Write On! Fletcher Forum of World Affairs Call for Submissions

The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs is accepting submissions for the Spring 2021 print edition, themed “Critical Intersections in Foreign Policy”.

This edition seeks to understand overlapping concepts of the past, present, and future such as the security-development nexus, the linkage of domestic and international issues, or the symbiosis between human rights and gender. The Forum seeks to bring together a variety of perspectives to reflect on these critical intersections in foreign policy, and how current and future professionals can best understand them.
Articles should be 3,000 – 8,000 words in total, and citations should be formatted as endnotes in accordance with The Chicago Manual of Style. A biography and an abstract to accompany the article are required. Deadline for submissions is March 15, 2021. For more information, reach out to fletcher.forum@gmail.com

Go On! Empirical Methods in Legal Research Lecture: Assessing Women’s Access to Justice

Leiden University announced open registration for a lecture on measuring women’s access to justice in the Empirical Methods in Legal Research series on February 25, 20201 at 11:00AM (CET). This lecture will be given by Teresa Marchiori, a Professor at American University who has worked on women’s access to justice and women’s empowerment with the World Bank and UN Women.

Marchiori will be analyzing the different steps of the justice chain and the barriers women encounter when trying to access justice and how to design and implement measurements tools to provide a clear picture of women’s access to justice in a given context, and to inform policies and enabling legal framework fostering women’s access to justice.

Please click here for more information and to register for the event by February 23, 2021.

A random system? How Norway (fails to) organize health services to rehabilitate torture survivors

Post co-authored with Moa Nyamwathi Lønning, PhD.

In a fresh off the press article in Journal on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Prevention of Torture, Inga Laupstad, Ann Evy Aasnes and ourselves address the provision of rehabilitation services for torture victims in Norway. We engage the topic on three levels: a review of relevant rehabilitation rights and duties, a presentation of the organisation of rehabilitation services in the Norwegian public health care system, and importantly, an evaluation of professional experiences from practice. Our focus is on the plights and rights of migrants who have experienced torture before crossing the Norwegian borders, and is based on qualitative interviews with 46 experts and practitioners across Norway’s four health regions.

We find that the rehabilitation services for torture victims in Norway are fragmented, knowledge is lacking, and the resulting practice highly person dependent.

Background and Norwegian Context

As employees at the Norwegian Red Cross, we started this project in 2019 with a well-founded concern that individuals who have experienced and survived torture before entering Norway don’t receive the rehabilitation that they need and have a right to. Together with the Church City Mission, the Norwegian Red Cross runs two healthcare centres for undocumented migrants in Norway. In contrast to the public health care services, these centres provide health care for undocumented migrants free of charge and with no threshold for treatment. In 2018, 16 percent of the patients at the Oslo centre reported that they had been subjected to torture.

While torture is forbidden in all forms, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), the largest umbrella organisation for centres and programmes for torture rehabilitation, estimated in 2010 that there were over 400,000 torture victims in the European Union alone. Within Norway, we only have pre-2015 estimates of how many individuals live with the experience and consequences of torture, at 35,000. We know that the share of torture experiences is particularly high among refugees, and expect the number to be significantly higher today, following the so-called refugee crisis from 2015 onwards.

When examining the rights and duties for rehabilitation in a Norwegian legal context, different international human rights treaties are relevant. One of these is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ (ICESCR) (1966) Article 12, stating that every state should “recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”. Another is the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’s (1984) Article 14, which states that:

Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.

In Norway, the national health care service is the main provider of rehabilitation services for torture victims. In practice, this implies that those with a right to a general practitioner (GP), must approach their GP and get possible referrals to the specialised health care services from there. It also means that they are liable for a user fee until they have paid the annual maximum fee (NOK 2,460 in 2020) and receive an exemption card. This contrasts with the situation at specialised centres elsewhere that provide services free of charge, for torture victims (for instance, Freedom from Torture in the UK), for traumatised refugees (for instance, Dignity in Denmark) and for persons with a refugee background more broadly (for instance, the Red Cross in Sweden).

