CfP: Critical Research in International Law Doctoral Retreat

by | 28 Mar 2022

An intensive doctoral retreat in Gimo, 8-10 June 2022

What does it mean to be critical? Is it a core feature of any academic work or does the word signify a certain approach? Is it possible to be both critical and doctrinal at the same time and, if so, what would critical doctrinalism be like? What is the aim of critical legal research: to unveil the “true” meaning of the law, to expose power and hierarchy, to find arguments for policy change or perhaps all or any of these and even some more? Are critical insights merely useful to clarify and explain the law, or are they foundational to the project of international law and/or the project of research in international law? What is the relation between practice and theory and what does being critical have to do with it?

These and many other questions will be discussed at our sixth CRIL doctoral retreat, taking place at Gimo Herrgård, north-east of Stockholm, with support from the Hans Thornstedt foundation. The purpose of the retreat is to encourage participants to critically reflect on law and on their work and, most of all, to benefit from each other’s reflections. 

Following five very successful retreats in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 (online) with world-renowned scholars Martti Koskenniemi, Anne Orford, David Kennedy, Sundhya Pahuja and Tanja Aalberts, respectively, this retreat will be visited again by Professor Tanja Aalberts of VU Amsterdam. As many of you know, Tanja joined us for the 2021 edition, which took place on Zoom, for which she very generously shared her insights and provided penetrating comments on the papers. We think that it would be very nice for all of us to see her in person, so we invited her again, and she graciously agreed. 

Tanja is Professor of Law and Security at the Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit. Her research focuses on the interplay between politics and law within global governance and she has recently published The Power of Legality (CUP 2016) and Changing Practices of International Law (CUP 2018). Tanja is also a coordinator of the Centre for the Politics of Transnational Law (CePTL). We also welcome Jarna Petman, formerly at the Erik Castrén Institute in Helsinki but now in Stockholm, to her first CRIL retreat. In addition, there will be doctoral students from the Nordic region and selected international universities. 

The applicants will submit texts of not more than 12 pages (5000 words) that will be discussed during the retreat. Each paper will be assigned to two discussants. The first one will present the paper as s/he understands the argument (which is a helpful exercise in determining the clarity of the text) and conclude with questions. The second commentator will provide further constructive critique. Each paper will be provided with 30-40 minutes discussion. More information on this will follow in a separate document closer to the retreat.


Interested participants shall submit a letter of interest (3-500 words) which explains 

a) why s/he is interested in participating in the retreat, 

b) what type of text s/he plans to submit (this is not binding) and 

c) how s/he would like to see that text discussed. 

Letters of interest shall be submitted by 08 April to Pål Wrange ( and to . Please write ‘CRIL’ in the subject line. 

Participants will be notified by 15 April. Participants are expected to pay their own travel costs to Arlanda Airport (pick-ups to Gimo will be organized) as well as lodging and meals (appr. SEK 4000). 

We understand that most candidates will need to arrange financing after the selection and that an expression of interest may be subject to availability of funding.

Submission of papers

Two weeks in advance of the retreat, each participant shall submit a text of not more than 12 pages (5000 words), preferably extracts from current drafts of her/his thesis or ideas that s/he is formulating for the thesis. Those that have already presented at earlier CRIL retreats shall submit different texts from those previously discussed; draft post-doc projects might be appropriate for doctoral students close to their thesis submission. The page limit is to allow for in depth discussion of the ideas and to not overburden participants with reading. The texts can be stand-alone or complemented by brief memos, explaining why and how the text should be discussed. Consequently, we are not asking participants to provide fresh work, or final chapter drafts, but rather to bring texts on which they are currently working in the course of their doctoral projects or research ideas in development. 

In order to facilitate a useful discussion, each discussant must be aware of what the paper is “trying to accomplish”, so to speak. Therefore, each paper should contain an introduction which explains the status of the paper (a free-standing draft conference paper, a draft section of a thesis, etc) and puts the paper in the context of whatever larger research project the participant is pursuing. In particular, the research question has to be set out clearly. In addition, the participant should submits his/her brief reflections on how the paper relates to the theme of the retreat (critical research in international law).

Pål Wrange                                         

Professor and Director of the Stockholm               

Center for International Law and Justice               

[Corrected 28/3 with revised submission deadline. Ed]


  1. This was posted on March 28. It says the deadline is March 15 and participants will be selected by March 20.

  2. The deadlines seem to have been mistakenly written.


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