TLS - Symposium Architects of Global

Symposium Architectures of the Global

Date: Time: 09:00 Location: Dante Building

We are delighted to extend a warm invitation to the Global Law 2023 International Symposium. This prestigious event celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Global Law Bachelors and continues the 60th anniversary celebration of our school. Please join us and save the date on the 26th of October 2023!

The central question: How are contemporary developments reshaping the concept of the global in Global Law?

Globalization is not only a process of unification, as has been assumed; It is a process of unification and fragmentation. During the symposium we will therefore rethink the globality of global law. It approaches this questions by focusing on four major architectures through which globalization is taking shape: global value chains, global states (in the plural), the global biosphere, and global digitalization. 

Each architecture will be discussed in a different panel. This approach allows for the intervention of different disciplinary perspectives, legal and otherwise. In-sofar as the global involves a reconfiguration of the spatiality of law and governance, the transformations of space driven by these different architectures are the unifying theme of the symposium. Conversely, the symposium engages with “architectures” of the global to emphasize that globalization processes involve a reconfiguration of spatiality. Each of the panels picks up on this unifying theme, but does so from the distinctive perspective of its theme.

To attend, register on the link below before 19 October 2023.


Panel discussions

During the symposium, each panel will consist of two esteemed external speakers and a chairperson from the Tilburg Law School. The speakers will present concise and provocative theses, followed by an analysis and justification of their arguments within a 10 to 15-minute timeframe. Following the presentations, the chairperson will offer a succinct response to the two talks, raising questions that will stimulate engagement with the audience. The symposium culminates with a synthesizing presentation by Elaine Fahey, who will reflect on the implications of the panel discussions for education in global law.

Panel 1: Global value chains

Time: 09:15-10:30

Location: DZ1, Dante building, Tilburg University

Speakers: Poul Kjaer, Copenhagen School of Business and Almut Schilling-Vacaflor, University of Osnabrück

Chair: Paul Verbruggen, Tilburg University

Overview speakers


Global Value Chains (GVCs) are key architectures of economic globalization. They constitute transnational networks for the production and supply of goods and services, and ac-count for over 70% of global trade. GVCs pave the way for economic growth in the Global South. However, they have also led to staggering problems for individuals and communities in low-income countries. Environmental catastrophes in the mining and oil industry, tragedies related to occupational health and safety in the garment sector, and incessant use of child labor in the agri-food sector, are just a few examples. These excesses of global capitalism call for action to check and correct the ways in which multinational corporations headquartered in the Global North have used private law instruments (equity, con-tracts, IP-rights) to maximize their profits. 

For these multinationals, GVCs have become transnational conveyor belts transferring regulatory norms from North to South with the purpose of minimizing their risk exposure to whatever happens at production locations. For states, however, GVCs have become objects of regulation with the goal of mitigating the adverse environmental and social impacts they have in the Global South. In this panel we address the changing nature of GVCs and their regulation. 

How does the unfolding regionalization of global trade affect GVCs, their functions, and their regulation? To what extent do GVCs offer a trusted route towards emancipation and empowerment of the Global South, instead of being merely an economic necessity for those least well-off? Which blend of public/private, hard/soft, global/local rules will govern the environmental and social risks emerging within GVCs? How could conflicts involving environmental and human rights standards of the North and cultural norms and institutions from the South be reconciled? This panel invites speakers to engage with the opportunities and risks of GVCs from different disciplinary perspectives, considering a diversity of regulatory initiatives and stakeholders.

Panel 2: ‘Global’ Digitalization

Time: 11:00-12:15

Location: DZ1, Dante building, Tilburg University

Speakers: Nanjala Nyabola, writer, political analyst, and activist based in Nairobi, Kenya and Angelina Fischer, New York University

Chair: Matthijs Nelemans, Tilburg University

Overview speakers


This panel invites reflections on the intersection between globalization and digitalization as seen in narratives emerging around the world. There are a variety of impacts on our social, political, and cultural lives because of the consumption of digital content (such as due to recommender systems); due to the market power of big tech companies and the surveillance economy, and due to increased securitization of public services such as in policing, social welfare, and health case, where state control is taking precedence over the privacy and autonomy of citizens. 

Over the last few years, the effects of data and technology are being seen in shaping market relations, creating new economies, challenging labour norms, and impacting democratic practice like freedom of speech. These have resulted in interesting legal challenges around how to regulate the digital from questions related to state sovereignty, questions around (self) regulation and ethical guidelines versus creating legally enforceable safeguards, and challenges of ensuring human agency in technologically mediated worlds. The effects of digitalization are seen, regulated, and experienced differently in different contexts and therefore in this panel, we are interested in unpacking the existence of many worlds around the digital. 

