UCL Faculty of Laws


Dr Azaria speaks at Harvard Law School and Vanderbilt Law School on her new State Silence research

21 March 2022

Dr Azaria (Associate Professor at UCL Laws) will speak about her new research on ‘Not All State Silences Speak: A Theory of (Non-)Communicative State Silences’.


Dr Danae Azaria will give lectures at Vanderbilt Law School (24 March 2022) and at Harvard Law School (29 March 2022) on her new research on ‘Not All State Silences Speak: A Theory of (Non-)Communicative State Silences’.

Sign up to the Harvard Law School lecture (hybrid): https://hls.harvard.edu/event/not-all-state-silences-speak/.

A recording of the lecture is now available to watch below.

In her lectures, building on pragmatics, Dr Azaria argues that a distinction can be drawn in international law between on the one hand State silence that speaks, and on the other hand rules on presumptions about the state of mind of a State drawn from the fact of State silence. In the former case, State silence is functionally equivalent to a speech act communicating an intended message. In the latter case, State silence does not communicate any message – the silent State may be trying to conceal its intentions by remaining silent. However, from the fact of State silence an ‘assessor’ (a court or other States) infers acceptance (e.g. acquiescence) or opposition (e.g. establishing the existence of a dispute and thus the jurisdiction of an international court, as is currently pleaded in the ongoing proceedings in The Gambia v. Myanmar before the ICJ). Both instances involve ‘reactive’ State silence, and both instances are subject to strict conditions. However, their distinction is important because: first, the conditions to which they are subject as well as the rationale behind them differ; and second, because it is not clear that presumed consent as opposed to communicated intention is required for making an international agreement, and because giving consent to an otherwise internationally wrongful act, such as the use of force in one’s own territory, cannot be presumed.

For more information about both events and the recordings, visit: https://www.statesilence.org/events.

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