Law And Millennium Goals: No One Left Behind!

This year’s Postgraduate Conference “Law And Millennium Goals: No One Left Behind!” focussed on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals initiated by the United Nations.

After weeks of preparing and organising, we (in the student conference committee) were delighted to receive responses to a Call for Papers from countries throughout the Commonwealth system, from Trinidad and Tobago to Belgium. Together with Kent Law School Senior Lecturer Dr Sophie Vigneron, we  finally welcomed participants to Kent’s Canterbury campus on 4/5 June.

Kicking off the conference, Dr Vigneron delivered an opening statement outlining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that countries adopted in 2015. Goals such as ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all were a few named on the agenda which had a hopeful achievement year of 2030. “To accomplish this,” The United Nations states, “Everyone would have to do their part. Governments, the private sector, civil society, and even ordinary people, like us.” Prior to presenting, participants submitted papers which were read and discussed by the conference committee who sorted papers into panels. Participants were asked to create a PowerPoint presentation to aid them in presenting their papers. Each presenter was allotted 15 minutes to discuss their findings, and took part in a Q&A session after the end of each panel.

Our first panel, chaired by Dr Martin Hedemann-Robinson, was exclusively on environmental issues. Participants from Birkbeck University of London, Coventry University, and Kent discussed their findings on various issues from e-waste to effective legal environmental frameworks and recycling policies in the European Union. Concluding the four presentations in this panel, the audience asked questions, made comments, and provided feedback to their findings. Everyone is affected by the environment and we must ensure we protect her and follow a path of efficient sustainability, which as a race, we have not done in the past.

The second panel of the first day was focused on Human Rights and chaired by Dr Vigneron. This eye-opening panel had participants from the University of East Anglia, Kent (both from our centre in Belgium and our campus in Canterbury), and Queen Mary University. Their presentations ranged from democratic policing to women’s rights. This emotional panel provided light on injustices throughout the world, and how we can all do better. As Nelson Mandela has stated, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

The last panel was  chaired by Dr Celine Tan, and surrounded issues concerning international trade and sustainable development. This informed panel had participants from Kent and Queen Mary’s Institute in Paris. It saw presentations on the reconciliation of large corporations, with wide shareholder bases, and environmental sustainability through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Our last presenter looked at the implementation and implications of the 2030 SDGs in a major international trade centre, the Niger Delta region in Nigeria. The panel was especially insightful for the ways in which trade can aid sustainable development.

The day ended with the prestigious Clive Schmittoff Lecture which was delivered by Dr Tan from the School of Law, Warwick. The Lecture was eloquently delivered, touching on the privatisation of aid through the outsourcing of development. The issues raised picked up on regulatory and accountability problems arising from this shift to private actors from public actors. It was both topical and engaging.

After coffee and tea, the second day was underway beginning with Dr Gbenga Oduntan  chairing the law and development panel. Presentations were on Lex Merchatoria and how it can be applied to commercial space flights, as well as global policymaking and strong Institutions in the Caribbean regarding SDGs. This innovative panel created discussion on how law can be used to develop a sustainable future.

The final panel was chaired by PhD candidate Tristian Webb regarding economic and social change. The two participants were from Birkbeck University and Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies. Their topics ranged from discussing SDGs on inequality and poverty to private sector activism, such as pro bono in South Africa. The participants engaged the audience and requested feedback on their findings, which led to a discussion on how others would approach their topics.

Concluding the panels, the conference moved towards the final segment, a round table discussion on sustainable development. The questions to be discussed were on single-use plastics, how to empower low socioeconomic groups, how to empower minority groups, and how to balance economic development with sustainable development goals. The ideas of the participants were jotted down and discussed in detail thereafter.

Prize-winning attendees!

The time had come to congratulate the winners and runner-up candidates for internal (Kent Law School) and external papers and presentations. From Kent Law School, Anamika Misra won first place, followed up by Jaime Erasun. Miss Misra wrote and presented on human rights law, titled “The Missing Human in Human Rights Law.” Mr Erasun wrote and presented on inequality and poverty, titled “SDGs: Inequality and Poverty.” For extrernal papers, Mette Grunløse won first place, followed up by Anthony Honorowski Jr, both from Queen Mary University of London. Miss Grumløse wrote and presented on international human rights law, titled “Is International Human Rights Law Structurally Incapable of Advancing the Interests of Women?” Mr. Honorowski wrote and presented  on commercial space law, titled “Space Law & Lex Mercatoria: On the Application to Commercial Space Flights.”

