[Editor’s Note: ICONnect is publishing a series of book reviews that recently ran in ICON (Volume 18, Issue 2: July 2020) on “Law and Gender in the Literature.”]
Irini Papanicolopulu ed. Gender and the Law of the Sea. Brill Nijhoff, 2019 (hardback). Pp. xxii+ 368. € 138.00. ISBN: 9789004375161.
International Journal of Constitutional Law, Volume 18, Issue 2, July 2020, Pages 651–654, https://doi.org/10.1093/icon/moaa042
Almost thirty years have passed since the seminal “Feminist Approaches to International Law” by Hilary Charlesworth, Christine Chinkin, and Shelley Wright appeared in the American Journal of International Law, and these years have seen the rapid expansion of the field of feminist international legal studies. Scholars have applied a feminist lens to a range of international legal issues, but have overall directed most of their attention towards human rights law and related subjects. There still seems to be something of a tacit understanding that most areas of classic state-centered international law are not accessible to a feminist analysis, or that the result of such an analysis is evident beforehand: namely, that the core pillars of the inter-state legal order are constructed in a completely gender-neutral way.
It is thus no small undertaking to come forward with a collection whose title brings together the words “gender” and “law of the sea,” be it only because of the gut reaction most international lawyers will have towards the combination. The law of the sea, with its rules regarding coastal delineation, fisheries, and flag states, setting the stage for cases such as Lotus and North Sea Continental Shelf, is viewed as probably the single most technical and functional area of international law, thus implying, for most, gender neutrality. However, in the same breath, it also carries the strongest implication of “traditional,” Hemingwayesk masculinity and of a world where women are not. It is this second assumption that puts the first one—that the law of the sea is indeed neutral—under some intellectual strain.Read the rest of this entry…