As part of the ESIL/ASIL Global Engagement Series, an online event will take place with Dr. Frederick Cowell, Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck University in London, to discuss his monograph on Defensive Relativism: The Use of Cultural Relativism in International Legal Practice  (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022), which was awarded the ESIL Monograph Prize at the 2023 Conference in Aix-en-Provence. Frederick will be joined by Professor Serena Forlati, Professor Freya Baetens, and Professor Gleider Hernández, who will comment and discuss the main themes of the book. These include the juxtaposition of cultural relativism and the universalist aspirations of international human rights law, the various modes or techniques in which relativism can be invoked, and the wider conceptual implication of such discourses on international human rights law. The discussion will be chaired by Dr Federica Paddeu.


  • Frederick Cowell (author), Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck University
  • Serena Forlati (discussant), Professor of International Law at Universitá degli Studi di Ferrara
  • Freya Baetens (discussant), Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford
  • Gleider Hernández (discussant), Professor of Public International Law, University of Leuven
  • Federica Paddeu (chair), Associate Professor of Law, Queens’ College, University of Cambridge
Date: Friday, April 26, 2024 – 16:30 -17:30 CEST
Please register via this link.