After acknowledging the outstanding participants in the 6th annual Kent Law School Postgraduate Conference, the concluding remarks were made by Osama Aftab Memon. A vital member to the preparation and organizing of the conference, Mr. Memon spoke of the importance of sustainability and development in the future, and how we can each help to make a difference. He concluded by thanking all of those who participated, as well as those who chaired the panels and helped make this conference a success.

Written by Joseph Carr and Lilianne Isebor

The student conference committee with Dr Sophie Vigneron

Starting a Legal Podcast: The KLS Podcast

The KLS (Kent Law School) Podcast is a student led initiative to engage with current legal issues that came into being at the beginning of 2018. With a huge thank you to all those involved in backing, supporting and contributing to the podcast, it is hoped that the podcast set up this year will become a mainstay of student exploration into legal issues. And provide students with an opportunity to engage with leading experts on the topics they cover.

The University of Kent is a great champion of student research and thought, which is shown by this blog and the Kent Law School’s Annual Postgraduate Conference, providing students with the opportunity to present their work. And it is thanks to this mind-set that the podcast was able to apply and receive funding through the Graduate Studies Initiative Fund to enable it to come into fruition.

The Graduate Studies Initiative Fund is a fund available for postgraduate law students at the University of Kent. The purpose of the fund is to enrich the postgraduate student experience at Kent by contributing and facilitating student endeavours through academia. Consequently, when applying for the grant to fund the podcast, the main objective was to create a new medium through which students could enable conversation within the field of critical analysis of the law, through a non-traditional means of discussion. Podcasts allow for a greater, and far reaching appeal to the wider community. Consequently the purpose of the podcast is to enable greater interaction and discussion between academics, students and the general public alike cultivating a discussion on topics, which are not necessarily accessible to all in the regular mediums of academia.

By creating the KLS Podcast, it has enabled students to engage with a new medium for discussing legal issues. Being a part of the KLS Podcast team has cultivated two key areas of personal development, the first being engaging in critical thought and discussion, and the second learning new practical skills. Firstly, it has enabled students to engage with course material and the discussions in class. Focusing on issues of particular interest has enabled students to explore different points of view through interviews and literature, to create an understandable yet engaging discussion. Secondly, it provided students with interviewing and editing skills, which are invaluable in a growing media-centred world and workplace, in addition to, encouraging students understanding of how to provoke discussion as well as considering composition of debates.

So far we have covered the recent university protests over changes to the UCU pension schemes, enabling students and academics alike to understand the key issues and the legal implications involved with the proposed changes. Additionally, we also celebrated the 100th year of women getting the vote in the UK. With future episodes in the pipeline, we hope to see the initiative grow and become a staple of the Postgraduate Kent Law School, with the hope that it continues next year and the years to come.

Post by Kent LLM student Jade Knight

Download the KLS Pod podcasts from Soundcloud

Environmental Due Diligence: The role of environmental law and policy in mergers and acquisitions

Kent Law School’s Environmental Law Seminar Series continued this month with a talk by alumnus Rufus Howard on ‘Environmental Due Diligence’.

Rufus completed his Environmental Law and Policy LLM at Kent in 2004 and is now a leading environment and sustainability professional drawing on 13 years of experience in academia, government and business.

The talk began by focusing on when and how due diligence, the idea of ‘taking care and providing a thorough investigation into a business,’ would be used and carried out, particularly in relation to mergers and acquisitions and project investment financing. The focus was then turned to the different actors involved in carrying out due diligence, for example environmental specialists looking into potential environmental liabilities and the difficulties that can arise from doing this, such as the need for predictive decisions according to international standards and the nature and scope of the problem in question.

