This article belongs to the debate » Multiple Legalities
12 January 2021

Conference Programme


Multiple Legalities
Conflict and Entanglement in the Global Legal Order

Virtual Conference, 13 to 15 January 2021

In memoriam Sally E. Merry


Hannah Birkenkötter, Humboldt University, Berlin, and Nico Krisch, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva


Wednesday, 13 January 2021

14:00-14:15 CET/8:00-8:15 EST

Welcome and introduction by the conference conveners

14:15-15:45 CET/8:15-9:45 EST

Navigating Multiplicity in Law (plenary)

How do different actors navigate law’s multiplicity? This panel will bring together perspectives from law, critical theory and legal anthropology to discuss how actors’ engagements with legal norms shifts our understanding of law as a unitary order.

  • Julia Eckert, University of Bern
  • Miguel Maduro, EUI
  • Balakrishnan Rajagopal, MIT
  • Surabhi Ranganathan, University of Cambridge
  • Moderator: Nico Krisch, Graduate Institute Geneva

16:00-17:30 CET/10-11:30 EST

Parallel panels

Panel 1: Colliding Systems or Legal Tapestry?

This panel will analyse different ways in which norms from different legalities are being related: how do different forms of ordering in the field of climate change (standards, guidelines and frameworks) interact with one another? How do norms of environmental protection impact other areas of international law? And how can we best conceptualize the ways in which such norm interactions take place and provide guidance to normative conflicts – are they examples of colliding systems or instead of an emerging legal tapestry?

  • Laura Mai, KCL
  • Jason Rudall, University of Leiden
  • Lars Viellechner, University of Bremen
  • Discussant: Sarah Nouwen, EUI
  • Moderator: Tomer Broude, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Panel 2: (Post)Colonial Legal Encounters

This panel investigates how international law, formal state law and Indigenous and/or religious law interact and relate to one another by contrasting the historical example of 18th century maritime provinces in Canada with contemporary legal disputes from Bangladesh and Nicaragua to. The papers use ethnographic and legal historical methods to better understand those relationships.

  • Tobias Berger, FU Berlin
  • Julie Wetterslev, EUI
  • Robert HamiltonUniversity of Calgary
  • Discussant: Julia Eckert, University of Bern
  • Moderator: Poul F. Kjaer, Copenhagen Business School


Panel 3: Weaving the Law

How do norms get transformed and do new norms emerge from legal interactions? This panel looks at this question with three different case studies of actors weaving different legalities together: World Athletics’ engagement with the norm of gender equality; UNCLOS courts’ and tribunals’ consideration of broader norms of ocean governance; and the impact of corporate social responsibility norms on WTO law.

  • Michele Krech, New York University
  • Lucy Lu Reimers & Tomáš Morochovič,Graduate Institute Geneva
  • Rozemarijn Roland Holst,Utrecht University School of Law
  • Discussant: Larry Catá Backer,Pennsylvania State University
  • Moderator: Oren Perez,Bar-Ilan University

Coffee break

17:45-19:15 CET/11:45-13:15 EST

            Transnational Law’s Multiple Legalities (plenary)

Almost seventy years after Philip Jessup coined the term “transnational law” as “all law which regulates actions or events that transcend national frontiers…both public and private international law”, the public-private law dichotomy is still deeply entrenched in legal thought. This panel brings together scholars who have regularly transcended this dichotomy in their work to discuss how legal multiplicity is impacting on our understanding of transnational law today.

  • Gráinne de Búrca,New York University
  • Ralf Michaels,Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Queen Mary University London, Hamburg University
  • César Rodríguez Garavito,New York University
  • Moderator: Hannah Birkenkötter,HU Berlin


Thursday, 14 January 2021

12:00-13:30 CET/6:00-7:30 EST

Parallel panels

Panel 1: Cyberlegalities

How are online platforms that are used by billions of users around the world regulated? This panel looks at how platform economies such as Facebook or AirBnB are regulated and how they relate with and connect the different legalities they come into contact with. Does this challenge traditional understandings of law?

  • Stefania di StefanoGraduate Institute Geneva, University of Leeds
  • Nofar Sheffi, UNSW Sydney
  • Thomas Streinz, New York University
  • Discussant: Ralf Michaels, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Queen Mary University London, Hamburg University
  • Moderator: Christoph Möllers, HU Berlin


Panel 2: Competing Visions, Intersecting Legalities

When faced with multiple legalities, how do we know what “the law” is, and how is this notion formed by different actors coming at this question from different vantage points? This panel investigates this question through different case studies, ranging from the post-colonial state of Papua New Guinea to Northern Colombia and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

  • Tomer Broude, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Laura Knöpfel, – King’s College London.
  • Miranda Forsyth, Australian National University
  • Discussant: B.S. Chimni,O.P. Jindal Global University
  • Moderator: Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, University of Geneva, Geneva Center for International Dispute Settlement


Panel 3: Networks

Informal, “soft” law has often been investigated through the lens of network authority. This panel contrasts two such perspectives from transnational law – private transnational legal regimes in the field of corporate social responsibility and the transition from and connections between informal and formal law in the field of global financial governance – with a theoretical approach that emphasizes the importance of connectivity norms for the global legal order.

