The title for our conference comes from a 2012 talk David Caron delivered at the American Society of International Law Conference when he was president of the society. Titled “Confronting Complexity, Valuing Elegance,” David urged that we approach complex legal problems with the aim of arriving at elegant solutions.
David and I were friends for over 30 years. On the professional side, I followed him as Chair of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration and he followed me as President of the American Society for International Law. We planned many symposia and programs together. One of the things we agreed on was that luncheon talks should be a bit light—substance with humor, “medicine with a spoonful of sugar.” David delivered such talks—as he did so many things—elegantly and (apparently) effortlessly
It has become a familiar trope to recite that we live in an era marked by an unprecedented growth in international courts and tribunals. Besides its empiricist overtones and familiar focus on the evolution of international law, this ritualized incantation serves to signal the increased importance of international lawyers. An entire generation of international law scholars and practitioners--of which David D. Caron was a leading representative--has been shaped by this new landscape of international adjudication that has departed from familiar professional reference points.
David D. Caron’s scholarship on the legitimacy of international law and international institutions was ground-breaking, expansive in its reach and its impact, and elegant in its analysis, form, and structure. The questions of legitimacy that he addressed in his writing represent some of the most urgent and important matters of international law, and some of the most difficult. They are questions about how power can be exercised fairly, how justice can be achieved in a diverse international community, and how institutions can be deployed to mitigate the world’s greatest challenges.