UCL Faculty of Laws


Dr Azaria gives keynote speech at the ACUNS- UN Workshop 2022

13 June 2022

Dr Azaria gives keynote speech at the 2022 joint workshop of the UN and the Academic Council on the United Nations System.


On 9 June 2022, Dr Danae Azaria, Associate Professor at UCL Laws and Director of State Silence, funded by the ERC, gave a keynote speech entitled ‘Ascribing a Voice to Silent States: Reflections on (Differentiated) Legislative Responsibility’ at the 2022 workshop organized jointly between the United Nations (UN) and the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) on ‘The Role of International Cooperation in Tackling Inequalities’.

The workshop and the keynote speech, are attended by UN officials and early career researchers, and supports UCL’s vision to promote UN Sustainable Development Goals through research and public engagement.

Recording & transcript now available

A recording of the speech is available to watch below. The transcript and pictures from the event can be viewed on the State Silence website

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZJCh1v5rPM

Keynote speech abstract 

International law-making processes are premised on the silencing and marginalization of particular non-State and State actors. But, international law also ascribes a voice, and particularly the meaning of acceptance, to the silence of States. In her keynote speech, Dr Azaria focuses on the latter silence. After explaining the conditions of acquiescence in international law, and why it is important whether the threshold of ‘being in a position to react’ within the rule of acquiescence takes into account the economic, technical or institutional capacity of each silent State, Dr Azaria argues that the reasoning behind acquiescence is that all States bear ‘legislative responsibility’: that States are expected to act diligently in a legal order whose distinct feature is that it is decentralized and is made through the interaction of States. Dr Azaria then reflects on the advantages and challenges of two models of ‘legislative responsibility’ that take into account the different capacities of States. More specifically, first, what she calls the ‘average State capacity’ option; and second, what she calls the ‘differentiated legislative responsibility’ option. She argues that in relation to both models there is difficulty in assessing the economic, technical and institutional capacity of States, and that while the ‘average State capacity’ model does not achieve its own objective, the ‘differentiated legislative responsibility’ model has the potential to undermine the determinacy of international law. Dr Azaria concludes that although there is no perfect answer, being aware of basic assumptions and of the mismatch between legal equality and substantive inequality of States is warranted if the international law-making process is to be less hegemonic and more inclusive.