Rufus then discussed the global standards that underpin these issues such as the ethics and morals that a business should uphold according to a good environmental standard, not only for their reputation, but also to be able to get financing according to International Finance Corporation performance standards. Rufus discussed these standards in detail and analysed some of the relevant issues such as the idea of them being from a ‘Western perspective’ and what would happen if standards are not adhered to for this reason.

Rufus concluded the talk by giving real life case studies and examples of due diligence work that has been carried out by consultancies and aspects which are focused on when this is done eg ensuring an understanding of what exactly is being acquired and issues of land contamination.

Report by Kent LLM student Amy Marsella. (Organised with colleagues Parinyaporn Papao and Sanparat Tangsajatu.)


The Environmental Law Seminar Series has been designed specifically for students with an interest in the environmental law modules offered within the School’s one-year Master’s in Law programme, the Kent LLM.

Kent LLM students can graduate on either the Environmental Law or International Environmental Law pathway by (i) opting to study at least three (out of six) modules from those associated with the pathway of their choice and by (ii) focusing the topic of their dissertation on their chosen pathway.

More information about environmental law research, events and academics at Kent can be found on the Environmental Law mini-site. More information about studying the Kent LLM (and choosing your pathway) can be found on our postgraduate pages.

An insight into the Kent LLM pathway in Human Rights Law by Kent LLM student (and LLM Ambassador) Faouzia El Soudani

It is already November! Where has all this time gone?

I would like to share my experience (so far) in studying a Master in ‘Human Rights Law’ specialism. The modules that I am currently taking for this winter term are Global Security Law, Critical International Migration and EU Citizenship and Residence Rights (with the clinical option).

Before giving an insight of the quality of the modules, I would like to outline that the University of Kent is huge. I know this by the fact I got lost several times… That is what makes it a great place! You will always be able to find a spot to read in silence and catch up with your seminar work and do extra research. Studying this postgraduate programme is intellectually challenging because I have constantly to engage with critical thought. Critical thought is an essential asset which is now required in any work field. The beauty of doing a specialism is that you study what you love! All my modules raise human rights questions. For instance, in Global Security Law we are having an ongoing debate whether human rights law should be ‘compromised’ when enforcing preemptive security measures against terrorism. I can proudly claim that is one of the most popular modules this year. Aside from the fantastic theoretical approach we are taking, the module convenor is a legal practitioner, therefore we are able to analyse the subject from another angle. On week three we listened to a presentation delivered by an American scholar Kim Lane Scheppele on Skype. The presentation took place during the seminar, and was on the ‘constitutional challenges after the 9/11’. The essence was that constitutional principles are suspended when global entities such as states fight terrorism.

Critical International Migration is taught by a barrister, who then worked in an NGO. What amazes me about this module is the way it analyses the distorted image of migrants that the media has. Moreover, every week we take ‘the lead’ of the seminars by making presentations. I did my presentation with a fellow student who worked in the IMO (International Migration Organisation). This not only reinforced teamwork skills, but it has provided me the opportunity to learn and listen from somebody else’s experience. Presenting in front of the class is a chance to share your ideas but also to boost your confidence and self-esteem. The module EU Citizenship and Residence Rights with the clinical option is a mixture between critical analysis of what ‘citizenship’ means and real-life cases. Every member of the class has a case assigned under the supervision of our module convenor who is a solicitor at Kent Law Clinic.

Studying a postgraduate degree allows you the complete freedom to design your own questions for every module, not only for your final dissertation. I think such as freedom is great, because it makes you rely on your own autonomous thought. Moreover, for any future applicants who dream of an academic career University of Kent is the right place where you can show your thoughts and be published. As you might have gathered, my impressions are extremely positive because I am impressed by the quality of teaching. I hope there will be people who aim to specialise in Human Rights Law because I profoundly believe that matters a great deal in the legal, social, philosophical and political sphere.

Blean Woods: Amid Changing Climate and Attitudes, Where Does Responsibility Lie?

Kent Law School’s Environmental Law Seminar Series continued in November with a talk by RSPB Warden Michael Walter on ‘Blean Woods: Amid Changing Climate and Attitudes, Where Does Responsibility Lie?’

