Summer projects in Law

Search for Summer Research Scholarships projects in the Auckland Law School.

Histories of Women in International Law

Project code: LAW001


Anna Hood

In histories of international law the role of men looms large and the contributions of women to the development of the field are rarely considered. The project aims to address this gap in the literature. There will be four elements to the project the Summer Scholar will be working on the following two elements:

1)  The important constitutional moments in international legal history and the role women played in these moments. This will involve exploring which women were present in the constitutional moments (and the lead up to them), what roles they played/assumed, what interests they championed, what influenced their approaches, what influence they had on the events they were present at and how they found the experience.

2)    Instances in international legal history where women have sought to set the international legal agenda

The Summer Scholar will be tasked with conducting both primary and secondary research into the role that women have played in key constitutional moments in international law as well as into the international legal projects that women have championed. He/she will be require to write a memoranda outlining the research conducted.


Domestic Law Analogies in International Law

Project code: LAW002


An Hertogen

The project is on the use and permissibility of domestic law analogies to fill gaps in international law. Professor Weiler has argued that such analogies are impermissible, but equally added that most international lawyers are “habitual sinners” in this respect.

The question of whether analogies are an appropriate methodology to develop international law has however not been the subject of any systematic attention in academic literature since the publication in 1927 of Lauterpacht’s doctoral thesis on “Private law Sources and Analogies of International Law (with special reference to international arbitration)”. Since then, international relations and the international law that governs them have grown significantly. Of particular importance are the emergence of international organisations, such as the United Nations and its various agencies or the World Trade Organisation, and the emergence of new areas of international law, such as international environmental and international criminal law. When faced with international problems for which international law does not have direct answer, academic and practising international lawyers have often relied on domestic law analogies.

The goal of the project is to map the areas in which these domestic analogies are used, and analyse how they have influenced the development of international law. The specific focus of this project is on the use of public and criminal law analogies.

The Summer Scholar will review the secondary literature as well as, particularly in the context of international criminal law, a review of the case law to review how domestic law analogies have been used and what obstacles arose in the transmission of rules developed in the domestic context to the international context.


Global Environmental Constitutionalism

Project code: LAW003


Klaus Bosselmann

Over the last few years there has been quite an outburst of literature on global constitutionalism. Written mostly by international lawyers (and only a few environmental lawyers), this literature suggests a degree of harmonious development among the world’s national constitutions that would allow the new notions of international constitutional law and global constitutionalism. Broadly speaking, the thesis is that the increasing interdependence of nation states has already created new forms of transnational institutions and necessitates a transnational way to think about institutions that so far have been strictly national (such as for example ‘democracy’, ‘constitution’ or ‘environmental law’).

This research project aims for an article that sketches the theoretical and practical merits of global environmental constitutionalism (GEC).

At a theoretical level, GEC needs to be formulated as a methodology applicable to specific pervasive problems and deficits in the environmental law and governance domain, with a view to improving the much-debated fragmented and dysfunctional regime of international environmental law and governance. At a pragmatic level, GEC could meaningfully contribute to improve international environmental law and governance by: creating more efficient environmental laws, norms and standards; achieving better compliance with and enforcement of exiting laws; ensuring greater accountability for state and non-state parties; increasing civil society participation in environmental governance and access to justice; improving the legitimacy of international environmental law and governance; establishing a universal environmental ethical value system similar to that of global constitutionalism; and promoting and safeguarding substantive principles that address fundamental ecological standards and rights, such as inter- and intra-generational equity.

The Summer Scholar would be required to attend initial meetings with the supervisor, scoping of the relevant literature and drafting of individual chapters.


Watching the Watchdogs: An Examination of Parliamentary Ombudsmen in New Zealand and Australia

Project code: LAW004


Ron Paterson

The project will examine how the role of the Parliamentary Ombudsman has evolved in New Zealand and Australia, and critiquing the effectiveness of the modern Ombudsman and the appropriateness of current legislative models and accountability mechanisms.

