Nordic Jurists and Double Hatting: The State College of International Lawyers

In this keynote lecture, Malcolm Langford, an esteemed Professor of Public Law at the University of Oslo and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Bergen, will open the workshop “Nordic jurists and legal internationalism, 1880s-1970s”, on the juridification of international relations and the role of Nordic jurists in this process.

In his renowned 1978 essay on the invisible college of international lawyers, Oscar Schachter argues that excessive double hatting by jurists in official roles can threaten the quest for objectivity in legal methods and the need for a diverse profession. What is striking about Nordic international lawyers is precisely their deep connections with national governments. Looking back over the last 150 years, such double hatting manifests itself in the Nordic practice of nominating state bureaucrats to expert and judicial positions, the revolving door of academia and politics, and the proximity of state capitals and university monopolies.

Langford will argue that in studying Nordic jurists, one should be ever mindful of the shadow of the state in the trajectories of Nordic lawyers and its potential effects on their legal interpretation and production. This double hatting frame not only helps in understanding concrete évènements concerning Nordic international lawyers but also sheds light on the broader Nordic narrative (or brand) of international law in the longue durée.