We take plurality as a starting point in conceiving not just the phenomenon of digitalization but also the ways in which it is systematizing and structuring relations between individuals and communities. In focusing on the architectures of the ‘global’, including in such governance issues, we are interested in perspectives on the topic from different standpoints, for instance from an infrastructure level, which looks at the computational influence that implicate digitalization globally; the regulatory level which examines the location, market power, and le-gal cultures of regulatory proposals, and an epistemic level which discuss knowledge making around experiences and contexts with the digital. This panel therefore asks the following questions: Does governing global experiences of digitalization require a different strategy for global law? How do we account for fragmentations of digital infrastructure, regulatory institutions, and technical capacity? What are the tools already available that can ensure enforcement transnationally? What norms and values exist to ensure plurality in regulation?

Panel 3: (The) Global State(s)

Time: 14:15-15:30

Location: DZ1, Dante building, Tilburg University

Speakers: Arnulf Becker Lorca, now at Brandeis, as of September EUI and Tanzil Chowdhury, Queen Mary University of London

Chair: Morag Goodwin, Tilburg University

Overview speakers


Oft mistakenly viewed as having a fixed form and configuration until the impact of globalisation, the state has rather been an adaptable construct, regularly undergoing reinvention in response to changing circumstances both within and without. Moreover, the statsas political, geographical and emotional construct has always been ‘global’, with its form-taking and self-determined purpose taking shape over the centuries through transboundary ‘encounters’. These border encounters and the flow of goods, knowledge and ideas, wealth and violence have formed understandings of political space and community, of territory, of nationality, of sovereignty that have travelled in multiple directions. 

In this panel, we will explore contemporary manifestations of the global state. How are we to understand the global state as a political configuration of place and people, of idea and form, in the 21st century? For example, can a state such as Tuvalu survive rising sea levels via the Metaverse as a digital entity? How should we characterize the challenges that face the state as political construct and what adaptations to the notion of state are we seeing? Finally, how do we, as scholars, think with the global state rather than beyond the state?

Panel 4: The Global Biosphere

Time: 16:00-17:15

Location: DZ1, Dante building, Tilburg University

Speakers: Iván Roncancio, McGill and Andrea Mühlebach, University of Bremen

Chair: Floor Fleurke, Tilburg University

Overview speakers


The heat dome that recently baked the American and Canadian North-West. Massive floods across the world. The Amazon region rapidly approaching a tipping point that will convert the forest into a savannah. Melting icecaps in the Arctic and Antarctica leading to rising sea levels. The sixth mass extinction event. These are but some of the manifesta-tions of the so-called Anthropocene – the current epoch in which some human groups are impacting the functioning of the Earth system in ways that rival the forces of Nature. These events draw attention to the notion of the biosphere, which, according to the online Britannica, is the “relatively thin life-supporting stratum of Earth’s surface, extending from a few kilometres into the atmosphere to the deep-sea vents of the ocean. The bio-sphere is a global ecosystem composed of living organisms (biota) and the abiotic (nonliving) factors from which they derive energy and nutrients.” 

The existential, in-creasingly urgent, challenges posed by the Anthropocene call for a rethink of our contem-porary doctrinal interpretations of the spatiality of legal orders, according to which in-ternational law joins together a multitude of territorially bounded states. How might legal orders need to be reconfigured if we can no longer count on being able to separate the conditions governing the legal ordering of human polities from the conditions governing the Earth system? Might the biosphere offer an alternative to territoriality as an organiz-ing principle of law? Does the biosphere suggest a new approach to the globality of global law, an approach which would join together humans and other-than-humans in relations of mutual dependency? What would we need to do to rethink global law along these lines?


Overview speakers

October 26, 2023

DZ1, Dante building, Tilburg University

09:00-09:15 hrsOpening and contextualising of the theme with Geert Vervaeke and Hans Lindahl
09:15-10:30 hrsPanel 1: Global value chains
30min coffee break
11:00-12:15 hrsGlobal digitalizations
13:30-14:15 hrsPrerecorded videoclips by Global Law League scholars 
14:15-15:30 hrsPanel 3: Global state(s)
30min break
16:00-17:15 hrsPanel 4: Global biosphere
17:30-18:00 hrsSynthesis and educational implications
Celebration of 60th and 10th Anniversaries with drinks