Prof. Karen Knop

Karen Knop

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Max Planck Law Fellow

 Karen Knop is recognized as one of the leading scholars in public international law worldwide. Her work spans private as well as public international law.  Known particularly for its concern with challenges of gender and cultural differences for core concepts in both fields, it is always interdisciplinary and theoretically informed. She recently gave lectures at the Hague Academy of International Law on the topic of Foreign Relations and International Law, and the topic of her invited Foreword for the European Journal of International Law in 2023 will be populism, empire and the rise of foreign relations law. At the same time, she has long taught and researched private international law, leading to an edited issue and several articles and book chapters. Her current focus on foreign relations law brings together both those fields. Knop has co-authored several articles with Prof. Ralf Michaels and Prof. Annelise Riles, a collaboration that has also led to a well-received journal issue on Transdisciplinary Conflict of Laws. With Prof. Anne Peters, she has collaborated in the context of contributions to edited volumes and when she was chair of the editorial committee of the American Journal of International Law Unbound.

Email: k.knop@utoronto.ca

He was recently awarded the Michael Endres Prize by the Hertie School of Governence where he is a visiting professor throughout the academic year 2021–22. He has been an elected member of the ‘Politics, Power and Organisation’ section of the CNRS national committee, is a permanent visiting professor at the iCourts research centre (Univ. of Copenhagen), and is co-director of the Master’s degree in ‘European Public Affairs’ at the University of Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne. Antoine Vauchez’s work lies at the intersection of the socio-history of transnational power Habilitation (2010), his main research themes are the formation of a European centre of power, the emergence of a body of legal and economic knowledge of the European project and the consolidation of a ‘power of independence’ around the European courts of justice, central banks and regulatory agencies.

Max Planck Fellow Group

The State of/in International Relations-New Foreign Relations Law between Public International Law and Conflict of Laws

Foreign relations law (FRL) can broadly be described as that part of the law that regulates a state’s conduct vis-à-vis other states and international organizations. FRL includes, for example, the constitutional requirements of ratifying international treaties, the role of international law within the domestic order, the competences given to diplomats to engage in negotiations, and so on. This area of the law is typically understood as domestic public law: in Germany it is called ‘Staatsrecht III’, and in North America it is frequently taught and researched by constitutional lawyers. In a recent prize-winning Oxford Handbook of Comparative Foreign Relations Law (Bradley, ed., 2019), to which both Prof. Karen Knop and Prof. Anne Peters contributed, the focus is primarily on domestic public law; this is also the primary focus in The Double-Facing Constitution (Bomhoff, Dyzenhaus & Poole, eds, 2020), to which Prof. Karen Knop contributed, as well as in other current volumes.

This traditional understanding of FRL as tied neatly to a state and its constitution has, in recent years, become increasingly questionable. First, at least in the United States, it has led to a marginalization of international law at the expense of domestic law—international law is often discussed and treated as though it were federal common law. Second, the focus underappreciates the changing role of the sovereign state under conditions of globalisation, which no longer complies with the neat container theory that was familiar throughout much of the twentieth century. Third, by now, much foreign relations law happens on account not of the state but of regional sub-units—cities, Länder—semi-autonomous institutions—central banks, antitrust regulators—or, indeed, NGOs. The field has to catch up with these developments; it can only account for them if it is both expanded beyond constitutional law and deepened in its theoretical and interdisciplinary foundations.

The project aims to expand FRL in two directions. First, the project will reestablish— analytically, critically and historically—the close relation of FRL with public international law (PIL). Most PIL is produced by FRL and stands in a relation of mutual dialogue with FRL. (Indeed, the US Restatement of Foreign Relations Law in its previous edition served in large parts as a Restatement of PIL, as seen from the perspective of the US).

Second, the project will enquire into the nearly ignored potential relations with Private International Law (PrIL) as a technique that interlinks legal orders like those of domestic and international law. Some parts of FRL, having to do with territorial limitations of domestic law, or comity granted to institutions of foreign countries, are so closely linked to private international law that they can often be fruitfully reconstructed in its terms. At the same time, private international law can benefit from a link with FRL.

The project aims to deepen FRL through a historical-comparative and theoretical perspective. This enhanced understanding enables a focus on under-researched issues.

The Max Planck Law Fellow Group is headed by Professor Karen Knop and brings together researchers from  and under the direction of Professors Ralph Michaels and Anne Peters.