International and European Law Research Seminar 2 April 2014
Dr Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua gave a talk on ‘Contributionism or Twailism: A Critical Review of African Perspectives on International Law’
The presentation was devoted to introducing African perspectives into International Law, which has remained to a large extent predominantly Euro-centric in doctrine, theory and practice.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua provided a critique of two main schools developed by African scholarship in reaction to the European ‘hegemonic’ influence in International Law, namely, Contributionism and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL). The former seeks to reclaim, reconstruct and rehabilitate the neglected and denigrated African past and put it on an even keel with Europe. In so doing it contends that Africans participated in shaping International Law and that their contribution should be thus acknowledged and recognised. The latter, seeks to expose the exploitative side of International Law and present an alternative normative model that pays attention to justice and fairness in order to eradicate conditions of underdevelopment.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua’s critique unravelled a new middle-ground approach, that of recognitionism. This new perspective locates itself within the pre-colonial era to uncover the origins of International Law in Africa and contends that African regions developed notions of primitive International Law within their own limited geographical spaces before contact with Europe and other civilisations.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua concluded by showing how the contributions from Africa and other developing countries are only piecemeal and have mainly come through the United nations system without significantly altering the current International legal order.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua is currently a Marie Curie Fellow at the Centre for Educational Research and Development of the University of Lincoln. He is also Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra. At present he is writing a book entitled Commonwealth African Perspectives on Public International Law.
Professor Duncan French has recently presented his views on the situation in Crimea from the perspective of public international law. Taking part in a seminar on behalf of the International Law Association, Professor French discussed various aspects of the use of force, the principle of non-intervention, unlawful territorial acquisition, State responsibility, and self-determination.
Though believing the present situation to be a clear breach of international law, Professor French highlighted a number of paradoxes in the current law, which had been either highlighted or revealed by the present circumstances. Such paradoxes did not undermine the fundamental illegality but did reflect certain indeterminacy within the present law.
Dr Velluti recently gave a presentation entitled ‘The Evolving Social Dimension of EU External Trade Relations – Some Reflections on Coherence’ at the International Workshop on Fostering Labor Rights in the Global Economy, held at the KU Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies of the University of Leuven on 20 and 21 February 2014 and co-organised together with GRESI, a scientific research community funded by the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) and coordinated by the University of Ghent. The Workshop is part of the large-scale EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) research project on “Fostering Human Rights among European Policies” (FRAME).
The paper provided a critical review of how labour provisions have been incorporated in the European Union’s (EU) international trade agreements and the various goals pursued in combination with the mechanisms employed to achieve them. This analysis is particularly prominent and made necessary by fundamental changes introduced by the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon in relation to the EU’s Common Commercial Policy (CCP) and the increased powers of the European Parliament which now has to give its consent to the ratification of international trade agreements. In examining how the EU has been increasingly inserting human rights clauses and social norms in its international trade agreements with third countries, Dr Velluti explored certain coherence, consistency and legitimacy aspects of the EU’s role as a global human rights actor which directly concern the future trajectory of social and labour rights in EU external trade relations.
Lincoln Law School held two research events in February 2014.
On 5 February 2014, Dr Klaus Beiter, Marie Curie Fellow at CERD, University of Lincoln, gave a presentation on ‘The Protection of the Right to Academic Mobility under International Human Rights Law’. The paper presented some preliminary findings of current research which Dr Beiter is carrying out as part of his postdoc on the topic: “Safeguarding Academic Freedom in Europe”, under the supervision of Professor Terence Karran (CERD, University of Lincoln).
Dr Beiter examined the right to freedom of movement of scholars – conceived as a right to academic mobility – as part of the right to academic freedom. In his presentation he explained how (binding) international human rights law does not accord express protection to this right. Whereas the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Article 19 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights may be relied on to protect a multitude of facets covered by the right to academic freedom, Article 13 of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the right to education may, in fact, be seen to constitute a complete locus for the right to academic freedom.
On 19 February 2014, Professor Louis J. Kotzé from the North-West University in South Africa, gave a talk on sustainable development as a key feature of environmental constitutionalism using South Africa as his main case-study. In his talk, Professor Kotzé examined South Africa’s domestic legal regime to illustrate how certain national legal systems have constitutionally entrenched sustainable development. In particular, in South Africa, sustainable development has been an integral part of the legal order since the advent of democracy and transition to a constitutional state in 1994. The country included an environmental right in its own Constitution of 1996 and adopted a comprehensive body of environmental legislation to give effect to this right’s broader policies and constitutional objectives. Professor Kotzé illustrated how by means of this entrenchment, sustainable development has become a constitutional issue or concern in the country and may play, therefore, an important role in promoting a rule of law approach in South Africa.
Professor Duncan French recently presented at an ESRC-supported workshop on environmental regulation at the University of Sheffield, Centre for Criminological Research.
Exploring the idea of the use of criminal law to support international environmental obligations, Professor French questioned the assumption that criminalising harm is a panacea in all situations. While there may be many valid situations for the use of criminal law, criminal sanctions at the international level are no replacement for an effective framework of regulation.
Thus, Professor French wondered as to the viability of the current discussion on ecocide as a new crime in international law. Instead, attention should continue to be paid to make the current law we have better.