Three International Lawyers in a Hall of Mirrors
Leiden Journal of International Law, 2019, Forthcoming
30 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2019 Last revised: 25 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 13, 2019
This article uses the metaphor of the hall of mirrors to produce three distinct images of the international lawyer. The hall of mirrors refers here to the extent to which international legal discourses are built on self-referential mechanisms tantamount to mutually reflecting mirrors, by virtue of which movements and postures are reproduced ad infinitum without disclosing the origin thereof. According to the first image produced by virtue of the metaphor of the hall of mirrors, the international lawyer feels invincible and fully makes use of the hall of mirrors to allow international legal discourses to obscure their origins and thrive in foundationlessness. The second image depicts a vulnerable international lawyer who is deprived of self-referential mechanisms for the production of international legal discourses because the mirrors have been shattered or the light turned off or simply because she has closed her eyes. The third image is that of a self-reflective international lawyer who is neither invincible nor vulnerable but consciously standing between the mutually reflecting mirrors wearing fissured spectacles and with no intention to smash the mirror, turn off the light or close her eyes. This article ends with a few observations on the coexistence of these three inter-national lawyers – the invincible, the vulnerable, and the self-reflective – standing together in the hall of mirrors, possibly not even seeing one another.
Keywords: international law, international legal theory, critical theory, modernity, Foucault, sources of international law, interpretation of international law, belief system
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