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The Biden Administration and International Law


19 Jan BidenAlvarez Part of the War Crimes Seminar Series - Spring Term

Speaker: Professor Jose Alvarez, Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law at NYU Law School

Discussant: Professor Gerry Simpson, Professor of Public International Law, LSE Department of Law

Chair: Dr Maria Varaki, Lecturer in International Law, War Studies Department


Professor Jose Alvarez will discuss the incoming Biden administration’s attempt to restore respect for international law and how its institutions will be constrained by eight foreign policy trends that will outlast President Trump:

  1. A preference for alternatives to new multilateral treaties;
  2. A more hostile approach towards China;
  3. Deep skepticism of the world trading system;
  4. Reliance on punishing ‘bad’ actors through trade sanctions;
  5. Circumspection towards the UN system;
  6. Avoidance of most international courts and tribunals;
  7. Aversion to ‘never-ending’ wars and resistance to humanitarian use of force (RIP for R2P);
  8. ‘Ironclad’ commitments to Israel’s security.  While Biden will moderate each of these, his international law ‘restoration’ will be tempered.  It will not consist of a return to the Obama-era status quo.



José E. Alvarez is the Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law at New York University Law School.  A former President of the American Society of International Law and co-editor in chief of the American Journal of International Law, Prof. Alvarez is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Institut de Droit International.  His books include The Public International Law Regime Governing International Investment (2011), The Impact of International Organizations on International Law (2017), International Investment Law (2017), and The Boundaries of Investment Arbitration (2018)For a fuller biography, see here.

Gerry Simpson is a Professor of International Law at LSE. Gerry’s latest book, The Sentimental Life of International Law: Literature, Language and Longing, will be published this year by Oxford University Press. His current research projects include an ARC-funded project on Cold War International Law (with Matt Craven, SOAS) and Sundhya Pahuja, (Melbourne) and a counter-history of International Criminal Justice. International Law and the Cold War (eds. Craven, Pahuja, Simpson) was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020 and Cold War International Law is a monograph currently being written (with Craven and Pahuja) for publication by Cambridge University Press. Two sole-authored early chapters have been circulated: “Thirteen ways to the Look at the Cold War” (10,000 words) and “International Legal Nuclearism” (12,000 words). Gerry is currently writing a meditation on nuclearism entitled The Atomics: Life, Love and Death at the End of the World.



This seminar is brought to you by the War Crimes Research Group and the Society, Culture & Law research theme.

Please register via Zoom, all registered attendees will receive an email containing access details.

At this event

Maria Varaki

Maria Varaki

Lecturer in International Law

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