2023 Annual Conference

We look forward to welcoming you in New Zealand, on 3–5 July 2023 for our ICON•S Annual Conference on “Islands and Oceans: Public Law in a Plural World.” The conference will take place in person in Wellington, hosted by the Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington and its New Zealand Centre for Public Law.

2023 Conference Theme, Keynote, and Plenary Speakers

The Pacific Ocean covers one‑third of the Earth’s surface. By various estimates, the island nations of the Pacific are home to somewhere between one‑quarter and one‑third of the world’s languages and cultures. Although relatively small in number, the peoples of this region are therefore enormously diverse. Yet they are bound together, as much as they are separated, by the vast Pacific Ocean. For over a thousand years, seafarers have undertaken epic voyages of the Pacific Ocean for discovery, trade, and social exchange.
 
The Pacific region must therefore be seen as both islands and ocean—neither possible without the other, and both essential as mediums of interaction. These material conditions have in turn given rise to particular forms of public law ordering, both constitutional and international.
 
We take advantage of this unique setting to draw attention to a broad range of interrelated issues, under the expansive theme of “Islands and Ocean: Public Law in a Plural World”.
 
Invoking the Tongan anthropologist Epeli Hau’ofa’s conceptualization of the Pacific as a “sea of islands”, this theme helps to focus attention on concerns which are distinctive, though certainly not exclusive, to the Pacific region. These include the preservation of the natural environment, the effects of climate change—most dramatically manifested in rising sea levels—and the roles and rights of Indigenous peoples and cultures. In this connection, the theme resonates with a view of public law “from below”—from the global South, subaltern and Indigenous groups.
 
The idea of “Island and Ocean” also work as a metaphor of the legal framework of transnational public law, where common waters, made of principles and shared values, are the host of a multitude of islands, where diverse identities flourish. The imagery of “Islands and Ocean” also carries more abstract and symbolic potential, connoting a series of complementary relationships intrinsic to public law: the material and the ideal, rules and discretion, the particular and the universal, unity in diversity. Drawing on this imagery, we would welcome submissions reflecting a plurality of public law approaches, with the aim of identifying the archipelagos, currents, and constellations that will help to navigate the troubled waters of contemporary domestic and international ordering.
 
The conference theme also invites (re‑)consideration of a variety of other topics and approaches that are of ongoing and widespread interest in public law, including but not limited to questions of legal pluralism, constitutional conventions and custom, alternative approaches to rights protection, comparative constitutional law and institutional design, and political versus legal constitutionalism, among others.
 
Reflecting these issues and approaches, our plenary panels will be organised around three main topics: plural responses to the climate crisis; Indigenous rights and self-governance; and pluralism and change in unwritten constitutions.
 
Keynote speakers will include:
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (TBC)
Brian Tamanaha, Washington University

Plenary speakers will include:
Maria Bargh, Victoria University of Wellington
Claire Charters, University of Auckland
Lee Godden, Victoria University of Wellington
Julia Dehm, La Trobe University
Carwyn Jones, Te Wānanga o Raukawa
Aileen Kavanagh, Trinity College Dublin
Heron Loban, Griffith University
Janet McLean, University of Auckland
Salvador Millaleo, Universidad de Chile
César Rodríguez Garavito, New York University
Tamasailau Suaalii, University of Auckland
Justice Joe Williams, Supreme Court of New Zealand

In addition to the plenary panels, the 2023 ICON•S Annual Conference will continue our traditions of holding the Women’s Reception and the LBGTQ+ Reception.


The Call for Papers for our 2023 Annual Conference can be accessed here.


Conference Organizing Committee 

Richard Albert, Gráinne De Búrca, Gustavo Buss, Marta Cartabia, Lorenzo Casini, Sabino Cassese, Joel Colon-Rios, Rosalind Dixon, Luke Fitzmaurice, Morgan Godfery, Claudia Golden, Michaela Hailbronner, Ran Hirschl, Dean Knight, Marnie Lloyd, Erik Longo, Juan Sebastián López, Alicia Mangana Rios, Kate McCool, Stefano Osella, Irene Parra Prieto, Anna Pirri Valentini, Marianne Poehls Risco, Evan Rosevear, Amal Sethi, Guy Fiti Sinclair, Sergio Verdugo, Etienne Wain, Joseph Weiler, Ruiping Ye, Michelle Zang.