E Pluribus Unum? A Divisible College?: Reflections on the International Legal Profession

G.I. Hernández

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Anthea Roberts’ ambitious monograph, Is International Law International?, calls on international lawyers to suspend our universalist pretensions and reflect from the per- spective of different communities of international lawyers, conceived instead as a ‘divis- ible college’. Her innovative and contemporary empirical work – on the educational and discursive practices across the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – represents nothing less than a first stab at a sociology of the international legal profession. In doing so, Roberts has adopted a consciously descriptive approach, with all of the consequences entailed thereby. Moreover, her privileging of certain methods and the focus on the five veto-wielding powers has the potential to reproduce the very power imbal- ances that she seeks to illuminate and possibly to challenge. Finally, an important coun- terpoint to the divisibility of the international legal profession is that, however diverse we may be, we nevertheless remain united by certain other tenets – in particular, our shared understanding of what concepts and ideas find purchase on the international plane and our engagement with, commitment to, or resistance to these concepts and ideas. The ties that bind our epistemic community might be obscured by undue emphasis on our profes- sion as a divisible college.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1022
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of International Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


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