Michael Walter, who studied zoology and botany, with a particular interest in woodlands and monitoring wildlife, spent most of his forty-year career with the RSPB as a warden at Blean Woods.

The first part of the talk reflected on the issues derived from the privatisation of natural habitats. The Victorian solution to the tragedy of the commons has led to many natural habitats being restricted to the general public. This process has gradually led to a different relationship between nature and society, which raises important questions: Can someone own habitat? Who owns the species and ecological processes within a privatised habitat?

The RSPB, as lawful owners of Blean Woods, focus their efforts in conserving the precious biodiversity as well as offering access to the public. But as the public uses of the woods, such as cycling and dog-walking, clash with each other and affect the wildlife, should the RSPB strictly regulate the public use? Does the public conceive them as the rightful owners? Does the RSPB own the Blean’s environment?

The second part of the talk focused on the anthropogenic effects on the wildlife, mainly due to climate change and agriculture. While many species decline, some even disappear, and a few appear, they all have to adapt to an environment of unpredictable ecological patterns. Management is key to ensuring the population of species. However, there is a limit to management as biodiversity is affected by global processes. Thus, while species in Blean Woods decline due to human activities happening elsewhere, such as desertification in Africa, expansion of agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions across the globe, who is ultimately responsible for protecting the wildlife?

In a nutshell, the talk illustrated from the perspective of management of Blean Woods, the contemporary society-environment issues, which raises important questions for law students regarding how to legally approach our shared responsibility for the current threats to natural habitats.

Report by Kent LLM student Salvador Camarón Klarwein (who co-organised the seminar with fellow Kent LLM students Em Veeravatanathikula, and Kanthanat Wee).


The Environmental Law Seminar Series has been designed specifically for students with an interest in the environmental law modules offered within the School’s one-year Master’s in Law programme, the Kent LLM.

Kent LLM students can graduate on either the Environmental Law or International Environmental Law pathway by (i) opting to study at least three (out of six) modules from those associated with the pathway of their choice and by (ii) focusing the topic of their dissertation on their chosen pathway.

More information about environmental law research, events and academics at Kent can be found on the Environmental Law mini-site. More information about studying the Kent LLM (and choosing your pathway) can be found on our postgraduate pages.

Environmental seminar series begins with talk by Law alumnus Dr Emmnauel Osuteye

A new series of environmental law seminars has begun at Kent Law School with a talk by alumnus Dr Emmanuel Osuteye on disaster risk management in countries in Africa.

Dr Osuteye, now working as a Researcher with the Development Planning Unit at University College London, delivered a talk entitled ‘Shifting the Focus from Major Disasters to Everyday Risks: An investigation of risks in informal settlements, with focus on Ghana, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Tanzania and The Gambia.’

In his seminar, Dr Osuteye argued for a shift in the way disasters and risks are defined. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR, categorises a large-scale disaster as: a hazard which has killed at least 30 persons and/or destroyed at least 600 houses. While it is important that large scale disasters are handled and remedied, Dr Osuteye’s current research instead focuses on what can be called ‘everyday risks’ such as crime management, persistent air pollution, waste management, and normal diseases. These are not things that will be found in newspaper headlines, but they are things that people are living with that are causing them harm, every day, especially in informal settlements. Everyday risks often build up over time, and trap the people in informal settlements in cycles of risk accumulation, which it becomes very hard to break out of. It is these widespread conditions of vulnerability that need to be better understood and properly addressed, that are the objective of Dr Ostueye’s research.

His team have been measuring environmental, social and economic risks in informal settlements, and want to encourage policy and community action to address these hazards. The methodology of the project is looking to use the opinions of people to shape policy. This means meeting the local populations and asking about their perception of local threats. Different people will rank different risks in different areas. For example, 186 people rated crime as one of the greatest challenges in an area, while only 51 people mentioned wanting improved access to healthcare. Dr Ousuteye said: ‘This means that in this area we need to do something about crime, rather than expand the healthcare facilities.’ Dr Osuteye said a blanket approach to policy will not work in the case of tackling everyday risks: ‘We need their voices in the form of experiences – and then we need to investigate the policy around those experiences.’

