UW Law School and the Global Legal Studies Center are pleased to host the 2021 Annual Conference of the American Society of Comparative Law and the ASCL Younger Comparativists Committee (YCC) Conference.

This year's theme is "Internationalizing Comparative Law." 

In case of technical difficulties

In case of technical difficulties at the conference, please call Jen Ahlstrom at (608) 262-6784.

Bill Reed (608) 890-0849 will be the backup if needed.


As fields of study and of legal practice, comparative and international law are increasingly in conversation with one another. Our proposed general theme, “Internationalizing Comparative Law,” reflects this complex new relationship. This conference will explore the ways in which globalization—and particularly the proliferation of substantively meaningful international-law-based institutions—have diversified and modified the opportunities for actors, both at the national and supra-national levels, to engage in or to experience the effects of comparative legal thinking and practice. This theme incorporates at least three distinct but thematically linked dimensions.

The first dimension refers to the manner in which international bodies treat each other’s opinions and reports. In recent decades, international tribunals with overlapping charges and missions have proliferated. “Comparative law” increasingly takes place between international legal organs, as International Tribunal A considers how International Tribunal B dealt with a similar legal issue. The proliferation of regional human rights tribunals and their ever-expanding caseloads, for example, have increased opportunities for international lawyers and judges to engage in comparative legal analysis of the decisions and normative pronouncements of overlapping institutions. However, we might also locate this phenomenon in issues of economic integration—comparative law as practiced by Free Trade Associations like ASEAN and its FTA brethren. We also see it in the worlds of WTO and international investment law, where trade and investment dispute settlement bodies are separately asked to pronounce on the international legality of anti-smoking regulations. This phenomenon raises interesting questions of theoretical and practical importance. How well-equipped are international judges to engage in high-quality comparative analysis of the legal practice of sister international institutions? What should determine when an international tribunal should “borrow” or “transplant” a legal concept, rule, or procedure developed elsewhere? How frequently does such borrowing or transplantation take place? How frequently should it take place? Do trade and investment tribunals have competence to correctly understand what its sister institution has done, or to appropriately transplant that “foreign” practice into its own domain?

A second dimension refers to the manner in which international bodies interpret and deploy domestic law. In applying international law, international bodies are often called upon to understand domestic laws and procedures. Domestic law serves as “foreign” law that the international tribunal must determine (and perhaps apply), and as law that is hierarchically inferior. In some sense, and especially in the human rights context, this practice is hardly new. The European Court of Human Rights has long considered the meaning and application of domestic law in determining whether Convention signatories are following internationalized, quasi-constitutional norms. What we find interesting, and less explored in the academic literature, is the extent to which non-human-rights tribunals, particularly in the fields of trade and investment, are increasingly called upon to understand and to attribute international legal significance to domestic law, as part of their international law functions.

The third dimension also involves domestic legal systems and is referred to as foreign affairs law: it refers to the way in which domestic legal actors understand and incorporate internationally generated norms and laws into their own domestic legal systems. International investment law, for example, makes internationally wrongful certain actions that states might take through their domestic legal systems, where those actions harm the profitability of a foreign investor’s operations. In some cases, the international norm may be radically different from domestic norms. Examples can be found in other fields, such as environmental law, in which national courts are increasingly looking to internationally generated norms as relevant to domestic environmental law, referred to as “global environmental constitutionalism.”

Conference Details

Please note that due to the increasing numbers of the Delta variant, the ASCL executive board decided to hold the conference virtually.


Conference events will be on Thursday, October 21st and Friday, October 22nd:

planning Committee

Conference planning committee (UW Law School):


We are pleased to announce the plenary session comprising renowned scholars in the field. It will be chaired by Professor Jason Yackee and Professor Alexandra Huneeus will be the commentator.

Plenary comprises of:


View the final program (PDF)


Register for the American Society of Comparative Law conference and YCC

Deadline for registration is October 18, 2021 (extended from Oct 10, 2021)

Links to join the sessions and instructions will be sent to those who have registered after the registration deadline. Panelists should also register.

Registration fees

Because the conference will be held virtually now, no registration fee will be charged. However, you need to register in order to receive the link to join the event.

Publication opportunity

If you are interested in publishing in the online version of the Wisconsin International Law Journal, see the Jus Gentium Fall 2021 Call for Submissions (PDF).


Global Legal Studies Center, UW Law School, American Society of Comparative Law, and East Asian Legal Studies Center.


Please send an email to: ASCLannualmeeting@law.ucla.edu or gls@law.wisc.edu

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