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RASDIP joint programme: Interaction of legal systems in public international law
Coordinators: Baptiste Tranchant and Olivier Blin
Following the October 2013 symposium on ‘The interaction between international norms – conflicts and complementarity’, the cooperation between IRDEIC and Laval University, which has been running since the institute’s foundation, has been extended to...

... legal systems within international law and the interaction between international norms (at the institutional, substantive and litigation levels).

The next step in this cooperation is centred on the EU-Canada agreement (adopted at the end of 2013) and includes a multi-faceted analysis expected to form the subject of a special edition in the Quebec Journal of International Law.
In 2015, Laval University organised a conference on WTO rules which comprised a section on the link between multilateral commercial norms and other legal systems, especially regional blocs within this organisation.
Olivier Blin participated in a symposium at Laval in autumn 2014 during which he looked at transatlantic relations within multilateralism. It was an opportunity to delineate the future boundaries of this well-established cooperation.
This programme is designed to meet material objectives – the study of issues connected to changes in international law – and institutional goals such as re-energising the partnership between the IRDEIC and Laval University, which has proved to be very fruitful in the past.
The issue of how systems within the international order interact is both a traditional and current topic.
The hierarchical feature of public international law raises questions on the relationship between the different international rules and on resolving conflicts between those norms.
The difficulty in reconciling contradictory international norms has been evident since the start of the 20th century in relation to inter-oceanic canals.
The development of international law, the widening of its remit, and the surge in international agreements and institutions have provoked a renewed relevance in this issue.
It has become increasingly common for international law subjects to find themselves committed to contradictory international obligations.
And such situations are frequently coming before international courts (for examples the cases of Nada v Switzerland, Al-Jedda v United Kingdom and Al-Skeini v United Kingdom which came before the ECtHR; international arbitration hearings initiated on the basis of investment protection agreements between EU Member States; the Al-Bashir case before the International Criminal Court; the Kadi cases adjudicated by the CJEU, etc.).
The conflict between international rules thus encompasses all branches of public international law: international human rights protection, economic international law, environment protection, international security and peace, international organisations, international litigation, etc. But these issues are also relevant to national courts; they are increasingly faced with cases that are governed by incompatible international obligations contracted by the very state that they form part of (e.g. CE, 23 December 2011, M. Eduardo Jose K.; CE, 6 December 2012, Air Algérie).
Even though this issue of reconciliation rests on a normative perspective, it is also relevant for institutions and litigation, all the more so given the difficulties brought about by the increase in international jurisdictions.
Does this last aspect not raise the risk of forum shopping, the abuse of legal proceedings, inconsistencies in international case-law and even the fragmentation of international law itself?
The research programme thus seeks to study the theoretical and practical issues.
In relation to the profile of the IRDEIC, the programme is also an opportunity to relaunch and strengthen the cooperation between the IRDEIC of Toulouse 1 Capitole University and Laval University of Quebec.
The past and future events forming part of this programme’s work are intended to fasten the relationship between the lecturer-researchers of the two universities.

Scientific events

The programme has already held several collective and individual events which will be further enriched in the future.
The topic of the relationship of different legal systems was first broached in a symposium held at Toulouse 1 Capitole University on 17 October 2013. It was entitled “The interaction between international norms – conflicts and complementarity”. It provided French and Quebecer lecturers as well as practitioners with the opportunity to discuss ideas on the increasingly sensitive reconciliation of international norms at both the international and national level.
The presentations of this symposium were published by Pedone at the end of 2014.
The programme’s coordinators then had the chance to speak at other symposia. One was organised for Bordeaux/Bayonne on the relationship between Europe and the Americas (Olivier Blin, “The European Union and the United States of America at the WTO: a duel or duet?”).
The other was an annual symposium by the CEDECE at Montpellier, which dealt with fundamental rights (Baptiste Tranchant, “The hierarchy between European Union law and international law in relation to fundamental rights”).
In subsequent months, two conferences held by Laval University in Quebec enabled us to further our knowledge of the relationship between legal systems: one from a broad Europe/North American perspective (October 2014) and the other with a narrower focus on World Trade Organisation rules (WTO) in March 2015.
Furthermore, in accordance with the biennial Franco-Canadian conferences on international law initiated in 2013, a new symposium was held at the end of 2015 in Toulouse, which discussed the litigation aspects involved in the reconciliation of international norms.