Women in Law. International Law, Heritage, History and the Common Good

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My firm belief is that education empowers society and ultimately sets people free, enabling us to be independent and determine our path

Valentina Vadi is a Professor of International Economic Law at Lancaster University

It is a distinct honour and pleasure to write a short blog piece for the ElgarBlog in time for this year’s International Women’s Day. I am a professor of international economic law at Lancaster University Law School. I coordinate and teach courses on international investment law and international trade law, conduct research on various international law issues and currently serve as an academic advisor to several students. While I opted to study law for practical reasons, I began enjoying it after attending a course on international law. I loved it! People say that international law is the least legal (that is, most political) subject one can study in law school. What I most like about international law is its international dimension, its focus on jurisprudence, and its dynamism. That said, I would have never thought I would become a professor of international (economic) law. Various experiences—an Erasmus in Switzerland, a Master’s degree at Oxford, a PhD in Florence, a lectureship in the Netherlands, a postdoc at New York University and further teaching experience in Belgium, China, Italy and the UK—all led me to my first permanent job as a reader (associate professor) at Lancaster University in 2013. Promotion to full professorship followed in 2015. I am passionate about research. International law allows me to combine many interests in law, history, languages, heritage and other subjects. Writing is my way to understand reality, and I enjoy finding solutions to legal dilemmas. Producing a good text is as challenging as it is fascinating.

My interests have evolved since finishing my studies. My research has mainly focused on international economic law. After investigating the linkage between the protection of public health and economic globalization, I started investigating the interplay between the latter and the safeguarding of cultural heritage. The two projects had some common roots—the idea of exploring the connection between different sets of values and envisaging better ways to harmonize them in international law. I am currently finishing a book, Cultural Heritage in International Economic Law. The European Research Council has generously funded this research, and I am very grateful for this exciting opportunity. More recently, I have widened my research topics to the history and theory of international law. I have investigated the use of analogies in international law and the use of concepts such as proportionality, reasonableness and standards of review in international adjudication. I am also doing research on international legal history, investigating the contribution of Alberico Gentili, a law scholar who lived in the sixteenth century, to the development of the early modern law of nations. This will be the core of a research project I will conduct at the Michigan Law School, where I will be a Grotius Research Fellow this spring.

My firm belief is that education empowers society and ultimately sets people free, enabling us to be independent and determine our path. While much remains to be done to achieve equality, it remains a vital objective. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, ‘We will all profit from a more diverse, inclusive society, understanding, accommodating, even celebrating our difference, while pulling together for the common good’.[1]

[1] Ruth Bader Ginsburg, My Own Words (New York: Simon and Schuster 2016) 275.


Valentina’s book Proportionality, Reasonableness and Standards of Review in International Investment Law and Arbitration is available to view here.




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