Author Archives: Umut Özsu

About Umut Özsu

is assistant professor of law at the University of Manitoba. His research interests include public international law, the history and theory of international law, law and development, and socio-legal studies. His first book, Formalizing Displacement: International Law and Population Transfers (Oxford, 2014), situates population transfer within the broader history of international law by examining its emergence as a legally formalized mechanism of nation-building in the early twentieth century.

“In the Interests of Mankind as a Whole”: Mohammed Bedjaoui’s New International Economic Order

International lawyers, it is often said, are exceptionally, even ridiculously, fond of “universality.” And this fondness, bordering at times on the obsessive, manifests itself in a variety of forms, the most nebulous and notorious being the idea of “jus cogensnorms”—general principles from which international lawyers are willing to permit no deviation, even in the form of supposedly iron-clad treaties with directly countervailing provisions. Like principles of nonaggression and sovereign equality, prohibitions of piracy, slavery, and genocide are regularly ascribed jus cogens status, typically as part of an Continue reading → Continue reading →

International Legal Fields

This essay reviews three recent collections of international legal scholarship. Demonstrating that all three volumes are organized around the tension between formalism and anti-formalism, the essay argues that no adequate account of contemporary international law can be developed without attending both to its internal normative architecture and to its receptivity to competing extralegal forces. Relying on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, the essay suggests that any such account must necessarily involve a sustained investigation into the formation and operation of “international legal fields.” Continue reading →