Building a Legal Sociology of the Humanitarian Field

Humanitarian Studies Colloquium

Time: Tuesday, 14 March 2017 12:00-14:00
Place: PRIO, Hausmanns gate 3, Oslo

Building a Legal Sociology of the Humanitarian Field

On 14 March, the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law (UiO), the Human rights in armed conflicts and emergency situations, and the law of international peace and security research group of the Faculty of Law (UiO), the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies, and PRIO will host the second Humanitarian Studies Colloquium focusing on the sociology of law.

The Humanitarian Studies Colloquium is a quarterly forum for scholarly discussion of methodological and thematic issues in the emergent field of humanitarian studies, taking place at PRIO. The Colloquium is organized in collaboration with the Humanitarianism Research Group at PRIO, and is open to invited participants.  The disciplinary focus of the first colloquiums was historical.

The disciplinary focus of this second colloquium will be the sociology of law. We will explore the emergent Norwegian scholarship in the field and collaboratively unpack how classic socio-legal topics like legal professions, litigation, cause lawyering,  and the flow of hard and soft norms in semi-autonomous social fields play out in the global emergency field.

The study of international humanitarian law (IHL) has overwhelmingly been the terrain of doctrinal legal scholars, while the apparent lack of other law has meant that until recently, legal sociologists have paid little attention to the humanitarian sector. This is now changing.  Starting from a new article published in Oslo Law Review outlining a legal sociology of humanitarianism, we will collaboratively unpack how legal sociology helps us understand contemporary humanitarianism.

  • How do rules, standards and norms shape practices and interactions within and across humanitarian spaces globally?
  • What type of authority – and legal authority – do humanitarian actors have, and how is this authority produced and constrained?
  • What are the characteristics of the legal profession in the humanitarian sector?
  • What does legal sociology have to say about the shift towards court-ordered humanitarian practice as exemplified by the groundbreaking 2015 Steve Dennis versus the Norwegian Refugee Council case from the Oslo District court?

Note: this page will be updated with a more detailed program shortly. Contact Amanda Cellini(amacel@prio.org) with any questions.

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