News Archive 2009-2010

Dapo Akande gives evidence to the Chilcot Enquiry on the Iraq War

Dapo Akande is among a group of international lawyers who have submitted evidence to the Chilcot inquiry. They consider that the decison to go to war 'can only be taken by the security council', and the arguments used by the UK government amount to an 'untenable interpretation of the UN charter which would have destabilising effects for the UN collective security system'. The submission was reported in the Guardian newspaper and you can read the article here and the full submisison here.

David Rodin on the Strategic Defence and Security Review

David Rodin considers the forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review and while military capacity is likley to shrink, considers that many of the most feared changes may be desirable, or even necessary, if we are to fulfil some of our most basic moral obligations. You can read the full document here and as published in the Guardian online here.

ICC Issues Warrant of Arrest for Bashir on Charges of Genocide

Dapo Akande writes for the EJIL: Talk! blog on the recent issue of a second arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, in addition to that issued in 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He writes: 'Once again, this decision fails to deal with questions regarding the possible immunity of Bashir' and describes recent statements by the ICC Prosecutor as 'shocking in their inaccuracy'.

The continuing debate can be read here.
International Law and the Responsibility to Protect: Clarifying or Expanding States' Responsibilities?

Jennifer Welsh writes in the journal Global Responsibility to Protect on the nature of the relationship between the responsibility to protect (R2P) and international law and morality.

This finds that international endorsement of R2P has helped to clarify existing obligations in international law, but that intrinsic ambiguities in its articulation currently limit R2P's capacity to entrench new obligations for states to protect strangers. R2P is an example of 'soft law', but can nonetheless exert significant influence on how states interpret their legal obligations and, in the coming decade, it may also help catalyse diplomatic efforts to reform the international architecture for preventing and responding to mass atrocities.

The full article can be read here.

Jennifer Welsh Writes for The Walrus

Jennifer Welsh has recently contributed an article to the Canadian magazine The Walrus on the Nation's record in international affairs: 'Immature Design: Canadian foreign policy has become a mishmash of conflicting priorities and half-baked, underfunded initiatives. Can it be fixed?'

See also

Seth Lazar awarded the American Philosophical Association 2011 Frank Chapman Sharp Memorial Prize

Seth Lazar has been awarded the prestigious American Philosophical Association 2011 Frank Chapman Sharp Memorial Prize for the best unpublished monograph on the philosophy of war and peace. Previous winners include Jeff McMahan, Larry May, Brian Orend, and David Rodin.

You can read more about the Prize here

David Rodin to advise US Army on formal code of Professional Military Ethics

David Rodin has been asked to assist the US Army on the creation of its first formal code of Professional Military Ethics. The code will provide a baseline for training, garrison activities and operations for the more than one million soldiers who serve in the US Army and is being developed under the direction of General Casey, Chief of Staff of the Army.

Dr Rodin is one of four external philosophers and the only non-US citizen to be asked to act as an advisor. The project was formally commenced with a working group at the US Military Academy at West Point on 29-30 November and will proceed with the drafting of a White Paper for dissemination later in the year.

Clearing the Fog of War? paper by Dapo Akande in International and Comparative Law Quarterly

Dapo Akande's paper 'Clearing the Fog of War? The ICRC'S Interpretive Guidance on Direct Participation in Hostilities' was recently published in the journal International and Comparative Law Quarterly ((2010), 59: 180-192 Cambridge University Press).

In this he focusses on a key principle of international humanitarian law but one which is subject to much ambiguity - the immunity of civilians to attack - and asks whether the recent guidance from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helps in clarifying who is a civilian and who is immune in difficult conflict situations.

The full article can be read here.

Can the Pope be arrested in the UK? Dapo Akande in Le Monde
Recent speculation over whether the Pope could be arrested during a visit to the UK has generated great interest in legal and media circles.

Dapo Akande was interviewed in the French newspaper Le Monde in April 2010 where he argued that as the Pope was, in effect, a Head of State this was not possible under international law. You can read the full article here.

This issue was also discussed by the BBC's Wlliam Crawley in his blog Will and Testement (see the full article here).

The original EJIL:Talk! piece by Dapo Akande can be accessed here. EJIL: Talk! is the blog of the European Journal of International Law, edited by Dapo Akande and Nehal Bhuta.

Understanding the Mind in Peace Negotiations
10- Mar-2010

Neurobiology is beginning to generate new and astonishing insights into current conflict prevention and resolution systems. On 10 March 2010, two very different research institutes of the James Martin School joined together to explore this issue. Co-hosted by the Institute for Ethics Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) and The Institute for the Future of the Mind, this seminar examined how neuroscience may be used to facilitate peace negotiations and overcome conflict.

BBC online covered this event, and their article 'Can our brains help us solve conflicts?' can be viewed here.

Speakers Baroness Susan Greenfield (Professor of Pharmacology, Oxford) and Jeremy Lack (Lawyer and Mediator with Etude Altenburger, Switzerland and Quadrant Chambers, London) took an innovative look at the role of the brain in mediation and discussed our understanding of how individuals actually negotiate.

The podcast of this event and blog are available on our events archive pages here.

