This seminar is co-sponsored by Centre for International Governance and Justice (RegNet, CAP) and the Centre for International and Public Law (CoL).

How do actors undertake institutional design in complex systems? Scholars recognize that many international regimes are becoming increasingly complex. Yet relatively little is known about how actors design or redesign institutions amid this complexity. As participant-observers in the UN negotiations on investment treaty reform, we have watched state officials and other participants grapple with this question for several years.

To help explain what we have observed, we conceptualize these participants as complex designers—actors who seek to design and redesign institutions within complex adaptive systems. We then formulate three emergent design principles that seem to guide their approach as they aim to create: flexible structures, balanced content, and adaptive management processes.

In a dynamic era marked by unpredictability, division, and complex transnational challenges, we believe these concepts may prove to be increasingly relevant in global governance.

An open access paper is associated with this presentation.

About the Speaker

Anthea Roberts is a Professor at RegNet, ANU. Her specialist research areas include public international law, trade and investment, the effect of geopolitical change on global governance, and understanding and navigating complex systems. Her books include Is International Law International? (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why It Matters with Nicolas Lamp (Harvard University Press, 2021).

About the Commentator

Ntina Tzouvala, who joined the ANU College of Law as a Senior Lecturer in July 2020, will provide commentary. She was promoted to Associate Professor in January 2022. Her work focuses on the political economy, history and theory of international law. She is especially interested in historical materialism, deconstruction, feminist and queer legal thoery. Her first monograph, Capitalism as Civilisation: A History of International Law, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020, and was awarded the 2022 ASIL Certificate of Merit for a preeminent contribution to creative scholarship.

This event will be delivered online via Zoom.

Image credit: Image of hands gardening by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash; free to use under the Unsplash License

Event details

Event date

Tue, 22 Mar 2022, 12:30 - 1:30pm