Despite the system, not because of it

Some of the professionals we interviewed for this study have employers who see the value of their dedication and allow them the necessary time and resources to respond to patients’ complex trauma. Alarmingly, however, many of the 46 Norwegian experts we interviewed, do what they consider their professional duty and moral responsibility towards patients with torture experiences despite the work conditions and frameworks provided by the Norwegian public health care system, not because of it. Several competent professionals stretch far beyond their roles and pay rolls to address the needs of torture victims they meet in their professional capacity. Rather than shying away from a task too tall to handle, they have developed skills and expertise through perseverance, personal initiatives, international networks, and profound dedication in order to help those who have trusted them with their experiences. Overall, we find that torture victims with a refugee background in Norway are far from ensured a satisfactory rehabilitation service.

Fragmented services

Firstly, services are fragmented. There is a general lack of coordination and inclusion of actors that would contribute towards a satisfactory and comprehensive rehabilitation process. As one of the psychologists we interviewed about the organization of services put it: “The so-called Norwegian model [is not] a model. The Norwegian system is a random system.”

Lack of knowledge

Secondly, there is insufficient knowledge about torture and torture injuries among service providers. Relevant services are characterized by insufficient knowledge about ‘torture’ as a topic, and unfamiliarity with international protocols for identification, examination, and rehabilitation – as encapsulated in the Istanbul Protocol. The challenge of identification is illustrated in this quote by a psychologist we interviewed:

Many of my patients were very much in doubt whether I could bear to listen to what they had been subjected to […] Would I be able to listen and to carry the burden of knowing about it? If they told me, would I break into pieces? They did not want to expose me to the strain of listening to what they had been subjected to.

If you do not know what to look for, if you don’t provide a safe space for sharing, and do not ask directly, it is not likely that torture injuries are identified or understood. Our mapping of the content of the professional studies for medicine, psychology, and nursing, revealed that students of these professions receive little to no training on the subject. Without knowledge about torture injuries, it becomes extremely challenging to undertake good identification – a precondition for rehabilitation to take place at all. As a consequence, identification of torture injuries appears arbitrary.

Person-dependent services

Thirdly, the rehabilitation services that are provided, are person dependent, rather than the result of systematic organization or prioritization from national authorities. This is true at all levels, from identification and documentation to treatment and rehabilitation. Practitioners who strive to ensure local rehabilitation services describe a powerlessness when faced with a system that does not facilitate comprehensive rehabilitation. This is arguably the most challenging aspect of providing help, treatment, and rehabilitation to this group.

Health service illiteracy and inaccessibility

Finally, torture victims with a migrant background experience the same barriers that immigrants in general share in accessing public health, care and welfare services, such as different understandings of health, a lack systemic knowledge and health literacy, in addition to issues related to language, inadequate translation services and incorrect use of translators by service providers.

Recommendations for a better rehabilitation service

In order to secure rehabilitation for torture victims in Norway, the shortcomings of the current rehabilitation ‘model’ needs to be addressed. To this end, we propose the following three measures to ensure minimum standards in rehabilitation services in Norway:

  • The Norwegian authorities should develop a national plan of action on torture rehabilitation to secure a systematic, equal, and comprehensive rehabilitation service to people who have survived torture, the
  • Knowledge about documenting, identifying and rehabilitating torture injuries should be included in relevant educations including, but not limited to, medicine, nursing, physiotherapists, psychologist, occupational therapists, dentists, interpreters, social workers, lawyers, and police. In addition, competence should be strengthened in existent service provisions.
  • Specialised and interdisciplinary competency about torture rehabilitation, as regards all levels of service, should be strengthened and gathered in one or more institutionalised professional groups, teams and networks that coordinate and communicate knowledge to strengthen existent and decentralised services.

Want to read more? The article is available, open access, here – as is the Norwegian Red Cross report produced for a Norwegian audience.

Go On! “Women’s Voices in the International Judiciary” Public Lecture Series

The SNF-funded project “Diversity on the International Bench: Building Legitimacy for International Courts and Tribunals”, led by Professors Neus Torbisco-Casals and Andrew Clapham, is launching a monthly public lecture series on “Women’s Voices in the International Judiciary,” beginning in March.

