“Science in a Pint” – Professor Duncan French discusses environmental law

As part of the “Science in a Pint” festival, Professor Duncan French spoke at an event in a pub in Southwell, Nottingham where he considered the historical origins of international environmental law, its strengths and weaknesses, and the perennial shadow of the State in finding effective means to tackle some of the most intractable global problems. In particular, he considered three alternatives modes of seeking to ameliorate the traditional “top down” approach of international environmental law, namely (i) the example of the Paris Climate Change Agreement (where States voluntarily sought to improve their national efforts and these were then essentially bundled into a legally binding treaty, with the hope of progressive improvement overtime), (ii) the governance of the deep seabed through an international organisation (admittedly made up of States), and (iii) the evolution of acceptance of same-sex marriage as an example of how cultural-societal shifts can happen domestically and overtime affect national consciousnesses around the world. None are perfect means by which to get around the voluntarism of the State, but do indicate a more nuanced debate around sovereignty and international environmental law. A lively debate then ensued!


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Prof. Hall in the Basque Country Discussing Environmental Crime

Last month, Professor Matthew Hall was in San Sebastian at the Basque Institute of Criminology to give an invited talk to academics, environmental enforcement officers and students on Green Criminology, environmental crime and the impact of environmental crime on victims. Whilst there he took questions and contributed a video to the Institute’s ‘oral history’ project on victimology. Prof. Hall said “It’s a pleasure to be invited to discuss environmental crime and in particular to see that most jurisdictions are presently wrestling with the same question concerning enforcement and regulation of environmental law’. A video of Prof Hall speaking for the oral history project on environmental victimisation can be seen here – https://ehutb.ehu.es/video/5aabb498f82b2b32768b4677 


Excellent Easter Research in Lincoln Law School


Over the Easter break, a number of academics from Lincoln Law School presented their research at high-profile conferences, at home and overseas covering such contemporary challenges as corporate failure, Brexit, regulating the use of force, and environmental issues.

Five colleagues presented at the annual conference of the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA), held this year in Bristol. Dr Ngozi Okoye presented a paper on ‘Beyond Box-Ticking: Company Directors’ Skill Profiles and Creating Effective Corporate Governance’. The paper highlighted limitations in the functioning of nomination committees and argued for enhanced evaluation of directors’ soft skills. Dr Amal Ali presented on ‘The Challenge of Brexit: Highlighting Intersectional Invisibilities’ which critiqued the EU’s and the UK’s anti-discrimination laws. It found that while the EU’s anti-discrimination legislation has generally improved the UK’s equality infrastructure, it is important to acknowledge that both legal systems do little to protect the rights of those in the margins and Dr Ali gave a number of recommendations in order for the UK to improve on this post Brexit.

Max Brookman-Byrne presented his research into the language used by the Ministry of Defence in its public reports of air strikes carried out against ISIS. The paper considered the way that the person targeted is presented within each report and the implicit claims made as to their status under international law. Utilizing a law and literature lens, he explored the narratives that are built up in official documentary support of such strikes. Dr Ali Bohm spoke on ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and Colonialism – asking the right questions or responding to the wrong ones?’ It described the non-communication between mainstream and critical scholars, focusing on R2P as an example.  Work critiquing R2P is often ignored in the pro-R2P literature, especially as scholarship is increasingly defined by the need to show impact and policy change.  The paper considered what role there was for critical approaches to R2P, and the extent to which meaningful debate with R2P advocates was possible.

Ben Hudson (photo attached) showcased his recent policy work on access to higher education for forced migrants in the UK. Ben spoke on the legal and practical challenges that higher education institutions face when seeking to develop and implement Sanctuary initiatives, drawing specifically on the recently published Guiding Principles on Sanctuary Scholars in UK Higher Education that he co-authored with the Helena Kennedy Foundation’s Article 26 project: http://article26.hkf.org.uk/_/uploads/Article_26_-_Guiding_Principles.pdf.

Ben Hudson at SLSA 2018 Conference

Professor Duncan French, Head of School, spoke at the annual colloquium of the Wisconsin International Law Journal, in Madison, Wisconsin. His paper explored the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals and the systemic obstacles in their implementation, noting especially the limited ecocentric underpinnings of the Goals. In discussing the need for the international community to transition to a normative and governance framework better adapted to the environmental challenges of the Anthropocene – recognising the myriad of planetary concerns, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean pollution – the paper proposed a clearer, and more overt, turning to an ecological Rule of Law.

Professor Matthew Hall, the School’s Director of Research remarked that the level of activity over Easter showed a “strong, and increasingly diverse, research profile in the School, reflecting both a broad array of research topics, and engagement across a range of different academic and policy-connected areas.”

Diane Ryland at Panel of Experts Meeting in Luxembourg

Accepting an invitation from the European Court of Auditors, Diane Ryland, senior lecturer in Lincoln Law School, participated as a member of a panel of experts meeting in Luxembourg on 16 March to discuss EU farm animal welfare law and policy.
Celebrating 27 years of researching and teaching EU law, Diane paid her first visits to the Court of Justice of the EU, the European Parliament, the European Court of Auditors and the European Investment Bank. It was evident that the European Project continues to expand, demonstrated in the fourth extension to the CJEU, namely its Golden Tower and in the developments in progress to the European Parliament Buildings.



Climate Change Litigation Workshop

The Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law and Justice recently collaborated with Warwick Law School to host a seminar in Warwick on Climate Change Litigation, with contributions from academics, practitioners and activists. Discussing recent developments in such diverse jurisdictions as Australia, South Africa, The Netherlands, UK, United States, and Norway amongst others, the seminar explored the opportunities, emerging strategies and challenges of climate change litigation.

Professor Duncan French and Professor Louis Kotze, Marie Curie fellow at Lincoln Law School, both contributed papers to the seminar.

Professor French noted that “it was a remarkably informative day – how quickly climate change litigation is being picked up in jurisdictions, challenging States and corporations. There is more to do but there is a lot of encouraging developments”.