of other than the international national actors, especially multinational companies——such as during the global outbreak of the big pharmaceutical companies and such as Bill Gates foundation, they cooperate with the world health organization, and put forward the new governance and management mode. With the growing influence of business organizations on the world political stage, the future direction of international organizations is still a question worth considering.


Brief introduction of the Scholar:


Jean d'Aspremont is a professor of international law at the Institute in Paris, France, and a professor of international law at the University of Manchester. He is the editor-in-chief of the "Cambridge Studies in International Law and Comparative Law" series, the head of the "Oxford International Organic Law" (OXIO) database and the editor of the "Merlan Schir Studies on International Law" series. He has written extensively on the issues of international law, and his work has been translated into many languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, and Persian.


Translated by: Liu Zhongzheng

Edited by: Ren Zhiyi