Three International Lawyers in a Hall of Mirrors

Available in Russian

Author: Jean d’Aspremont

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2019-4-21-38

Keywords: belief system; critical theory; Foucault; international legal theory; modernity


This article uses the metaphor of the hall of mirrors to produce three distinct images of an 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, an international lawyer feels invincible and fully makes use of the hall of mirrors to allow international legal dis- courses 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 international lawyers – the invincible, the vulnerable, and the self-reflective – standing together in the hall of mirrors, possibly not even seeing one another. By developing these three distinct images, this paper sheds light on how the contingency of legal doctrines, modes of legal reasoning and legal categories is experienced by international lawyers. In doing so, this article refines non-necessitarian understandings of contemporary international legal thought and practice while enabling reform of the way in which international lawyers’categories of thought, speech and argumentation constitute (and intervene in the problems of) the world.

About the author: Jean d’Aspremont – Professor of International Law, Sciences Po Law School, Paris, France, and University of Manchester, Manchester, the United Kingdom.

Citation: D’Aspremont J. (2019) Three International Lawyers in a Hall of Mirrors. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.9, no.4, pp.21–38. (In Russian).