At the moment, many policy changes are left in draft form, or are often slowed down by political interference. However, Dr Osuteye is seeing positive results of the small scale, action focused research in the communities: ‘Going to a big city it’s hard to manifest your argument, but in a smaller community you usually find it easier to get things done, as the invested interest for change is higher.’ The point is to make it clear that big scale policies are not always applicable to smaller communities. The investigation of risks in informal settlements is a way to base policy changes on the opinions and experiences of the local population to break the circle of hazards that they are living in, and thereby effectively improve their situations.

Report by Kent LLM student Saga Rad (who co-organised the seminar with fellow Kent LLM students Suthanya, and Voramon).

The Environmental Law Seminar Series has been designed specifically for students with an interest in the environmental law modules offered within the School’s one-year Master’s in Law programme, the Kent LLM.

Kent LLM students can graduate with a specialism in either Environmental Law or International Environmental Law by (i) opting to study at least three (out of six) modules from those associated with the specialism of their choice and by (ii) focusing the topic of their dissertation on their chosen specialism.

More information about environmental law research, events and academics at Kent can be found on the Environmental Law mini-site. More information about studying the Kent LLM (and choosing your specialism) can be found on our postgraduate pages.


The Environmental Law Seminar Series has been designed specifically for students with an interest in the environmental law modules offered within the School’s one-year Master’s in Law programme, the Kent LLM.

Kent LLM students can graduate with a specialism in either Environmental Law or International Environmental Law by (i) opting to study at least three (out of six) modules from those associated with the specialism of their choice and by (ii) focusing the topic of their dissertation on their chosen specialism.

More information about environmental law research, events and academics at Kent can be found on the Environmental Law mini-site. More information about studying the Kent LLM (and choosing your specialism) can be found on our postgraduate pages.

KENT LAW SCHOOL POSTGRADUATE CONFERENCE 2017: THE ROLE OF LAW IN MEETING CONTEMPORARY GLOBAL CHALLENGES

 

KLSPosterA3Lecture Theatre 2

Eliot College,

University of Kent.

Conference Programme

Monday, 5 June 2017 (DAY 1) 

9:30 – 10:00 Arrival and registration 

10:00 – 10:05 Welcome Address by Professor Toni Williams (Head of Kent Law School) 
10:05 – 10:15 Introduction of Professor Philippe Cullet by Luminita Olteanu (KLS Postgraduate Conference Committee) 
10:15 – 10:45 Keynote by Professor Cullet, SOAS, University of London 

10:45 – 11:00 Q & A Session 

11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee and Networking Break 
11:30 – 12:45 – International Human Rights Panel. Panel Chair: Professor Nick Grief 
1. Benjamin Goh LLM Candidate, University of Kent An affront to humanity? Critique and the claims of human rights 
2. E. Glevey LLM Candidate, Birkbeck, University of London What is the future for a World Court of Human Rights? 
3. Faraz Khan Yousafzai LLM Candidate, University of Kent Humans and terrorists: analyzing the human rights of terrorists in light of Pakistan’s military courts. 
12:45 – 13:15 Lunch Break 

Eliot LT2 Foyer 

13:15 – 14:30 – Transnational and International Criminal Law Panel. Panel Chair: Dr. Emily Haslam 
4. Aslihan Sagun LLM Candidate, University of Reading Transnational organized crime and the fight against this global challenge through law 
5. Patryk Gacka LLM Candidate, University of Warsaw Where to draw the semantic line between victims and perpetrators? Some reflections on the  Dominic Ongwen’s trials before the ICC
6. Mao Xiao LLM Candidate, University College London Lessons from the Tokyo Military Tribunal in prosecuting crimes of aggression: focusing on the principle of legality 
14:30 – 15:45 – Globalization Panel. Panel Chair: Professor Iain Ramsay 
7. Saad Almohammed Ph.D Researcher, Queens University Belfast Convergence foreign investment policies: what an emerging economy can learn from the US and UK 
8. Christelle Chidiac LLM Candidate, University of Kent The problems related to gender and economics internationally from a socio-legal as well as feminist perspective 
9. Lizzette Robleto de Howarth LLM Candidate, Birkbeck, University of London Are constitutions still relevant in the context of globalization? 
16:00 – 16:10 Remarks and Introduction of Professor Fiona Macmillan by Dr. José Bellido 

