ICON•S is an international learned society with members from all around the globe. Members include scholars in all fields of law and beyond to the humanities and social sciences, and at all levels of seniority, from students to emeritus faculty.


Our Members

ICON•S provides its members with the best avenues for building meaningful relationships and exchanging ideas internationally to advance its mission.

We invite all interested scholars and practitioners – from law and the social sciences – to formally become Members of the Society by registering online here.


Our Mission

True, in our classrooms we still teach “con. law”, “ad. law” and “int. law” separately – with some justification: they retain their reality and, heuristically, one has to start somewhere. But in litigation and jurisprudence, law-making and academic reflection, the boundaries between these disciplines and the borders between the national and the transnational – and even global – have become porous. Indeed, they have become so porous that at times one is actually dealing with an AltNeuland of public law.

  • Why create a new international learned society – are there not enough already?
  • Why public law – do we not typically teach Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, or International Law (and now the much à la mode Global Law)?
  • Why does the word “comparative” not feature in the ICON·S title? Surely if we bring together constitutionalists from, say, Japan and Canada or administrative lawyers from Italy and Turkey their common language will be Comparative Law?

We are certainly not announcing the death of Constitutional Law or Administrative Law and the comparative variants of both. But, at a minimum, a full explication and understanding of today’s “constitutional law” cannot take place in isolation from other branches of public law or in a context that is exclusively national. The same is true for these other branches too. Public law, as a field of knowledge that transcends these dichotomies, thus deserves our renewed intellectual attention. Our German colleagues, who have always had a more holistic approach to public law, may smile with some satisfaction.

In the same vein, the divide between law and political science has become porous too. Some of the finest insights on public law come from social scientists deeply cognizant of law. In addition, is there any legal scholarship that does not make at least some use of the theoretical and empirical understandings and methodologies external to the legal discipline, stricto sensu?

What then of “Comparative Law”? Are we announcing the death of the field? Perhaps not of the field, but of the word. The field is flourishing. It is possible to think of the field of Public Law in Chomskyan terms: there is a surface language, which differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but there is also a deeper structure that is common to the phenomenon of public law. It is difficult to find a public law scholar whose work is not “comparative” in some respects: informed by the theoretical discussion of X or Y in another jurisdiction; referring – often by way of contrast, sometimes by way of similarity – to a foreign leading case somewhere else as in “this is the Marbury v Madison of our legal system”; addressing universal themes of constitutional theory or design; or simply searching for a constitutional “best practice” overseas. Like Monsieur Jourdain who discovered to his astonishment that he was speaking prose, we in the field of public law should not be surprised to discover that in one way or another we are all comparativists. To limit our new Society to those scholars whose work is explicitly “comparative” would be hugely restrictive and would limit many valuable conversations that go well beyond the formally comparative.

Learned societies have often been founded to validate the emergence, autonomy, or breakaway of an intellectual endeavor. By contrast, international learned societies are often driven by the realization of intellectual cross-fertilization that can stem from disciplinary ecumenism. ICON·S is both! We believe that there is a compelling case for the establishment of an International Society of Public Law predicated on these sensibilities – a new breakaway field, the content of which respects traditional categories yet rejects an excessive division of intellectual labor that no longer mirrors reality.

The International Society of Public Law is at its strongest when early-career scholars are central participants in the life of the Society. ICON·S is committed to giving early-career scholars the support and encouragement they need to become excellent scholars and teachers, with a view to enriching and enlivening the Society and public law more generally. To this end, ICON·S makes a commitment to developing early-career scholars as an explicit criterion for approving a national or regional chapter, and we especially welcome early-career scholars to join the Society.

For purposes of ICON·S, an “early-career scholar” is understood as an aspiring career academic who self-identifies as such and/or whose terminal degree for entering the profession has not yet begun, is in the process of being completed, or was earned within the previous five years.

Further information on ICON·S and its mission can be found in the I·CON editorials ICON•S: State of the Society by Gráinne de Búrca and Ran Hirschl and The future of ICON•S: Looking toward 2021 and beyond by Lorenzo Casini and Rosalind Dixon.

Welcome to ICON·S!

ICON•S | The International Society of Public Law
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
United States

© 2024 ICON•S