It is good to see the collaborative discussion forum on Europe’s political futures see the light of day in Political Geography. The paper introduces a range of perspectives on contemporary (and future) European political geographies, from questions of human migration and bordering through to political identity and geoeconomics. In my intervention I was attempting to trace the interconnections between the European project and international law — to trace the ways in which the experimentation of Europe has advanced international legal institutions and practices, though these have often been overlooked at the expense of thinking through Europe’s role in shaping identity. While emphasising the power asymmetries in the enactment of international law, I wanted to try and sketch a more hopeful politics to the operation of international legal processes, one that looked beyond merely the legal outcomes of such activities:
But I want to end on a more hopeful note that points to the potential opportunities than that promoted by a more individualised account of law. In recent work examining processes of transitional justice in South East Europe I have examined countless instances where transnational legal authorities provided sites for redress. For example, for those seeking compensation or legal recognition as a victim of war crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina the ECtHR provides a key institution through to either achieve a legal outcome – lay claim to the resources or title to which they are due – or simply to providing a moral framework against which the behaviour of other (national or local courts) may be brought to account. The existence of the ECtHR provides the means through which styles of multi-level citizenship may be performed, where state institutions in site like Bosnia are incapable or reluctant to pursue human rights abuses, the European court has a key role to play.….Rather than thinking of legal outcomes across the spatiality of particular jurisdictions and the temporality of trial justice, this approach attempts to think through the common resources produced through law and the implications for understandings of justice and due process. In these terms…the meaning of Europe is a reflection of its use.
The paper gathers together interventions first presented at the Royal Geographical Society Conference in August 2016, thanks to Fiona McConnell for her convening and editing work.