NEW - the James Martin 21st Century School have published this note as a briefing paper, click here to view.

'Getting our Way in Foreign Policy?' hosted by the McDonald Centre
05- Feb-2010

The McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics and Public Life hosted a colloquiuim on national interest and foreign policy on 5 February, co-sponsored by ELAC and the Royal Institute for International Relations at Chatham House.

The coloquium was Inspired by Sir Christopher Meyer’s book, 'Getting Our Way'. Meyer, who was formerly HM’s Ambassador to the United States, is currently presenting on the topic in a new BBC series. If you missed the broadcast, you can watch the full series online via BBC iPlayer.

The title of the book and TV programme—Getting Our Way—can be seen as one symptom of the current lurch away from liberal idealism back toward realism in foreign policy. The post-invasion woes of Iraq are widely held to have writ large the imprudent and hubristic folly of trying to ‘save the world’ for liberal democracy, and to counsel more modest and self-regarding ambitions in the future. Participants at the McDonald Centre colloquium discussed, in light of this, whether this means an end to an ethical foreign policy. Must the new realism be brutally selfish? Or are we forever fated to bounce back and forth between absolutist Kant and cynical Hobbes, or can national self-interest itself be morally obligatory?

In addition to Meyer, participants included Dr David Rodin from ELAC, other academics from Oxford, Chatham House, the LSE, and St Andrew’s (Nigel Biggar, Paul Cornish, Gwyn Prins, and Nick Rengger), Major General Tim Cross (ret), and Jeremy Hill, former ambassador to Lithuania and Bulgaria, as well as others from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defense. The day’s programme is available here.

'Killing in War' paper by Dr Seth Lazar in Philosophy and Public Affairs
Spring 2010

Dr Seth Lazar has recently had a paper accepted by leading philosophy journal Philosophy and Public Affairs. 'The Responsibility Dilemma for Killing in War: A Review Essay' is an extensive critique of Jeff McMahan's theory of the ethics of killing in war, in particular his recent book. You can download the full article here.

Dr David Rodin writes for BBC Online

Dr David Rodin's article for BBC Online: 'Should we be free to criticise serving soldiers?' is available here.

For many the plan to have a demonstration by an Islamist group attacking the actions of soldiers in Wootton Bassett, where the bodies of servicemen are received, is offensive and should be stopped. But should there be a level of protection for soldiers that trumps freedom of speech?

Disarmament and Future of Trident Symposium held in Oxford

On 20 November ELAC joined with the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin 21st Century School to host a one-day symposium on 'Nuclear Deterrence: Prospects for Disarmament and the Future of Trident'. Introduced by Sir Crispin Tickell and Dr David Rodin, this meeting attracted some of the most high profile participants in the debate on the future of Trident, including leading academics, high ranking military personnel, senior civil servants and government advisors. Discussion focused on the legal and ethical issues involved, in particular how potential opportunities for disarmament can be balanced against countervailing risks and obligations.

The full report on this symposium is available here.

Conference on 'Human Rights, Democracy and Democratization'
11 to 13-Nov-2009

This 2-day Carnegie/Uehiro/Oxford conference at the Carnegie Council in New York aimed to create a forum for ethicists and philosophers, historians and political scientists, and policy makers and practitioners to meet and exchange ideas on human rights and democracy.

Recent experience testifies to the continuing relevance of human rights and democracy to political life in the 21st century. On one hand, the old problem of human rights violations in non-democratic countries emerges and re-emerges in diverse manifestations. On the other hand, the complexity of the relationship between the protection of human rights and the proliferation of democratic ideas and institutions has surfaced in a variety of forms in different contexts. While human rights considerations have been increasingly subordinated to security concerns in democratic countries, some of the results of democratization in non-democratic areas have disappointed, irritated, and surprised political leaders and many observers in liberal democracies - for example, Hamas’ victory in the 2006 election in Gaza and Hezbollah’s success in the 2005 election in Lebanon. Meanwhile, wars and sanctions of various sorts intended to ‘end tyranny and promote democracy’ are in operation, seemingly based on several highly controversial assumptions, including one that human rights and democracy can be forcibly transplanted into a foreign soil.

The conference pursued 3 areas of discussion: (1) to consider ethical and philosophical issues that illuminate the complex conceptual relationship between human rights and democracy; (2) to comparatively examine some concrete historical and contemporary cases where the protection of human rights and the proliferation of democratic ideas and institutions exhibit a pattern of mutual reinforcement and an alternative pattern of reciprocal tension and conflict; and (3) to discuss possible implications of these theoretical and empirical considerations for the public policy arena. You can view the agenda of this conference <<here>>

David Rodin lectures at the Carnegie Council on 'How Rights Move'
Dr David Rodin gave the second annual Carnegie-Uehiro lecture on 11 November 2009 entitled 'How Rights Move: Losing and Acquiring Rights in the International Domain'. This explored the logic which governs how rights may be lost, acquired and transferred - how they 'move'- and examined in particular the implications this has for the way we justify and prosecute war. This lecture took place at the Carnegie Council in New York and the video and audio recordings, as well as the transcript can be accessed online <<here>>.

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