  • Fulya Apaydin & Charles Roger, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals
  • Poul F. Kjaer, Copenhagen Business School
  • Oren Perez,Bar-Ilan University
  • Discussant: Anne Peters,Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law
  • Moderator:  Surabhi Ranganathan, University of Cambridge


14:00-15:30 CET/8:00-9:30 EST

Overlapping Spheres of Authority and Interface Conflicts in the Global Order (plenary)

The Conference on Multiple Legalities is organized as part of the interdisciplinary research group “Overlapping Spheres of Authority and Interface Conflicts in the Global Order”. Three research groups present their main insights from this multi-year collaborative endeavor in conversation with Jeffrey L. Dunoff. Some research results can be found in a Global Constitutionalism Special Issue.

  • Hannah Birkenkötter, HU Berlin
  • Nico Krisch, Graduate Institute Geneva
  • Andrea Liese, University of Potsdam
  • Moderator and comments: Jeff L. Dunoff, Temple University Beasley School of Law

Coffee break

15:45-17:00 CET/9:45-11:00 EST

Multiplicity and Law’s Foundations (plenary)

How does multiplicity in law beyond (and within) the state affect our understanding of the nature of law? In this discussion, international law scholar Sarah Nouwen engages in a conversation with legal philosophers Brian Z. Tamanaha and Christoph Möllers to take stock of the debate and its implications for theories of law.

  • Sarah Nouwen, EUI
  • Brian Z. Tamanaha, Washington University
  • Christoph Möllers, HU Berlin


Friday, 15 January 2021

14:00-15:30 CET/8:00-9:30 EST

Parallel panels

Panel 1: Invisible Drivers Behind Formal Law

Formal legal rules do not appear out of thin air. Rather, their emergence is conditioned by frameworks that are invisible to the formalist perspective. This panel looks at how formal law is driven by an array of less visible factors: data, algorithms, and broader “background rules”.

  • Larry Catá Backer, Pennsylvania State University
  • Pascal McDougall, Harvard Law School
  • Gabriele Wadlig, New York University
  • Discussant: Balakrishnan Rajagopal, MIT
  • Moderator: Gráinne de Búrca, New York University


Panel 2: Verticality and Struggles over Human Rights

How do different legal orders interact vertically? Is this interaction marked by conflict and contestation, or by compromise and collaboration? This panel looks at three different such interactions: between domestic courts and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; between regional human rights courts and United Nations Treaty Bodies; and between Swiss domestic law and the lex sportiva.

  • Antoine Duval, T.M.C. Asser Institute for European and International Law in the Hague
  • Machiko Kanetake,Utrecht University
  • Caroline de Lima e Silva, Lichtenberg-Kolleg (Georg-August-Universität)
  • Discussant: César Rodríguez Garavito, New York University
  • Moderator: Nico Krisch, Graduate Institute Geneva


Panel 3: Images of Multiplicity: Spaces, Entanglement, Hybridity

When attempting to analyse multiple legalities, various conceptualizations have been and continue to be offered to capture this phenomenon. These different conceptualizations rest on different images of multiplicity. How do we arrive at such diverging conceptualizations, and what are the reasons behind them? This panel presents and discusses three different images of multiplicity.

  • Dana Burchardt,Berlin Potsdam Research Group “International Law – Rise or Decline?”
  • Francesco Corradini, Graduate Institute Geneva
  • Valentin Jeutner, Lund University, Sweden.
  • Discussant: Brian Z. Tamanaha, Washington University
  • Moderator: Hannah Birkenkötter, HU Berlin

Coffee break

15:45-17:15 CET/9:45-11:15 EST

Multiple Legalities in International Law (plenary)

This panel assembles four eminent international law scholars to discuss how the multiplicity of law beyond the state observed over the past two days affects the study of international law today. What are the prospects for international law as a discipline?

  • Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, University of Geneva, Geneva Center for International Dispute Settlement
  • B.S. Chimni, O.P. Jindal Global University
  • Jeff L. Dunoff, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • Moderator and comments: Anne Peters, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

Coffee break

17:30-18:30 CET/11:30-12:30 EST

Closing Roundtable

In closing, we aim to take stock of the two-day conference and our attempt to bring into conversation scholars from different backgrounds to understand the implications of multiplicity for the theory and practice of law beyond the state.

  • Hannah Birkenkötter, HU Berlin
  • Nico Krisch, Graduate Institute Geneva
  • Mattias Kumm, New York University
  • Sarah Nouwen, EUI


End of the conference







SUGGESTED CITATION  Birkenkötter, Hannah; Krisch, Nico: Conference Programme, VerfBlog, 2021/1/12,