The conference will explore the changing nature of international institutions and their impact on international governance, international law-making and law-enforcement. International institutions have become ‘a kind of superstructure over and above the international society of States’ (Mosler, 1974, referring specifically to international organisations). In the past, the content of the term ‘international institutions’ was by and large exhausted by reference to international organisations. However, the term comprises today not only traditional intergovernmental organisations but includes an expanded range of formal and informal institutions of global governance. The conference will explore the full range of international institutions, including international judicial and quasi-judicial organs, which—even when they are (subsidiary) organs of an international organisation—have acquired a life of their own; conferences of parties with wide-ranging powers over the interpretation and application of international treaties; compliance mechanisms; hybrid organisations which provide vital content to generic provisions of international treaties; a system of international criminal justice diffused in States and complemented at the international level; non-governmental organisations; informal networks of regulators, and so forth.

Papers will examine the role of international institutions in making, developing, interpreting, applying and enforcing international law and thus shaping the legal landscape of international and transnational interaction in a globalised world. The conference theme explores the multifarious impact of ever-present international institutions on international law, both by querying their impact in the areas of law-making and law-enforcement and by tracing their presence and importance in ‘sectoral regimes’ of international law, ranging from the law of armed conflict to international economic and investment law, through to the global environment.