2024 ESIL Monograph Prize

The deadline for the receipt of books that are submitted for consideration for the 2024 Monograph Prize is 15 February 2024.

Please find the ESIL Monograph Prize Guidelines here.

If you would like to know more about the ESIL Collaborative Book Prize, please read here.

Freya Baetens and Federica Paddeu are the ESIL Board members coordinating the Prize; please contact them with any questions.


The 2023 ESIL Monograph Prize was awarded in September 2023 during the 18th ESIL Annual Conference in Aix-en-Provence to Frederick Cowell for his book Defensive Relativism The Use of Cultural Relativism in International Legal Practice  (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022).

Jury’s report

The Jury had the difficult task of selecting one among several books of excellent academic quality. It unanimously identified Defensive Relativism as the best monograph due to the author’s ability to shed new light on a widely discussed topic. The merit of this insightful and thought-provoking book is that it brings to the old dichotomy of “universalism” and “cultural relativism” of human rights a novel approach, which is analytical rather than ideological. Being based on State practice, the book offers a realistic picture of the difficult issue, systematizing the different ways in which States strive to infuse flexibility linked to cultural relativism in international human rights law, and the ends they pursue. In a context where the balance between the ‘global’ and the ‘local’ is delicate and constantly shifting, the book’s select, yet compelling analysis of relevant State practice and of its underlying rationale will help scholars and practitioners alike to appraise more fully defensive relativism – which the author views as ‘a natural consequence of having a regime of universal human rights’ – and possibly to avert its most negative consequences.

The Jury also identified a runner up, Hitoshi Nasu, The Concept of Security in International Law, West Point Press, 2022, which offers a comprehensive and well-balanced analysis of an extremely complex topic.




Previous Book Prize winners: 

  • ESIL Monograph Prize 2022: Anne Orford (University of Melbourne) for International Law and the Politics of History, CUP, 2021
  • ESIL Book Prize 2021: François Delerue (University of Leiden) for Cyber Operations and International Law, CUP, 2020.
  • ESIL Book Prize 2020: Daniel Peat (University of Leiden) for Comparative Reasoning in International Courts and Tribunals, CUP, 2019.
  • ESIL Book Prize 2019: John Linarelli, Margot E. Salomon and Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah for The Misery of International Law: Confrontations with Injustice in the Global Economy, OUP, 2018, and Alejandro Rodiles for Coalitions of the Willing and International Law: The Interplay between Formality and Informality, CUP, 2018.
  • ESIL Book Prize 2018: Dr. Guy Fiti Sinclair (Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law) for his book To Reform the World: International Organizations and the Making of Modern States, OUP, 2017.
  • ESIL Book Prize 2017: Prof. James A. Green (Professor of Public International Law at the University of Reading) for his book The Persistent Objector Rule in International Law, OUP, 2016
  • ESIL Book Prize 2016: Dr Arnulf Becker Lorca (Visiting  Assistant Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki) Mestizo International Law: A Global Intellectual History 1842-1933, CUP, 2015
  • ESIL Book Prize 2015:  Monica Garcia-Salmones Rovira (Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki) The Project of Positivism in International Law, OUP, 2014
  • ESIL Book Prize 2014Sandesh Sivakumaran (University of Nottingham), The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict, Oxford University Press 2012; Ingo Venzke (University of Amsterdam), How Interpretation Makes International Law. On Semantic Change and Normative Twists, OUP, 2012
  • ESIL Book Prize 2012Michael Waibel (Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge), Sovereign Defaults before International Courts and Tribunals, CUP, 2011
  • ESIL Book Prize 2010: Lorenzo Gradoni (University of Bologna), Regime Failure nel diritto internazionale, CEDAM, 2009
  • ESIL Book Prize 2008: Matthew Craven (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), The Decolonization of International Law: State Succession and the Law of Treaties, OUP, 2007