Global Justice Beyond States


Mike Gadomski;

Eilidh Beaton;


*All times are British Summer Time (BST)

Wednesday 8 September

Session 1: States and Migration

12 :00pm – 3 :00pm

“When Immigration Law Is Unjust but Legitimate” – Yuan Yuan (New York University Shanghai)

“Internal Displacement and State-Centricity” – Eilidh Beaton (King’s College London)

“John Rawls and Transnational Migration Justice” – Juliette Monvoisin (ISJPS / Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)


Thursday 9 September

Session 2 : States and Internationalism

2 :00pm – 5 :00pm

“Internationalism and Political Normativity” – Mike Gadomski (University of Pennsylvania)

“The State’s Right to Withdraw from International Organizations: A Restricted Account” – Jelena Belic (Leiden University)

“Inward Internationalism” – Tadgh Ó Laoghaire (University of Gothenburg)


Friday 10 September

Session 3 : States and Non-state Actors

3 :00pm-6 :00pm

“The Marketisation of Human Rights Duties: What Happens to a Right When the Duty Bearer Is Not (Only) the State” – Therese Boje Mortensen (Lund University)

“The Human Rights State as a Means to Global Justice beyond Nation States” – Benjamin Gregg (Lund University / University of Texas at Austin)

“Risk Management: The Illusion of Control in Indeterminate Systems” – Benjamin Hale (University of Colorado) and Kenneth Shockley (Colorado State University)


Our world faces some pressing global problems. For example, we are currently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and affluent states are beginning to roll out the first phase of vaccination for high-priority groups. These states make up just 14% of the world’s population, and yet have secured 53% of the most promising vaccines. This situation has been described as unjustifiable ‘vaccine nationalism’, since wealthy countries have prioritised the health needs and economic interests of their own populations instead of supporting a just programme for global vaccine distribution.

One possible interpretation of these events is that they are representative of broader issues in the way we address global problems. In recent years, scholars have become increasingly critical of state-centric approaches to philosophical theorising and international practice. Cosmopolitans like Seyla Benhabib (2020) argue that the state-based perspective ‘denies the radical fluidity, historical variability and interdependence of peoples, histories, cultures, and territories on both sides of the border’. In the philosophy of migration, Alex Sager (2018) claims that state-centric approaches have ‘failed to recognize how profoundly migration disrupts dominant political categories’.

Similarly, Thomas Piketty (2020) suggests that although the current principles by which the world is organised seem impossible to supersede, ‘in reality they stem from a very specific type of political-ideological regime’ that must be overcome if we are to address problems like rising inequality and climate change. Arguing that ‘the frame within which political action is imagined must be permanently rethought’, he proposes a federalist model for transnational governance.

On the other hand, various scholars have defended state-centric ways of responding to international problems. According to Michael Blake’s ‘institutional conservatism’ (2013), ‘we have reason to take the forms of political institution we have as provisionally settled, and see what these institutions would have to do in order to be justified’. Similarly, Gillian Brock (2020) suggests that ‘administrative structures are important in our quest to secure justice’, and since states are the best administrative structures we have, our first aim should be to make the state system legitimate.

This panel seeks to explore the value of state-centric responses to global issues in both theory and practice. We welcome papers on topics in global justice that examine the benefits and/or limitations of the state system, including those discussing non-state political actors and various forms of transnational governance. Potential areas of discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Statist vs cosmopolitan approaches to distributive justice
  • Ways to achieve international justice in times of crisis, like the Covid-19 pandemic
  • The role of states and non-state actors in migration and displacement
  • States as the primary protectors of human rights
  • Whether a state-led approach can achieve an effective response to the climate emergency
  • The effectiveness of international law and international institutions
  • The effects of global capitalism on the pursuit of domestic justice
  • The legacies of empire and colonialism in the constitution of the state system

Abstracts should be 500-1000 words, and should be sent by Monday 17 th May 2020 to Mike
Gadomski ( and Eilidh Beaton (