September 14, 2021
International Legal Education
With this post I seek nothing more than prompt the reader to question their experiences, recount their anecdotes and challenge how the way we learned, and what and how we teach today. I invite you to take the chance of making a pause in the inertia that academic life entails, and become part of the discussion on how to transform our discipline to be better researchers and more effective teachers to the lawyers of the future. There is no excuse not to, the debate is alive and happening in fora, such as AfronomicsLaw, REDIAL and TRILA.
These are some reflections I hope will be valuable to anyone who is committed to facing the challenge of making international legal education relevant given the significant changes we, as people concerned with issues related to global justice, are living. International legal education has undoubtedly much to say in such an “eternal” crisis, one we feel is affecting social relations at national and international levels.
So far, we have found that an uncritical Western perspective is favored in the teaching of international law in the region. In many cases, international law is generally presented as a single and objective law that must be applied uniformly in any part of the world and, therefore, leaving no place for regional contextualization or for questioning its premises. Likewise, it is widely preferred to teach it using a bibliography originated in the Global North, despite the substantive contributions of Latin American scholars in International Law and in the Humanities and Social Sciences. These contributions have been made invisible by the colonial past and globalization processes based on asymmetrical power-knowledge relationships.
This series of blog posts gathers perspectives from international law teachers, researchers and students from different regions and all stages of their careers and legal education, to reflect together on common challenges and imagined futures of our profession. This Symposium is held in a moment of great uncertainty – but also of possibility: the Critical Pedagogy Symposium recently held on Opinio Juris offered thought-provoking commentary from across the globe on critical international pedagogy and the virtual space, while the forthcoming TWAILR series on Critique and the Canon promises stimulating discussion on balancing doctrinal rigour and critical engagement in the classroom.
By infusing international economic law curriculum both with doctrinal and policy-based critical analysis future African legal experts will not only understand what the rules of international economic law are but also be able to challenge the assumptions and biases of those rules that work to the determinate of their respective states. While encouraging black-letter law teaching it should also be a requirement for students to take non-doctrinal international economic law courses.