16:10 – 18:00 Annual Clive Schmitthoff Memorial Lecture by Professor Fiona Macmillan, Birkbeck, University of London 

Title: International Economic Law: Between Colonialism and Hyper-capitalism 

 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017 (DAY 2) 
9:15 – 10:30 Terrorism and International Law Panel. Panel Chair: Dr. Sara Kendall 
1. Mahmudul Hasan University of Development Alternative (UODA) (Dhaka, Bangladesh) Extra-legal factors are disregarded in international law that influence terrorism 
2. Claudia Candelmo

Valentina Nardone

Ph.D Researcher, Sapienza, University of Rome

Ph.D Researcher, Sapienza, University of Rome

Digital counter-terrorism strategies: when the net helps prevent tragedies 
10:30 – 10:45: Coffee Break 
10:45 – 12:00 Human Rights Panel. Panel Chair: Dr. Gavin Sullivan 
3. Taffney Clark-Piper LLM Candidate, University of Kent Is international and domestic human rights protecting privacy whilst governments introduce laws to combat terrorism when they Introduce invasive laws such as the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (Snooper’s Charter)? 
4. Tommy Chadwick LLM Candidate, Canterbury Christchurch University The legality of surveillance in the shadow of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 
12:00 – 13:15: Human Rights and Access to Justice Panel. Panel Chair: Dr Nicola Barker 
5. Zhang Tianze LLM Candidate, University College London Can the justice be reached with the profit? On the discussion of the third-party funding promoting access to justice. 
6. Devarshi Sen Deka LLM Candidate, University of Kent Clarifying international human rights law: case study of (UNDRIP & ‘Right to Development’) in the lives of the “originals”, India 
7. Işın Hazal LLM Candidate, University of Kent Cruel times queer ideas: how to become human as a queer person? 
13:15 – 14:00 Lunch Break 
14:00 – 15:30 Environmental Law and Interdisciplinary Studies Panel. Panel Chair: Professor Bill Howarth 
8. Kayode Adewale Ademola LLM Candidate, University of Kent An examination of international legal context on wastes management in developing nations. 
9. Tom Southern and

Alessandro Lanuto

LLM Birkbeck, University of London and

University College London

How is domestic law affected by the impacts of diaspora movements? 
10. Simon Malih LLM Candidate, University of Kent Transboundary movement of hazardous wastes: implications of dumping of wastes in sub-Saharan Africa 
15:30 – 16:00 

Announcement of the prizes: Dr Sinéad Ring 

Closing Remarks: Isdore Ozuo (KLS Postgraduate Conference Committee) 

And it came to pass: A reflection on the CeCIL Annual Graduate Conference 2017.

One of the highlights of this year’s Centre for Critical International Law (CeCIL) programme at Kent Law School was the graduate workshop which took place on Friday, 24 March 2017 at the new Wigoder law building. The workshop which captured the theme for 2016/17 academic session – ‘Vulnerability and Resilience’ witnessed presentations from PhD and LLM students. Notably, postgraduate students from the Brussels School of International Studies participated in the event for the first time. Professor Vasuki Nesiah of New York University who delivered the CeCIL annual lecture on 23 March 2017 was there to comment and provide feedback on the research papers by the students.

The first session was chaired by Dr Emily Haslam and it started off with the ‘Vulnerable Absent Subjects of International Law’ whereby the presenter, Faraz Khan made a case for an advanced recognition of water and animals in international law. For him, ‘water gives life’ to its immediate environs and should be protected at all cost. This incisive discourse on object-subject dialectic in international law was followed by the work of Dervashi Sen Deka which he titled ‘Understanding Vulnerability and Resilience from the lens of India’s Supreme Court.’ The paper engaged with the jurisprudence emanating from the apex court in India on the rights accruing to women, here seen as the most vulnerable in India, for violations and abuses suffered in the workplace and elsewhere. Interestingly, the Court, as the work noted, has gone ahead of the legislative arm of government to advance the protection of women by employing various international treaties and declarations. The last presentation brought another ingenious and penetrating dimension to the issue of water in international law. Here, Mia Tamarin tackled the political economy of water with the title ‘Vulnerability and Resilience in International Water Resource Sharing’.

