Knowledge Production, Big Data and Data-Driven Customary International Law
16 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2019
Date Written: December 3, 2019
This chapter investigates the role of “Big Data” analysis and data crowdsourcing in shifting power relations with respect to the identification of customary international law. Evidence of states’ practice and legal positions is required in order to determine that a new norm of customary international law has crystallized. And yet, international courts have often settled for anecdotal evidence and impressionistic analysis. However, recent academic works have crowdsourced data collection, compiled big datasets and applied computerized analysis methods to make comprehensive and systematic evaluation of the development of customary norms. I argue that this new mode of knowledge production may democratize both the data collected (giving greater weight to smaller states from the global periphery) and the potential contributors to the production process (including lawyers from different countries and language capabilities). Nevertheless, such production requires scientific sophistication and resources, which once more give actors from rich, developed countries a greater role in developing the law.
Keywords: Big Data, Knowledge Production, Data-Driven, Customary international law, international law, non-state actors, opinio juris, state practice, third world approaches to international law (TWAIL)
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