(Private) International Law for a Digitalised World – Collision, Coexistence or Combination?

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


On 6 December 2020, I had the great honour of giving a presentation at the Royal Netherlands Society of International Law’s Annual General Meeting. The topic I had been invited to address was the questions of whether (public and private) international law is ready for the, already ongoing, digital age. In essence, I made six observations:

1. Examples can be found of the online environment undermining the proper functioning of public and private international law structures;
2. As structured and applied online today, public and private international law creates a situation of ‘hyperregulation’;
3. The complexity of international law stems in part from the fact that the frameworks and concepts applied were developed in other eras and under other conditions resulting in them being insufficient to address the issues with which we are confronted now at the beginning of the 21st century;
4. The international law community must do more to engage with, and prioritise, Internet-related legal issues, and must seek to increase the profile of public and private international law in the Internet regulation community;
5. Examples can already be found of, more or less, self-regulatory Internet-related ADR schemes that effectively exclude international law altogether (see here). We must recognise that, with a proliferation of such schemes, the role and influence of international law decreases; and
6. The international law community ought to do more to engage with large, forward-looking, questions such as how AI may support, and indeed reform, how we work with international law (see further here). In this context, we must be brave enough to be willing to reconsider also the most entrenched notions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEAPIL Blog
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020


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