Dr. Jastine Barrett headed the second session which commenced at 11:45am with a presentation by Liv Moe. In her work, Liv dealt with the strategic motivation behind violence against civilians in conflicts. The work noted the many theories for why rebel groups use violence against civilians and attempted to extend these theories to include the motivation for government violence in the context of the conflict in Sri Lanka. Hannah Gauss, the second presenter, took up a rather challenging task under International Humanitarian Law on the classification of the Syrian conflict and the weapons sanctioned by  jus in bello. The paper opted for International Armed Conflict (IAC) and arrived at a considered position that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in Syria. This paper was followed by the classic and impressive work of Benjamin Goh on ‘Between Law and Iconoclasm: The Al Mahdi Palindrome’. The research, adopting the methods peculiar to Law and Humanities scholars, offered a powerful critique of the 2016 decision of the International Criminal Court in the Prosecutor v Al Mahdi. The paper implicated the Court in the unbalanced and unsatisfactory narrative observable in criminal law jurisprudence, especially, when a guilty plea is made.

The last session had four presenters and was chaired by Dr. Luis Eslava. The first delivery came from Isdore Ozuo on the judicialization of arms control before the International Court of Justice. The paper examined the failure, or better still, the abdication of judicial responsibility on the part of the ICJ in arms control cases starting with the 1974 Nuclear Test cases to the decision in the Marshall Islands cases. The work, by noting the compromissory clause in the new Arms Trade Treaty, ended with a narrative of hope in the quest by states to involve the ICJ in arms regulation. This was followed by another interesting work on a contemporary issue by Roberto Scrivano. He examined the applicability of the law of war in cyber warfare and raised several legal questions surrounding cyber warfare. The third and last presentation came from Eric Loefflad and Peter Boyle respectively. Whilst Eric thoroughly engaged with the doctrine of effective control and why it matters under international law, Peter, on the other hand, advanced the course of NGOs in investor-state arbitration under the title ‘Supping with the devil- Could NGOs better further their objectives by using rather than protesting the investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism?’ After much comments and feedback from the Kent Law School community, the workshop came to a close around 4 pm.

The CeCIL workshop was enriching in all ramification. First timers, like the present author, savoured the experience of presenting at a workshop and benefitted greatly from the responses and questions posed by the audience on their research. The joy of being listened to, coupled with the exchange of knowledge and ideas at the workshop left all participants happy and satisfied. Indeed, there was a quantum leap in our understanding of the theme of the workshop – vulnerability and resilience in particular, and the practice of international law in general. The posers and issues raised by the various research papers would continue to agitate the mind of all those present at the event. It was a great step for aspiring academics and a boost to the students especially those at the Masters level.

The very last remark came from Dr Luis when he said: ‘Thank you all for coming, see you next year.’ And the author wondered, who knows the theme that would be addressed by CeCIL next year? Who knows those that would be privileged to present their work then? As these thoughts linger, one thing is certain; CeCIL graduate workshop which started in 2015 has come to stay and it will continue to groom practitioners and academics in the field of international law.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                              – Isdore Ozuo

 

Photo credits: H. Gauss

CeCIL Annual Lecture and Workshop (2017)

 

In this year’s CeCIL Annual Lecture Professor Vasuki Nesiah (New York University) delivered a fascinating talk entitled ‘Reparations: The Jagged Time of Catastrophe’ that perfectly encapsulated this year’s theme of ‘vulnerability and resistance.’ In this lecture Vasuki explored the possible link between reparations in two different, and typically divergent, capacities. On the one hand, there are questions of reparations for historical injustices including slavery and colonialism. On the other hand, there is the understanding of reparations as they exist within the international human rights regime. In locating a site that demonstrates such a link, Vasuki turns our attention to the violent British suppression of the Mau Mau uprising in 1950s/60s colonial Kenya and the recent litigation of these events brought in the UK court system. Here it was shown how allowing the claims of the Mau Mau survivors to proceed required a tremendous degree of legal innovation to link the actions of formally abolished colonial authorities and the discretion of the currently existing British state.

