Dr Jen Hendry and Dr Ilias Trispiotis co-organised the 2016 UK IVR Conference on ‘Law and Social Sustainability’
Dr. Jen Hendry and Dr. Ilias Trispiotis co-organised the 2016 Annual Conference of the UK International Association of Legal and Social Philosophy (UK IVR) which took place on 29-30 October. This conference, on the theme of ‘Law and Social Sustainability’, was hosted in the School of Law and was generously supported by both the School and the Centre for Law and Social Justice.
The aim of the conference was to explore the connections between law and broader, social, interpretations of sustainability. To that end, it included more than 40 different paper presentations and welcomed more than 60 delegates, who explored and challenged the relationship between law and social sustainability from different theoretical angles including, among others, legal theory, political philosophy, socio-legal theory, legal history, legal psychology, and culture. Of particular note were the contributions of the Conference’s three keynote speakers: Dr. Virginia Mantouvalou (UCL Laws) discussed the danger of generating and perpetuating structural vulnerability in current legal provisions protecting against modern slavery; Professor Neil Walker (Edinburgh) explored the evolution of the experimental openness of the European Union and how the EU’s legal and procedural experimentation could prove challenging for its future; and Professor Leslie Green (Oxford) analysed parliamentary, popular and state conceptions of sovereignty as well as their interaction and normative priority in cases when they might come into conflict.
This theme of ‘Law and Social Sustainability’ was selected because of the conceptual potential of sustainability. Like justice and truth, sustainability is an objective whose value few would openly dispute and, although conceptually ambiguous, its forward-looking, non-static flair continues to inspire and permeate seminal works on environmental policy and development. But are there additional links between sustainability and law? How does and how should law affect social sustainability? Could we use law decisively to redress labour precarity and disadvantage, and how? How can refugee law, gender equality studies, disability theory and antidiscrimination ensure fair and sustainable communities? How do different analytical traditions, such as human rights, legal and political philosophy, and law and economics, interpret fairness and social cohesion? How should such perspectives (in)form law and policy?
Some speakers were specifically interested in the connections between legal procedures, including judicial review, authority, judicial diversity and access to justice with social sustainability. Others focused on the role of values and social goals, including equality, legality and social inclusion, in the consolidation and protraction of fair and sustainable communities. These discussions are ongoing, and there are plans afoot to publish these proceedings next year.