ESIL/PluriCourts Women in International Law Happy Hour

ESIL/PluriCourts Women in International Law Happy Hour

Friday 11 September 2015, from 17:30 to 19:30

Location: Domus Media, Kjerka (University of Oslo)

Professor Cecilia M. Bailliet and Assistant Professor Chiara Giorgetti warmly welcome women interested in studying or practicing International Law to meet women within academia and institutions for networking and discussion of relevant careers at a Happy Hour.

We will also present the GQUAL! Initiative which seeks to promote gender parity in international bodies. At present, women are underrepresented in virtually all international bodies responsible for monitoring and developing international law within the UN and in regional organizations. Women hold only 21% of positions within the main international and regional tribunals. We will exchange ideas on the adoption of standards for best practices and improvement of representation of women.

Finally, we invite you join the blog IntLawGrrls.

Cava, wine, juice, and fruit will be served! We warmly welcome the women participants and speakers at the ESIL Annual Conference 2015 on the Judicialization of International Law: A Mixed Blessing?

We look forward to enjoying conversation with the wonderful group of women participants and speakers at ESIL!

Read On! Starvation as a Weapon – Domestic Policies of Deliberate Starvation as a Means to an End under International Law

The media’s fondness for images of cracked earth and withered crops gives us the impression that famine is caused by forces beyond human control. In reality, however, famines are often strategic, deliberately engineered by governments or their opponents, in a calculated effort to achieve their political ends. When humanitarian aid was blocked in Somalia by the Al-Shabaab rebels, or the fields and forests of certain ethnic groups were targeted in Darfur, the decision to deprive the population of food was political. In the smouldering conflict in Yemen, the biggest problem that civilians face is hunger. Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, just warned last week of deliberate starvation of civilians in Yemen.
But starvation is not just used as a military weapon; it is often deployed for political or economic purposes. In 2002, the president of Zimbabwe implemented a land reform that returned white-owned land to black Zimbabweans. This mass eviction, conducted without appropriate compensation, resulted in mass starvation. In this case, the Zimbabwean government not only deprived people of their livelihoods, but also restricted international food aid, allegedly wielding food supplies as a political weapon against opposition supporters.
A close look at modern famine shows that, in many cases, food scarcity is not the product of coincidence. Instead we see that many famines are side effects of, or the result of a deliberate strategy. There are some who argue persuasively that all famines in the 20th century were resulted from, or were exacerbated by political manoeuvring. War and repressive government policies can play a significant role in famines even when drought or flood are proximate causes. In a world where munitions are expensive, famine is a low-cost method of political coercion, and of waging war. It is a readily available weapon even in the least developed nations. Politicians and military leaders know how to leverage access to food, and can use it to their own benefit. It is an efficient instrument when used to exert pressure and power, in times of war and peace.
How does the framework of international law prevent deliberate starvation as a means of achieving political goals? What duties do the human rights obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil impose on states with respect to famines? And what prohibitions does international humanitarian law offer against deliberate starvation?
The book Starvation as a Weapon considers, within the framework of international law, the legality of using deliberate starvation as a means to an end. The analysis focuses on instances in which deliberate starvation is deployed domestically, i.e. carried out within the state’s own national territory. Domestic starvation policies are often poorly reported and deliberately concealed by the perpetrators. In countries where malnutrition is already widespread, emerging famines often go unnoticed by the international community. Famines are also highly divisive; few affect more that 5-10% of the overall population, so they may be invisible within a state. Famines may even be created in states where food is abundant. Lack of transparency often makes it difficult or impossible to scrutinise the domestic policy behind prevailing food scarcity; for example, they may not be detectible through the media blockade erected by a totalitarian regime.

Introducing Simone Hutter

simone hutterIt’s our great pleasure today to welcome Simone Hutter as an IntLawGrrls contributor.

Simone is a legal analyst who supports ECOFACT’s environmental and social due diligence team with her expertise in human rights. Prior to joining ECOFACT, Simone worked as an assistant for Prof. Oliver Diggelmann at University of Zurich, as an intern at the European Court for Human Rights, and as a clerk at the district court of Zurich. She holds a Master of Law at University of Zurich and completed her Ph.D. in international human rights law as a Visiting Research Fellow in Public International Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and as a fellow for prospective researchers funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

In June, Simone published her book Starvation as a Weapon (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2015), which she will discuss in her first post. Heartfelt welcome!

Visit from LL.M. alumnus sheds light on in-court Congolese child-rights project

kabuyaD3_17aug15A favorite aspect of my new position is becoming acquainted with Georgia Law’s vast global community.

Yesterday was a special treat: We at the law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center received a visit from an alum who is doing great work back home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The alumnus is Mukendi Kabuya, who earned an LL.M. degree here in 2010. He’s now an attorney at Kinshasa’s Delt-August Law Firm, where his practice includes international investment, immigration, and business matters.

Last year, Mukendi co-founded a child-rights nonprofit modeled on the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, where he used to work. CASA Democratic Republic of Congo is based in Kinshasa, but works throughout the country to provide in-court assistance to abused and neglected children – including children who have survived armed conflict and similar violence. This critical effort comes at a critical time: Congo’s juvenile justice system is very young. Before it was established, children found themselves relegated to the adult system.

While here, Mukendi, who is President of the Africa Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association, stopped by the university’s African Studies Institute. And he talked about his work and career with Georgia Law’s newest LL.M. students, who begin classes today. He’s pictured above talking with two just-enrolled students from Nigeria, Gladys Ashiru, at left, and Oluwakemi “Kemi” Kusemiju.