 

In making this link, Vasuki highlighted the phenomenon of ‘joint criminal enterprise’ whereby the actions and responsibilities of the colonial government and the current UK government are connected not by the existence of a continuance legal system, but by a common purpose. For Vasuki, this ability to link parallel timelines has vast critical potential in expanding the scope of what should be appropriately considered when thinking about reparations as a legal right. Such a method offers a alternative to the dominant view of transitional justice as the singular and conclusive settling of accounts in a linear capacity. This talk was followed by an in-depth discussion and it is safe to conclude that those of us within the Kent Law School community who work on issues of structural violence, historical injustice, and claims for redress have found much enduring inspiration in hearing about Vasuki’s cutting edge-work.

 

The conversation on vulnerability and resistance in international law continued into the next day with the CeCIL annual workshop where Kent students were showcased their work. Here many fascinating presentations were given on a broad array of subjects from an equally broad array of perspectives and methodology. Amongst the topics discussed were international legal personality, arms control, the expanding role of NGOs, cyber warfare, the relationship between cultural heritage and international criminal law, the liability of the Assad regime for war crimes, and much, much more. Additionally, the workshop was greatly enriched by students from the Brussels School of International Studies. This allowed for a excellent interaction between the members of Kent’s various campuses. Furthermore, all student presentations prompted interesting conversations and our honoured visitor Vasuki was extraordinarily generous in providing feedback. While we look forward to many excellent CeCIL years to come, this year will be a particular difficult act to follow.

 

Eric Loefflad

Before Easter: Encountering the Impersonal

A POST BY BENJAMIN GOH (LLM STUDENT in LAW AND THE HUMANITIES, 2016-2017)

 

Last Sunday saw the forcible removal of a passenger aboard a United Airlines flight who had refused the airline’s offer to take his seat for one of its employees. Putatively a lawful exercise of the airline’s rights, the violent extraction culminated in the (now ‘viral’) scene of a security officer dragging the man down the aisle as if he were an unclaimed cadaver. The dragging of the inert body, later confirmed to be that of a doctor of Vietnamese descent, terrorised the remaining passengers and, belatedly, the remote viewers.

In ‘Two Versions of the Imaginary’ (1951), Maurice Blanchot suggests that the uncanny image of the cadaver terrifies us because of a certain self-resemblance: ‘the lamented dead person begins to resemble himself’ (82). The dead body is not the Ideal Imago behind which the ‘I’ conceals its imperfections, discontinuities, and dependencies. Rather, it is the neutral image of the image that recalls the impersonality of the person: the incessant dying which precedes, haunts, and survives the living. Signifying nothing but the absence of signification, the present absence of the cadaver shatters the fascinating mirror image that purports to guarantee the presence of truth in the world: the fantasy of the civilised human with universal rights.

But as troubling as the encounter with the impersonal might be, this rediscovery of the aperture in the imaginary is also that which draws us out of ourselves. The strangeness of the cadaver, in its infinite distance, issues a demand for a response from the living. What does the other want from me?

Of course, the man was not ‘really’ dead. But in a very ‘real’ sense, he was forcibly sunk into his image: the image of his image, the impersonal image, which is the image of death. And he and others are perpetually at risk of death in its manifold forms: a risk that risks being screened by the idealising juridical myths (‘dignity’, ‘equality’, ‘humanity’) into which we escape, in spite of all the exceptional spaces of law. If it is legally possible for each of us today to be the cadaver dragged across the aisle, what does it say about our law and its founding myths? Is the juridical language of human rights adequate to advance its claims? Is there no ‘outside’ in which to locate an alternative language to perform one’s responsibility for the other?

For those who have asked, these are some of the questions the law and humanities pathway has urged me to ask.

Key references:
2. Maurice Blanchot, ‘Two Versions of the Imaginary’ in The Gaze of Orpheus and Other Literary Essays (Station Hill Press 1981).