Karen J. Alter (Northwestern University)

Monday, February 24, 2014 - 12:00pm -

"The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights." The talk will be held at noon on February 24 in Sigel Lounge, on the sixth floor of Hickman Hall.

Karen J. Alter is Professor of Political Science and Law at Northwestern University, and a permanent visiting professor at the iCourts Center for Excellence, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law. Alter is author of The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights (Princeton University Press, 2014); The European Court’s Political Power (Oxford University Press, 2009); Establishing the Supremacy of European Law (Oxford University Press, 2001) and more than forty articles and book chapters. She is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook on International Adjudication (Oxford University Press, 2014). Fluent in Italian, French and German, Alter’s research has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Berlin, the Howard Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, the DAAD, and the Bourse Chateaubriand Scientifique. Alter is member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, serves on the editorial board of International Organization, and Law and Social Inquiry and (previously) European Union Politics. She has been a visiting scholar at the Northwestern Law School, the American Academy in Berlin, the Institute d’Etudes Politiques, the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Auswartiges Politik, Harvard University’s Center for European Studies, Harvard Law School, Seikei University, the Sonderforschungsbereich of Universitat Bremen, and the American Bar Foundation.
Professor Alter will be speaking about her new book, The New Terrain of International Law. The book presents an in-depth look at the scope and powers of international courts operating around the world. Focusing on dispute resolution, enforcement,administrative review, and constitutional review, Karen Alter argues that international courts alter politics by providing legal,symbolic, and leverage resources that shift the political balance in favor of domestic and international actors who prefer policies more consistent with international law objectives. International courts name violations of the law and perhaps specify remedies. Alter explains how this limited power—the power to speak the law—translates into political influence, and she considers eighteen case studies, showing how international courts change state behavior. The case studies, spanning issue areas and regions of the world, collectively elucidate the political factors that often intervene to limit whether or not international courts are invoked and whether international judges dare to demand significant changes in state practices.
There is no paper for the talk.