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Tuesday, 12 March 2024 - 6.00pm
Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Berkowitz/Finley Lecture Hall

Professor Beth SimmonsThe Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lecture is an annual three-part lecture series given in Cambridge to commemorate the unique contribution to the development of international law of Sir Hersch Lauterpacht. These lectures are given annually by a person of eminence in the field of international law.  This year's lecture will be given by Professor Beth Simmons, Professor of International Law, University of Pennsylvania.

This is a hybrid event.

Register here if attending in person        Register here if attending online   

A recording of these lectures is now available at Lecture Recordings/Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures 

Summary: The Golden Age of globalization has reached an end in the popular and political imagination. In its place has arisen growing anxiety about state borders. What is the evidence of such a shift? What are the causes and consequences? What answers does international law have for how international borders should be governed, especially as human mobility intensifies?  Traditional international law defining and settling borders will not suffice to answer these questions. Instead, the lectures explore a different approach that views international borders as institutions that obligate states to manage the tensions that territorial governance implies in an interdependent world.

6 pm Tuesday 12 March 2024

Lecture I: Setting the stage: Border Anxiety in an Interdependent World

Even as interstate territorial aggrandizement has waned over the decades, border anxiety around the world is on the rise. A rich array of physical and rhetorical evidence from satellite imagery to discourse analysis supports this point. International borders have become a flashpoint for political demands and policies that insist on unilateralism. Yet “sovereign borders” misconstrue the very purposes – and consequences – of bordering. Can an International Law of borders move from its traditional focus on border fixity to border management? That will be the focus of Lecture 2.

Chair: Sandesh Sivakumaran

6 pm Wednesday 13 March 2024

Lecture 2: Treaties and Neighbors: Recovering the Cooperative Roots of International Bordering

Territorializing political authority was a violent affair. Borders are implicated in that violence. But this lecture foregrounds their cooperative international legal roots as well. In theory, borders divide by agreement. That is their purpose. Any border worth its salt impacts relationships between states, communities and individuals. The obligation, then, is to address that impact. This lecture explores international legal resources for cooperative border management, which is subject, as always, to international legal obligations.

Chair: Surabhi Ranganathan

6 pm Thursday 14 March 2024

Lecture 3: Where Cooperative Border Governance (Should) Lead: Interstate Borders as Though People Mattered

The lecture culminates by addressing ways forward in the light of Lectures 1 and 2. First, it explores the ways that border unilateralism has had some results that are inconsistent with international human rights. Second, it suggests possibilities for addressing rights violations committed in the name of “border sovereignty.” While international law is not equipped to address all of the injustices and anxieties associated with international borders, it does offer cooperative levers and lenses that can help address and arrest some of its worst consequences.

Chair: Eyal Benvenisti

Q&A 1 pm, Friday 15 March 2024

Chair: Giovanni Mantilla

Beth Simmons is Andrea Mitchell Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor of Law, Political Science and Business Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. She researches and teaches international relations, international law and international political economy.  She is best known for her research on international political economy during the interwar years, policy diffusion globally and her work demonstrating the influence that international law has on human rights outcomes around the world.

Simmons is currently working on a project that attempts to document and explain the paradox of hardening international borders between states in an era of globalization. She uses satellite imagery to document evidence of state presence at international border crossings and the location in time and space of border walls and fences round the world. Her goal is to write a book probing the politics, economics and social anxieties behind international border “thickening.”

Two of her books, Who Adjusts? Domestic Sources of Foreign Economic Policy During the Interwar Years (2004) and Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics (2009) won the American Political Science Association's Woodrow Wilson Award for the best book published in the United States on government, politics, or international affairs.  The latter was also recognized by the American Society for International Law, the International Social Science Council and the International Studies Association as the best book of the year in 2010.

Her current and recent research has been supported by the Carnegie Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Simmons directed the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, is a past president of the International Studies Association and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.


Lauterpacht Centre for International Law