Conference Panel Themes

Topics for discussion in our panels at this conference include:


Climate and the environment
This panel will address topical legal issues around climate change and the environment from the future of Kyoto and Paris and the UNFCCC, to requests for Advisory Opinions on climate issues before international courts and tribunals.

Investor-State dispute settlement
The panel will examine the latest hot topics and recent developments, including the developing jurisprudence on ISDS and enforcement before domestic courts (including assertions of State immunity), the failure to address signals of corruption, the interplay with non-treaty standards including those applicable to protection of the environment, and the latest views on the limits on the scope of States for non-discriminatory regulation in face of (e.g.) climate change.

Accounting for war
Despite the UN Charter’s stated aim to save ’succeeding generations from the scourge of war’, recent years have witnessed renewed and increased armed conflict. As part of their response, domestic and international actors alike have emphasised the legal accountability of those responsible for injuries and are taking steps to ensure such accountability, including through preparing for future implementation (e.g. through a register of damages). Such efforts have evolved beyond the traditional paradigm of (diplomatically agreed) inter-State reparations. Today’s picture is both more complex and in flux, partly due to evolution in the reach of human rights and (international) criminal law. For example, even while hostilities are still ongoing, the preparation for future reparations begins; there is development in the obligations of non-state actors beyond traditional IHL; and the very scope of compensation for unlawful use of force is a matter of debate. This panel will discuss the evolution and enforcement of accountability, both during and after the end of armed conflict, including through reparations, as well as the increasing role of human rights and recourse to international dispute settlement mechanisms.

International Settlement of Disputes
In a year where the cases before the ICJ are attracting more attention than ever before, the panel will examine the means by which disputes are being brought before international courts and tribunals, and whether the criteria determining access to jurisdiction require revision. Issues will include whether the thresholds for provisional measures should be re-visited, what are the limits on claims in relation to obligations owed erga omnes, and in circumstances where there is ever greater recourse to advisory opinion jurisdiction, what can be done to make more manageable the advisory process – from formulating a workable question, to ensuring a fair opportunity to respond to the views of other States (and participants), to ensuring that oral submissions are detailed, specific and not merely repetitive.

The Colonial Legacy of International Law
Many States are revisiting their colonial legacies and the question of redress and reparation for colonial violence and theft of colonial artefacts. Whilst many States are willing to accept moral responsibility for such matters, they question the relevance of international law to the determination of these issues, including because of the obstacles created by the intertemporal rule and the rigorous requirements of the law of State responsibility. This raises questions about the extent to which international law is fit for purpose. There are equally important questions regarding the legacy of colonialism on international law-making for institutions like the ILC and the ICJ and its impact on their ability to develop the law to address these challenges effectively, such as the inequality of representation between the Global North and South. This panel will examine the legacy of colonialism on international law and litigation, and consider ways to mitigate, rather than perpetuate, colonial injustice in international law. In doing so, the panel will address the role of strategic litigation and offer insights on the likely development of international law to meet the challenges of colonialism.

Domestic Courts and International Law (immunities)​
The panel will consider proposed developments in the law of immunity, notably the ILC’s Draft Articles on Immunity of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction.

Domestic Courts and International Law (Human Rights and Customary International Law)
The domestic protection of human rights in the UK has been closely linked with international instruments, but now is in a state of flux: the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights ceased to apply, the domestic incorporation of the ECHR is debated, and international obligations are challenged. At the same time, enforcement of international law in domestic courts has come to the forefront in the context of ensuring accountability for the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The panel will discuss recent developments, tensions and trends concerning the interaction of international law and domestic law in UK courts, focusing on litigation concerning the UK’s obligations under international human rights law and customary international law. The panellists will give us their diverse perspectives on the deployment and development of these obligations, drawing on recent high-profile cases in the UK courts.

The domestic protection of human rights in the UK has been closely linked with international instruments, but now is in a state of flux: the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights ceased to apply, the domestic incorporation of the ECHR is debated, and international obligations, such as those flowing from interim measures orders of the European Court of Human Rights are challenged. At the same time, enforcement of international law in domestic courts has come to the forefront in the context of ensuring accountability for the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The panel will discuss recent developments, tensions and trends concerning the interaction of international law and domestic law in UK courts, such as: the role of domestic courts in the development and enforcement of international law, the role of customary international law in domestic courts and comparative perspectives.

Activities of Multinational Corporations under International Law
The panel will explore the ways in which multinational corporations interact with, can become subject to or enjoy rights under international law. Among other things, it will consider the growing importance of ESG from an international law perspective, international human rights, activities in unrecognised territories and in times of conflict.”

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is transforming the global landscape at an unprecedented pace, raising critical questions for international law, governance, and national security. This panel will explore the legal challenges and opportunities presented by AI, with a focus on disinformation, cybersecurity, and the frameworks of international governance.

It will examine the issues surrounding AI-enabled disinformation and discuss the implications for democratic institutions, public trust, and the integrity of the international legal order. The panel will also examine the cybersecurity threats that AI poses, from automated cyber attacks to the use of AI in defending against and responding to cyber incidents. Speakers will consider the role of international law in establishing norms and regulations for state and non-state actors in cyberspace, and the collaborative efforts needed to protect critical infrastructure and maintain international peace and security. Finally, the session will address the broader aspects of international governance in the age of AI, including the ethical use of AI, the accountability of AI systems, and the potential for AI to both support and challenge existing international legal structures.