The Summer Scholar will be expected to carry out the following:

a)    review research literature, focussing on NZ, Australian, Canadian and UK Parliamentary Ombudsmen

b)    review grey literature, including papers held by ANZ and UK Ombudsman Associations

c)    review literature on the Integrity branch (Auditor Generals, etc)

d)    review reports of Parliamentary select committees overseeing Ombudsmen, and any relevant law reform reports

e)    review media reports and on-line blogs re Ombudsmen

f)    examine annual reports of NZ, Australian, Canadian and UK Parliamentary Ombudsmen and compile comparative data re complaint data, including percentage of complaints investigated, own initiative inquiries undertaken, and timeliness

g)    undertake email survey of NZ, Australian, Canadian and UK Parliamentary Ombudsmen asking research questions.

The proposed supervisor’s thesis (based on experience as an Ombudsman and reading of the fairly sparse research literature) is that Ombudsmen are not clear about their purpose; that backlogs and delays, and high rates of complainant and agency dissatisfaction, may be indicative of problems in the model; that current methods of early resolution of complaints without investigation may be unfair; that Ombudsman offices should (in their non-investigative work) be subject to freedom of information laws; and that current Parliamentary accountability mechanisms do not ensure effective oversight. The proposed supervisor will argue that the current model of Parliamentary Ombudsman needs an overhaul.


The New Zealand Constitution: an Analysis in Terms of Principles

Project code: LAW005


Bruce Harris

Work towards completion of a book on the New Zealand constitution, which attempts to explain and critique the New Zealand constitution as a system built on 18 foundation principles. A chapter is devoted to each of the principles. The text and footnotes of the eighteen chapters are completed to first draft stage.

The Summer Scholar will be expected to check thoroughly the whole text and all the footnotes for accuracy, as well as to come forward with any suggestions that they may have for the improvement of the text and footnotes.


Part 1: International Arbitration. Part 2: Self Interest and Corruption: Changing Concepts

Project code: LAW006

International Arbitration

Supervisor: Amokura Kawharu

The proposed supervisor is currently researching issues in the field of international arbitration for three projects – the international investment law in international relations theory (journal article); the intersections between international investment law and indigenous rights, with a focus on New Zealand’s approach to the Treaty of Waitangi in its trade and investment negotiations (journal article); and the overlay of public policy in international commercial arbitration (as part of a collaborative book project). The projects are all related to her core expertise in international arbitration.

As the summer research period is still some time away, the exact project that will be focussed on has not yet been determined, as work may progress with one or more by then.

The Summer Scholar will assist with primary research, literature reviews and case summaries.

Self Interest and Corruption: Changing Concepts

Supervisor: Janet McLean

This project emerged out of a workshop discussion about the proposed supervisor’s 2012 book Searching for the State in British Legal Thought CUP at Oxford last November. An undeveloped theme of the book was how eighteenth century ideas of patronage were challenged in the nineteenth century by new requirements of public sector neutrality, and again in the late twentieth century when self-interest was rehabilitated in theories of the new public management. The line between what was perceived as proper stakeholder influence and what was viewed as corruption or conflict of interest moved significantly in these different epochs. This project aims to develop a political and legal history of the concept of corruption in Britain and New Zealand. The project is just beginning and its scope will need to be refined.

The scholar would be required to read the aforementioned book and find references to the broader themes. He or she will undertake bibliographic searches of the relevant literature. These will include institutional, doctrinal, legislative and theoretical sources:

  1. Government reports leading to public sector reforms (including historical reports).
  2. Case law – especially in the area of trustees duties, conflicts of interest, related transactions.
  3. Statutes – conflict of interest rules and consultation rules in statutes both contemporary and nineteenth century (if available) 
  4. Secondary materials discussing corruption, conflicts, neutrality, stakeholders, patronage and related concepts.

The summer scholar work closely with the supervisor in exploring the concepts underlying the project.