Autonomisation – University of Copenhagen

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THE HAGUE, 3 February 2012 - The President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Judge Hisashi Owada, reads out the Judgment of the Court in the case concerning Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy: Greece intervening)

Photo: CIJ-ICJ/UN-ONU, Capital Photos/Frank van Beek – Courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved.

The thematic research group on autonomisation of international courts studies the rise of transnational legal fields and associated legal practices. The group investigates how international courts, through various discursive mechanisms, such as cross-fertilisation and cross-referencing, build jurisprudential tracks with a view to enhancing the general legal importance of their decisions both to their respective fields of law and to international law in general.

The increased dynamics of international law that ensues from this development seems to have given rise to an international body of legal knowledge marked by common references, concepts, and principles, and methods of interpretation and ways of adjudication specific to international courts. The autonomisation group aims to identify this new form of autonomous international law.

Since international courts operate in a larger legal field and in national and transnational communities of lawyers, the development of international law that is spurred by the jurisprudential activity of international courts must also be situated in relation to legal doctrine and the academic reception in legal epistemic communities. The autonomisation group therefore seeks to understand the interplay between legal doctrine and court practices. This is done by introducing a new object of legal study - legal knowledge - to facilitate a combined legal and contextual analysis that allows for a broader view of law and how to study it.

The aim of the group is to create an overview of how legal knowledge in this understanding travels between the international courts and from case law to doctrine, and to investigate what role the knowledge transfer plays in the development of an international order. The autonomisation group relies on a number of interlinked research approaches, including analytical jurisprudence, corpus linguistic analysis, and contents analysis. The group has established unique databases on international courts' practices. Some of these data bases are publicly available on this website.

Core researchers of the group are Professor Henrik Palmer Olsen, Associate Professor Anne Lise Kjær and Associate Professor Joanna Jemielniak.