International migration and refugee law
In this bumper year of elections with half the world’s population heading to the polls, migration remains a high priority for states and electorates worldwide.

International law and international human rights law have long established standards for the protection of refugees and asylum seekers. However, the system is under strain. Despite increasing recognition of the borderless and inter-connected challenges of conflict, climate change, and migration, recent years have seen many governments strongly pushing back on the movement of persons, with potential human rights consequences in terms of forced returns or refoulement.

Who are the guardians of international refugee and asylum law? Can the current system continue and is it fit for purpose? What, if anything, needs to change? Are solutions to be found in the courtroom, or elsewhere? What is the role of international lawyers in these wider world discussions?

This panel will discuss the role of the courts, the international legal community and other actors in addressing these issues.

International Humanitarian Law
Old and New: Changing technologies in warfare and international humanitarian law

New technologies have given rise to new weaponry, including the use of armed drones, electronic warfare systems, autonomous weapons systems and human enhancement. These have shifted tactics employed on the battlefield, although conventional heavy weapons and trench warfare are far from disappearing. How do advancements in weaponry and tactics intersect with the existing rules and principles of international humanitarian law? What are the complexities of regulating cutting-edge weaponry within the existing paradigm, and what are the obligations of states, armed groups and corporate actors associated with designing, manufacturing, exporting and using these technologies? In the 75th anniversary year of the Geneva Conventions, this panel will explore the implications of new technologies in warfare for international humanitarian law, strategic considerations and humanitarian impacts. Can the existing legal frameworks cope with these changing technologies, or are new rules needed?

Sanctions: Is it really ‘the West versus the Rest’?
Sanctions are an important tool for enforcing international standards. They are used frequently in a variety of fields: from traditional areas of inter-State relations, to the world of sports and commerce. At the same time, sanctions have often been criticised as an instrument of the ‘Global North’ (or the ‘West’) to be used mainly against the ‘Global South’ (or ‘the rest’): the UN Human Rights Council has recently highlighted “the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights”. This panel will explore the current sanctions practice of States and other international actors and test the popular (but perhaps simplistic) assumption that they are a tool of the Global North. To do so, the panel will include perspectives from different geographical regions and fields.

Current issues in Law of the Sea
For decades, deep seabed mining has been hailed as ‘the next frontier‘ in resource exploitation — but also prompted major concerns. Work on the International Seabed Authority (ISA)‘s ‘mining code‘, intended to provide a comprehensive set of rules, regulations and procedures to regulate prospecting, exploration and exploitation of marine minerals, has heightened tension: well over 20 governments, as well as NGOs and scientists, have called for a moratorium or a precautionary pause on deep sea mining. At the same time, industry experts anticipate a ‘commercial breakthrough’ or even predict a ‘new gold rush‘.

Against this backdrop, the 2024 London Conference of International Law will bring together experts from practice and academia to take stock of developments and assess the role of international law and institutions in relation to deep seabed mining.

This session will consider the increasing trend towards multilateralization of international taxation, particularly through the OECD, the drivers behind this and the challenges that it poses including the need to ensure fairness, and to strike the right balance between States’ sovereign rights to raise taxation and protecting businesses from arbitrary or discriminatory tax practices. The multilateralization of taxation is also bringing into relief the intersection of taxation with other areas of international economic law especially international investment and trade law. The session will look at how this is developing and present a number of different perspectives on the key issues raised before considering what the future direction of travel might be.

Space law
This panel will examine current developments in an area which is the subject of increasing international attention and concern.

Energy Security
While energy security is necessary to ensure continued energy resources at an affordable price, it is continuously threatened by several factors, including the need to address climate change by reducing fossil fuel dependence, but also by geopolitical instability. Against the tensions brought by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the backdrop, the Nord Stream pipelines transporting gas under the Baltic Sea were ruptured in the Swedish and Danish exclusive economic zones in 2022, a few weeks after Russia suspended gas flow in one of the pipelines. And with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the oil trade has been increasingly diverted via the Suez Canal. However, since the end of last year, Houthis attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea have in turn also impacted the global oil trade, with several shipping companies now seeking to avoid this trading route.

This panel of experts will consider the many legal issues raised by such attacks on energy infrastructures and trading routes, such as the legal nature of acts of sabotage on pipelines, the legality of armed responses to attacks on trading routes at sea and the question of self-defence. Panelists will further consider whether international law is currently fit to address those threats to energy security and, if not, how could the framework be strengthened.

Careers in International Law
Join us for an insightful lunchtime panel discussion that delves into the world of careers in international law.

Our distinguished panel features seasoned international lawyers whose expertise spans across all sectors at the highest levels of their respective fields. It will feature representatives who have worked or are currently practising within academia, the Bar, law firms, government, international courts and tribunals, and various agencies in the United Nations and other international organisations.

During the session, our panellists will share their personal career trajectories, shedding light on the diverse pathways that led them to their current roles. They will discuss the essential skills, qualifications, and competencies that aspiring international lawyers must cultivate to succeed in this arena.

The conversation will highlight where future opportunities might emerge as geopolitical landscapes shift and new legal challenges arise. Attendees will gain valuable insights into how to position themselves to take advantage of these upcoming prospects.

Whether you are a law student, a practicing lawyer considering a shift to international law, or simply interested in the field, this panel will provide you with the knowledge and inspiration to navigate a career in international law.