Looking forward to the next visit from this impressive alum.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Trade & Development, Part II

I’m usually skeptical of explanations for continued poverty in the developing world that point to the history of colonialism. Note, I’m not talking about the continued gap in economic development between developed and developing countries. I’m talking about the existence of deep pockets of extreme poverty after decades of political independence.

As we discussed in our recent post, Trade & Development, one pervasive, and corrosive, explanation for the poverty is corruption. Yet, I find this only a partial explanation. How is it possible to look at another human being and deny their right to the basics of life just to make more money?

In the context of Africa, one remnant of colonial rule may remain pertinent in our search for answers.

Colonial powers carved out their territories ignoring existing ethnograpical and cultural realities. The newly independent nations signed treaties in which they agreed to respect these political boundaries handed down to them. Yet, we know that the cultural memory lives on outside of these country borders.

For example: Just six years after political independence, the Muslim Hausas in northern Nigeria seceded and created the Republic of Biafra. A bloody civil war ended with the surrender to Nigeria by Biafra. Fifty years later the separatist movement continues. The religious and cultural tensions which led to the creation of Bangladesh (predominantly Bengali-speaking Muslim), Pakistan (Muslim) and India (Hindu and Sikhs) out of what had been British India survive today in the conflict over Kashmir. In Europe, Yugoslavia’s borders did not survive the death of President Tito. After several wars, it has been replaced by seven (7) countries organized along religious and ethnic lines.

Partition of Africa

Modern-day borders by colonial legacy (royal blue - France; pink - Britain; purple - Portugal; yellow -Belgium; green - Italy; light blue - Germany). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Modern-day borders by colonial legacy (royal blue – France; pink – Britain; purple – Portugal; yellow -Belgium; green – Italy; light blue – Germany). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

At the Berlin Conference (1884-1885), the major colonial powers cut lines across the African interior that grouped together scores and dozens of ethnic groups. These lines also split up existing boundaries.

To use Angola as an example: For over 300 years prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the Bakongo (the Kongo people), had been united under the rule of the Kingdom of Kongo, one of the most important civilizations to emerge in Africa. Today, these several million people live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, and Angola. From the time of its founding by Ne Lukeni Kia Nzinga until its destruction in 1665 by the Portuguese, the Kingdom of Kongo existed as an organized, stable, politically centralized society. Left alone, this Kingdom might well have evolved intrinsically into a modern-day state. This process was interrupted by the partition of its territory among the European colonial powers.

Modern Consequences

Angola’s population today is divided ethnically into three main groups – the Ovimbundu (37% of the population), the Mbundu (25%), and the Bakongo (13%). The remaining 25% include scores of other ethnic groups, both large and small.

The decades-long war fought by Angola for political independence from Portugal reflected these ethnic lines within the country. Three liberation groups simultaneously fought the Portuguese and each other. The Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) is predominantly Mbundu (what used to be the Ndongo Kingdom). União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) is predominantly Ovimbundu (Bailundo Kingdom). Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA) is predominantly Bakongo (Kingdom of Kongo).

The winners were the MPLA, which has ruled Angola since its political independence. Over time, writes Assis Malaquias in Ethnicity and Conflict in Angola: Prospects for Reconciliation, the additional factors present in the liberation struggle – class and ideology — have diminished, leaving intact the ethnic divide. Effectively, the MPLA rules Angola in the interests of the Mbundu people, comprising at best about one-quarter of the population. The resources of the state have become “the property” of the Mbundu, rather than of the citizens of Angola.

In Angola and much of Africa, the arbitrary colonial divisions have “politicized” ethnicity (Assis Malaquias).

As long as this reality remains essentially ignored by the West, the search for solutions to end the corruption that diverts a country’s resources into the hands of a few, and the poverty this practice creates, is likely to remain elusive.

Watch 9th annual IHL Dialogs online

ihldialogsFurther to the recent announcement regarding the International Humanitarian Law Dialogs set for August 31-September 1, 2015, happy to report that many sessions will be available online, as follows:

Robert H. Jackson Center

Please join us digitally if you are unable to make the journey to Chautauqua.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Write On! Call for Papers on Human Rights Protection, Human Rights Public Policies, Democracy and Governance

The International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies has issued a Call for Papers on various topics including Human Rights Protection, Human Rights Public Policies, Democracy and Governance.

IJHRCS initiates and fosters academic dialogue concerning the modern subjects of constitutional law and human rights protection from a global perspective. It provides novel and original material in the fields of current economic and political crises, globalised democratic governance, human rights public policies, the theory and philosophy of rights, comparative constitutional law and the methodology of law. The journal welcomes the submissions of every law researcher and would like to encourage young law researchers especially to submit their recent works on the following topics:

· International constitutional law

· International human rights protection
· Comparative constitutional law
· Constitutional theory and policy
· Theory of rights
· Philosophy of rights
· Globalisation and governance
· Constitutional rights, constitutional freedoms
· Methodology of law
· Constitutional politics
· EU constitutionalisation
· Migration and multiculturalism
· Democratic deficit theory
· Political parties and elections
· Digital participation, e-democracy, e-governance

Information on the IJHRCS as well as guidelines for authors and submissions can be found at:

For information and questions, contact Chief Editor Dr. Christina Akrivopoulou at


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