What is the purpose of an International Law Blog in times of crisis?
Open letter from the Editors of the International Law Agendas.
When we occasionally remember the great masters of the discipline of International Law in Brazil (Accioly, Bevilacqua, Lafayette, Russomano, Sá Vianna, Valladão, among many others) we realize that there is something they have in common: they never wrote a blog post. In their imposing libraries and gleaming desks, the idea of reacting quickly to an international legal fact probably did not even flash through the minds of jurists who were busy writing the Brazilian positions vis-à-vis and versions of the jus gentium.
We are pleased to write this open letter to launch International Law Agendas - the blog of the Brazilian branch of the International Law Association (ILA). The proposal, long-incubated and discussed within the scope of ILA’s Board of Directors, aims to create a space that the great masters did not have: a democratic space with near-live access for discussion and advancement of the debate on International Law from a Brazilian perspective. We seek a space that serves as a concrete source of information and analysis, but also for critical reflection on the different branches of International Law, and the different approaches that it allows.
In short, a space for us to discuss several Agendas.
With its defenders and opponents, blogs on International Law are now a reality in academic debate in several languages. They allow for rapid reaction, updates, scholarly dissemination, and analysis of the foreign legal policy of States and International Organizations. Brazilian researchers participate in these blogs and contribute to these spaces, also opening up opportunities for voices that are still on the path of establishing themselves so that they can readily dialogue with already established voices, and in this way ensure that International Law is not only the “invisible college” of the big names but also note more immediately the contribution of other voices that, although less renowned, are also important. However, there was no Brazilian space for these discussions to take place. It is exactly here that our objective is galvanized: to promote a space for the dissemination and debate of ideas in a more objective format and with wide circulation. As it is linked to ILA-Brazil, the blog would encourage submissions on the major themes of International Law, especially those that are particularly important for Brazil. And because we understand that International Law, by nature, exists due to the need to coordinate different national legal systems, this blog also encourages contributions on developments in the discipline beyond Brazil, encouraging non-Brazilian voices - established and emerging.
The question in our title remains: why start a blog in times of crisis? Duly confined and socially isolated due to the pandemic, writing respectively from Porto Alegre, Sydney, and Belo Horizonte, but in direct contact with other members of the Board, it seemed clear that there is a desire to discuss, a desire to participate and a desire - even - to reflect on the so-called crisis.
This is the topic of the first discussion of this blog: the crisis of International Law. We observed several foreign academics commenting on the problems and resistance that International Law faces today. There is talk, with a more reasonable frequency than we would like, of weakening multilateralism, of resistance to international courts, of the dismantling of international organizations, and of the bankruptcy of the global trading system; perhaps symptomatic of the decline of a liberal international law to the possible emergence of an authoritarian international law. To take stock of the situation, the Editors wrote to each member of the Board asking for a reflection on how the supposed crisis in International Law affects different areas of the field.
The last question is not only a reflection on the crisis but also a reflection on how we, Brazilian internationalists, understand and project the role that Brazil has (or should have) during this time of supposed crisis. Perhaps at the end of reading the posts by our Board (Aziz Tuffi Saliba, Salem Hikmat Nasser, Gustavo Ferraz de Campos Mônaco, Arnaldo Sobrinho de Morais Neto, André de Carvalho Ramos, Cláudia Lima Marques, Fábio Costa Morosini, Flávia de Ávila, Jamile Bergamaschine Mata Says, Lucas Carlos Lima, Lucas Lixinski, Michelle Ratton Sanchez Badin, Paulo Emílio Vauthier Borges de Macedo, Tarin Cristino Frota Mont’Alverne), we can reach a not-so-pessimistic conclusion about the crisis. Perhaps even a more concrete conclusion about the opportunities that the moment offers to the internationalist, as the necessary mediator of two juridical orders. More than ever, the internationalist is called to build bridges, and it is within this framework that ILA-Brazil and this blog seek to intervene.
In addition to the invitation to read, we reinforce here a broader invitation: to participate in posts, submit new content, and contribute to the construction of this space. We are interested in discussing and promoting not one, but several Agendas.