The series aims to engage the audience in discussing issues of gender and other intersecting forms of discrimination in the path for constructing more inclusive, democratic, and legitimate international judicial institutions. The series will bring the perspectives and experiences of prominent international women judges, members in quasi-judicial bodies and UN special procedures, as well as prosecutors, arbitrators, and national judges with a direct role in applying international law.

The lectures will run from March 2021 until Spring 2022, with the inaugural lecture being delivered by Lady Françoise Tulkens (Former Vice-President of the ECtHR) on March 1, 2021, at 18h30 (GMT +1, or 12:30PM EST) via webinar. Registration is available here.

Confirmed speakers include Ms Irene Khan (UN)Professor Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler (Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler)Ms Catherine Marchi-Uhel (IIIM-Syria), and Dr Navi Pillay (former UN, ICC, and ICTR).

The lectures are open to the broader public, but registration is required for attendance.

Introducing Carrie Eisert

It is our great pleasure to introduce our new IntLawGrrls contributor Carrie Eisert. Carrie is a researcher and advocate working on sexual and reproductive rights, health and gender issues. Currently a Policy Adviser with Amnesty International, she leads work on challenging the unjust criminalization of sexuality and reproduction globally. She wrote Amnesty’s “Criminalizing Pregnancy: Policing Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs in the USA,” and has done advocacy and policy analysis on a range of issues including sex worker rights, abortion, LGBT rights, equality and non-discrimination.
Prior to joining Amnesty as a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow, she was a faculty member for ‘IHP Cities in the 21 st Century: People, Planning, and Politics,’ an international social justice-based education program. She has also served as a lecturer at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs teaching on race and drug policy, medical anthropology and critical perspectives on global health.

She holds a BA with honors in Psychology and Studio Arts from Wesleyan University, and a PhD and MA in the History of Science and Gender and Sexuality Studies from Princeton. Her historical research explored the cultural life of pharmaceuticals including the gendered power dynamics that informed the regulation and design of the birth control pill.

Heartfelt welcome!

The CEDAW Committee’s New General Recommendation on Human Trafficking: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Late last year, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued General Recommendation 38 on trafficking in women and girls in the context of global migration. This was a culmination of a multi-year process, which we in Amnesty International, along with scores of women’s rights and sex worker rights organizations and activists, had engaged closely with.

For many of us, however, the final result was bitterly disappointing. While there are some welcome and inspiring elements to the new general recommendation, it also suffers from a number of missed opportunities and regressive provisions. Worst of all, it has completely disregarded the lived realities and rights of sex workers, a key group of stakeholders who are deeply affected by anti-trafficking policies.

The Good

The general recommendation takes aim at a broad range of root causes of trafficking, particularly the socio-economic injustice it is fueled by, and includes far-reaching steps states must take to tackle the wider structures that leave women at risk. These include gender-based discrimination and patriarchy, structural inequality, lack of decent work, denial of social protection and discrimination in migration policies. In particular, the general recommendation sets out the need to place a labour rights and safe migration approach at the center of States’ efforts to address trafficking.

These calls are particularly important in a context where trafficking is traditionally addressed as an issue of transnational crime or security under international law, to be dealt with by stronger criminal justice approaches, national security measures, and tighter border control. It is an implicit rebuke to popular discourses which blame the deaths of migrants in transit on criminal trafficking gangs, for example, camouflaging the gross inequalities that trigger flight and the restrictive border regimes that push migrants into high-risk circumstances.

The Bad

The general recommendation is, however, still torn between a transformative vision concerned with promoting women and girls’ autonomy and agency, and a narrower approach that sees women as victims and the State as protector. This stops it from reaching its full potential and raises a series of concerns.

As Radhika Coomaraswamy, former UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has stated, by empowering State officials to increase their surveillance of women’s lives, the general recommendation assumes a benign State which does not match the lived realities of all women. Migrant women, sex workers, women of diverse racial origin, LBTI women among others have reason to fear ill-treatment, arrest, detention or deportation from the authorities, and in many cases prefer to remain invisible. This is particularly the case in contexts where irregular entry, same-sex conduct and sex work are criminalized.

