Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Mortimer Sellers, Stephan Kirste

Besson, Samantha

  • Stephen SmithEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0_189-1

Besson, Samantha (born 1973), is a legal academic in public international law and European law. Born in Beirut and a national of Switzerland and the United Kingdom, Besson has been a Professor of Law at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland since 2005.


Besson received her initial degree in law summa cum laude in 1996 from the University of Fribourg. In 1998, she earned a Magister Juris with first class honors in European and Comparative Law from Balliol College at the University of Oxford, completing a thesis on the economic and legal impact of anti-discrimination laws. In 1999, she completed a Doctorate in Constitutional Law summa cum laude from the University of Fribourg and in 2004 a postdoctoral Habilitation at the University of Bern. Her 1999 PhD on the legal theory and Swiss application of horizontal equality was awarded prizes for being the best PhD dissertation submitted at the University of Fribourg and among the best dissertations submitted in Switzerland.


Besson began her academic and teaching career in 2001 as a tutorial lecturer in jurisprudence and political theory at colleges of the University of Oxford. In the same year, she also became a lecturer in comparative constitutional law at the University of Geneva, and she continued at Geneva until 2005. In 2004, she joined the Law Faculty at the University of Fribourg, where she became a full professor in 2005. Besson has been a visiting professor at a variety of institutions, including Harvard Law School, the Hague Academy of International Law, the University of Lausanne, and Duke Law School.

Research and Publications

Besson’s research has centered on legal theory in European, public international, and human rights law. Her ambitious 2005 monograph The Morality of Conflict: Reasonable Disagreement and Law is a continuation of the development of Besson’s proposed “General Jurisprudence of Conflict” that she first explored in her Habilitation dissertation. Along with José Luis Martí, Besson was the co-editor of Deliberative Democracy and its Discontents and Legal Republicanism: National and International Perspectives. Besson and John Tasioulas co-edited 2010’s The Philosophy of International Law, a much-needed overview of the philosophical underpinnings of public international law and its various appendages. In 2011, Besson delivered a plenary lecture at the 25th IVR World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy in Frankfurt am Main, since published in ARSP-Beiheft no. 136. Besson is the author of a number of French- and German-language legal textbooks on international and European law, all of which have gone through multiple editions. Besson has published works in English, French, and German.



  1. Besson S (1998) The law and economics of anti-discrimination law. Dissertation, University of OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Besson S (1999) L’égalité horizontale: L’égalité de traitement entre particuliers – des fondements théoriques au droit privé suisse. Dissertation, University of FribourgGoogle Scholar
  3. Besson S (2004) Reasonable disagreement and the law. Dissertation, University of BernGoogle Scholar
  4. Besson S (2005) The morality of conflict: reasonable disagreement and the law. Hart Publishing, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  5. Besson S (2016a) Droit constitutionnel européen: Abrégé de cours et résumés de jurisprudence, 3rd edn. Stämpfli, BernGoogle Scholar
  6. Besson S (2016b) Droit international public: Abrégé de cours et résumés de jurisprudence, 3rd edn. Stämpfli, BernGoogle Scholar
  7. Besson S, Martí JL (eds) (2006) Deliberative democracy and its discontents: national and international perspectives. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  8. Besson S, Martí JL (eds) (2009) Legal republicanism: national and international. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Besson S, Tasioulas J (eds) (2010) The philosophy of international law. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  10. Besson S, Ziegler AR (2012) Internationale verträge: Textsammlung in völkerrecht, 2nd edn. Stämpfli, BernGoogle Scholar
  11. Besson S, Ziegler AR (2016) Traités internationaux: Recueil de textes de droit international public, 3rd edn. Stämpfli, BernGoogle Scholar
  12. Besson S, Breitenmoser S, Sassoli M, Ziegler AR (2013) Völkerrecht/droit international public: Aide-mémoire, 2nd edn. Dike, ZürichGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sally Scholz
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentVillanova UniversityVillanovaUSA