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Behavioural Approaches in International Law

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Until recently, international legal scholarship has largely been premised on the assumption of rational action on the part of key actors in international law, whether those actors be states, international organizations, judges, arbitrators, or government officials. However, recent literature in cognate disciplines, such as international relations and political science, integrates insights from behavioural economics and cognitive psychology in order to construct more descriptively accurate models of decision-making, including those decisions that pertain to international law.

A series of workshops at Leiden University and the University of Hamburg will build on the nascent literature that aims to integrate empirical insights regarding the bounded rationality of decision-makers from neighbouring disciplines to the analysis of international law. The workshops will act as a forum in which international legal scholars whose research adopts a behavioural approach can present their works-in-progress and gain feedback from a broad range of peers, including scholars in economics and cognitive psychology as well as those conducting empirical and experimental research.

The first workshop – held online on 17 November 2020  will act as a platform at which scholars can outline the conceptual framework for their project, their methodology, and their preliminary findings. Each speaker will be allocated a discussant and will receive thorough feedback. The second workshop – held at the Institute of Law and Economics in Hamburg in early summer 2021 – will give speakers an opportunity to gain feedback on a more developed piece of research, which will form the basis of an article. We aim to publish the papers from the Leiden workshop in an AJIL Unbound symposium and selected articles from the Hamburg workshop in a symposium in a top-level peer-reviewed journal.

Support for these workshops is provided by the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, the Leiden University Fund/Dr. H.A. van Beuningen Fonds (www.luf.nl) and by the European Research Council, as part of Dr Veronika Fikfak’s project HRNUDGE.

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