More policing without wider legal and policy change, and a multi-faceted approach that puts the needs of rights-holders at the center, still leaves women at risk. Some women may also wish to avoid being “rescued” as this interjects the State into many facets of their lives and may result in unwanted deportation and other adverse outcomes.

Continue reading

Go On! 2021 Global Scholars Academy

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Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.

►  The Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School, in collaboration with The Graduate Institute, Geneva, and supported by The Open Society University Network announced open registration for The 2021 Global Scholars Academy, which will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from August 16 – 20, 2021. The Academy is open by application to scholars working to understand and map the levers of political, economic, cultural and legal authority in the world today. We particularly welcome applications from scholars from the Global South and those working on policy challenges of concern to communities in the Global South. The deadline for applications is April 2, 2021.

Additional information about the 2021 Global Scholars Academy program and application process can be found on the IGLP website.

Write On! Call for Journal Submissions and RMLNLU Extended Deadline

This installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls for submissions to Trade Law and Development journal from the National Law University, Jodhpur, India and an extended deadline for submissions to the RMLNLU Journal on Communication, Media, Entertainment & Technology Law as follows:

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Trade Law and Development, a student-edited journal on international and economic law from the National Law University, Jodhpur, India has announced a call for submissions for Special Issue on “Trade and Technology: Rebooting Global Trade for the Digital Millennium” in the form of Articles, Notes, Comments and Book Reviews. The deadline for submissions to the Vol. 13 No. 1, Winter ’21 issue is March 31, 2021. For more information and submission guidelines, please click here.

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EXTENDED DEADLINE: RMLNLU Journal on Communication, Media, Entertainment & Technology Law announced a call for papers for Volume VIII. The Journal accepts submissions from law students, academics and legal professionals in the form of articles, case note and comments, book reviews or essays. The submissions may be on any contemporary legal issue connected with media law and its allied fields of communications, entertainment and technology. The deadline for submission is  February 16, 2021. For more information see the below image and contact information.

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Go On! EULab Summer School on Labour Migration in the European Union Opportunities

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Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.

►  The EULab Summer School announced a call for application to the Summer School on Labour Migration in the European Union, which will be held in a hybrid format (virtually or in person) July 9 – July 25, 2021, at the Law Department of University of Napoles Federico II. The program will consist of up to 30 postgraduate students in the fields of Law, International Relations and Social Science who intend to develop a solid knowledge on labour migration to Europe from the specific lens of international and EU law. For more details on the program or how to apply, click here.

► The EULab is also hosting a Roundtable on Labour Migration: The Role of Local Authorities in the Social Integration Process of Labour Migrants with Particular Reference to Agricultural, Domestic and Care Workers. The Roundtable will be held on Thursday, July 15, 2021 from 4pm – 6:30pm (CET). The event will be open to the general public and attendees will learn about the practical impact of legislative and policy choices of local authorities on the actual enjoyment of migrant workers’ rights. For more information on the program, click here.

► The EULab invites submissions on trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation for its Young Scholars Workshop, which will be held on July 9, 2021 from 9am – 5pm (CET). The Workshop aims to bring together young researchers under the age of 35 from a variety of backgrounds with the ultimate objective to allow the exchange of research ideas and perspectives, foster a fruitful discussion on crucial aspects of career development with specific reference to interdisciplinary migration studies, and allow an opportunity to discuss both research and career building and development. Insights should be submitted by April 30, 2021 to eulab2020@gmail.com with the subject line “Young Scholars Workshop”. Submitted insights should not exceed 500 words, and should include a description of the research questions and topics analyzed by the prospective participant at the time of the submission. Successful applicants will be informed by May, 15 2021. For more information on the program or application process, click here.

Go On! Speakers Series: Transitional Justice in the USA

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Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.

►  The Center for International Law and Policy announced a speaker series, Transitional Justice in the USA. The first of the five part series, titled Comparative Lessons: What is Transitional Justice and How Has it Worked in Other Countries, will be held on Tuesday, February 23, on Zoom.  For more details on the series, click here.