Professor Duncan French, Head of Lincoln Law School and Dr Graham Melling, Director of LLM Programmes, have recently returned from Guangzhou, southern China on a visit to a number of partner institutions. During their stay they visited the law schools of South China Normal University (SCNU) and South China University of Technology (SCUT). As well as meeting academics and students to talk about opportunities to study at Lincoln, both Professor French and Dr Melling took a range of classes on aspects of international law. Topics included the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia, the US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the legal implications of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In October 2017 Lincoln Law School hosted the first annual Animal Welfare and International Law Seminar. This was presented jointly by the Regional African Law and Human Security Programme (RALHUS) at the University of the Western Cape, and Lincoln Law School’s Centre for Environmental Law and Justice, and attracted leading scholars from Europe, Australia and Africa.
The increasing recognition of the moral and legal significance of animals has given rise to scholarly discourse on the manner in which law should protect animals. The entanglement of animal interests with transnational issues such as global environmental protection, the transboundary movement of species, and the potential trade consequences of animal welfare measures in the context of comprehensive trade regimes indicate that animal welfare has implications for international law. It is particularly in the field of international wildlife law that the need exists to develop a corpus of rules that focuses on animal welfare.
The seminar sought to determine how international law, in particular international wildlife law, may respond to the increasing recognition of animal interests, and to support a broader and ongoing conversation around the creation of norms of animal welfare in international law. The Law School is already looking forward to building on the event’s success by developing our partnership with RALHUS, and further exploring the connections between animal welfare and ecological law and governance. The next Animal Welfare and International Law Seminar is due to take place in October 2018.
This week Dr Nathan Cooper is in Swakopmund, Namibia, speaking at the annual Waternet Symposium on sustainable water resources and water governance. Nathan’s paper, ‘Using SMART pumps to improve access to water in rural Gambia: Reflections on the importance of theory and fieldwork in achieving SDG 6’ draws on recent fieldwork in The Gambia, trialing ‘MANTIS’ telemetry technology to remotely monitor the performance of water pumps in rural areas.
There is significant potential for such technology to improve reliable access to water for rural communities. But the paper seeks to reflect not only on such potential, but also on the many challenges (including technological, financial, and relational) facing those involved in pioneering new water technologies, as we seek to upscale from proof of concept, towards resilient and sustainable solutions that are adequately embedded in the social, cultural, and legal context of communities, and which consequently, will assist in achieving ‘universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all’ by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal 6).
The emergence of new telemetry technology that can remotely monitor water pumps constitutes a novel and cost-efficient alternative to undertaking regular site visits. Smart pump technology like MANTIS, has been developed specifically to monitor the performance of water pumps and to communicate this information swiftly and cheaply using SMS messages and dashboard display. Led by a UK-based company, MANTIS is being developed and applied with support from universities and NGOs, and in partnership with the Gambian government, Department of Water Resources. This represents an instructive example of the importance of partnerships in seeking to meet development objectives like improved access to water (as emphasized in Sustainable Development Goal 17) but it also illustrates some of the complexities related to working with a broad range of actors.
The paper reports on the technological progress of MANTIS to-date, as well as reflecting on what some of the partners have learned in the process of taking technology from the ‘lab’ to the ‘field’, in order to help direct and inspire similar projects in the future.
Catalonia unilaterally declared independence without the permission of Spain. There is a long and historical debate as to when a region of a country can “secede” and become independent. I won’t enter into that history here but simply note that this situation is very different from the Scottish attempt to become independent through a referendum a few years ago. Then, the referendum was authorised by the UK Parliament and if it had been successful, the UK Parliament would have (likely) not stood in Scotland’s way to become independent.
In this case, everything Catalonia has done has been unilateral and against the express wishes of Spain; its sovereign.
In international law, the so-called principle of self-determination says all peoples have the right to self-determination but ordinarily in the case of a region within a country, that is limited to self-government. There is a debate whether if the country prevents self-government, especially through military force, it might have the right to claim independence. Despite some evidence of Spanish police force at the time of the referendum, there is nothing to substantiate this (yet).
The International Court has been very clear that declarations of independence – of themselves – are not prohibited by international law (Kosovo Advisory Opinion 2010). But whether they result in a successful independent State is another matter. That largely depends on recognition – and in this case, countries such as the US and the UK have been very quick to refuse it.
So is Catalonia a State? Well, in the absence of recognition by any other State and clearly still subject to Spanish control, it is quite difficult to see how the fourth Montevideo criteria of “capacity to enter into legal relations with other States” (ie political independence) has been met.
Could things change? Yes.
Spain might eventually agree to Catalan independence – this is highly unlikely. And once Spain does this, other States will follow.
Catalonia and Spain may enter into a civil war – let’s hope not. But eventually some States may as a result recognise Catalonia.
Spain may act so harshly towards Catalans now that international sympathy begins to emerge for Catalonia as a State – this is sometimes referred to as “remedial secession”; that the only way out for Catalonia is independence. Unlikely in this situation.
Ironically, the best way for Spain to keep Catalonia within Spain is to give it even more autonomy. But will it?
Professor Duncan French, Co-Director of Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law & Justice, has recently been involved in two events establishing a paradigmatic shift in environmental law. First, he attended the inaugural and founding event for the Ecological Law and Governance Association (ELGA) at the University of Siena, Italy. Secondly, he participated via video-link in a global conference based in Montreal between lawyers and economists on the governance challenges of the Anthropocene.
ELGA’s mission is premised on the 2016 “Oslo Manifesto” which recognises that current environmental law is at a crossroads and, on the whole, fails to regulate human activity sufficiently in light of the enormity of impending ecological crises. ELGA thus seeks to promote “ecological law” as a less anthropocentric approach to nature.
The Montreal conference took this idea further, recognising the geological agency of humanity in changing the Earth. Professor French participated in the event, with a particular focus on the role of international dispute settlement in holding States to account as we move towards increasingly seeing the impacts of our shift into he Anthropocene.
Duncan French commented: “it has been truly exciting to contribute to these two events, both of which have explored the limitations of current environmental rules. The Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law & Justice will continue to be involved in these activities, reflecting also its recently work on animal welfare with our Visiting Professor, Professor Werner Scholtz, as well as preparing for welcoming in the New Year of our Marie Curie international fellow, Professor of Environmental Law, Professor Louis Kotze.”