Go on! 2020/21 CELI Peace Talks “International Law OUTSIDE THE BOX”

Reading and Reimagining Equality, 20 November 2020

2020/21 CELI Peace Talks “International Law OUTSIDE THE BOX”

Reading and Reimagining Inequality is the first seminar of International Law Outside the Box, the 2020/2021 CELI Peace Talks, the Annual Series of Leicester Law School’s Centre for European Law and Internationalisation. The seminar features a stellar panel of speakers: Professor Gerry Simpson (LSE), Professor Vasuki Nesiah(NYU), Dr Francesca Haig (University of Chester) and Dr Loveday Hodson (University of Leicester). The panel shall discuss the value of literary approaches to international law and social justice, looking at how literature and literary approaches to the world can offer insight into in/equality, including poverty of the (international legal) imagination.

About the CELI Peace Talks:

What is the role of public international law and public international lawyers in contemporary society and across the globe? Is international law “fit for purpose” to address the contemporary challenges to its capacities, authority, ambit, relevance and vision in the 21st century? To many of the worlds’ inhabitants, human and non-human, it seems as if “the “world is on fire” – whether the cause of this impression be inter alia the pandemic, climate change, war, persecution, poverty, fascism, displacement or occupation. In light of the ubiquity of oppression and suffering on the planet, do traditional positivist or black-letter approaches to international law need to be revisited, rethought or refashioned, and if so, to what extent, and to what end(s)? 

This Annual Speakers Series hosted by Centre of European Law and Internationalisation (CELI) at Leicester Law School (UK) explores answers to these pressing questions by thinking about international law “outside the box”. Throughout 2020-2021, we will hold a series of panels of leading scholars and practitioners offering “Outside the Box” thinking about international law. The “Outside The Box” theme will offer innovative ways to rethink and reimagine international law in light of contemporary challenges, including re-examining the actors, practices, sources, institutions, purposes, effectiveness and enforcement of international law. 

The series will host six panels the following salient themes of international legal scholarship and practice: 

1) food, the right to sustenance, and the distribution of resources; 

2) racism, postcolonialism, and the inherent whiteness of mainstream international law; 

3) “inclusion”, “diversity” and the quest for representation; 

4) literature and literary approaches to international law-making; 

5) international relations its interplay with international law; 

6) assassination and the role of violence in the development and maintenance of international law. 

Each panel will be carefully curated and open to questions from the audience. By offering non- orthodox readings and understandings of international legal subjects, issues and approaches based on their experience and scholarship, our speakers will lead the audience outside the often hidden boxes in the field and practice of international law.

Date and time: Friday, 20 November 2020, 18:00-19:30 (GMT)

Venue: Online on Microsoft Teams

The event is free of charge and open to all, but prior registration is required. You will be sent a link to join the event upon registration.

To Book: Please register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reading-and-reimagining-equality-tickets-127030338161

Contact: For further information please email the convenors, Dr Vidya Kumar and Dr Paolo Vargiu.

Award-winning Akayesu documentary to be screened at ASIL Annual Meeting

“The Uncondemned”, an award winning documentary about the first prosecution of rape as a war crime, will be screened at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law on Friday, April 14 at 7:30pm in the Regency Ballroom A of the Capitol Hill Hyatt in Washington, D.C. The world premiere of the film occurred at the United Nations in October.

Several of the lawyers whose work on the case is featured in the documentary will be in attendance for the screening, including Patricia Sellers, then Gender Officer for ICTR and ICTFY, Pierre-Richard Prosper, lead trial attorney in the Akayesu case, and Lisa R. Pruitt, then gender consultant to ICTR. Executive Director Michele Mitchell will also be present for Q&A after the film.

“The Uncondemned” tells the story of the case against Jean-Paul Akayesu, the mayor of Taba commune. Akayesu was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity in 1997. While rape has been “on the books” as a war crime for nearly a century, it had never been prosecuted until this case. The film follows the lawyers and activists working to investigate, indict and convict Akayesu, not only on the basis of killings but also sexual assaults. The even more compelling story of the Rwandan witnesses is a focus of the film as well. Despite being initially skeptical of the United Nations and ICTR, these witnesses ended up coming forward to testify about the atrocities they saw and experienced during the genocide.

Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan observation that “The Uncondemned” is “the story of how history is made in small, at times uncertain, steps” is exemplified by the sexual assault charges eventually brought against Akayesu. Originally, the indictment included only charges based on killing, despite the documentation of sexual assaults by human rights NGOs. During the case, however, evidence of sexual assaults surfaced, leading to suspension of the trial until the matter could be investigated further. In the end, the indictment was amended and Akayesue was convicted not only of killings but also in connection to sexual assaults.

As a UC Davis law student interested in international human rights, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of this inspiring film at my law school a few months ago. As an aspiring lawyer, I found the documentary inspiring and uplifting. Documentaries about the Rwandan genocide tend to be uninspiring and focused on the lack of intervention of the international community. However, “The Uncondemned” tells a different story. It illustrates the extraordinary resilience of and solidarity among the Taba women who witnessed and experienced genocidal atrocities. A New York Times reviewer felt the same about the film, writing that the “most extraordinary are the interviews with the women…their integrity and tenacity, and their loyalty to one another are enough to bring you to tears.”

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Call for Papers: Critical Approaches to Irregular Migration Facilitation: Grounding the Theory and Praxis of Human Smuggling

The facilitation of irregular migration – labelled by the state as migrant, people or human smuggling – has been primarily articulated as a violent, exploitative practice under the control of transnational crime. It has also been tied to often problematic articulations of class, race, gender, informal forms of labour and sex work. Furthermore, the language of crisis, crime, violence and humanitarianism often associated with references to smuggling has reified specific geographic locations and their people as inherently dangerous and in need of surveillance and control. Amid this context, the explosive militarization of border control practices and stricter immigration criminalization policies have been articulated as the only effective measures to fight the alleged spread of smuggling, depicted as a global security threat under the control of networks of vast, dark reach. The migratory flows in the Mediterranean, the Horn and the North of Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, the US Mexico Border and Central and South America; the punitive efforts to control human mobility and the narratives pertaining to transits and their facilitation are clear examples of this approach. More often than not unintended outcomes have ultimately outweighed national security and border protection policy. The vast border and immigration enforcement systems have prompted spiralling financial costs. Attempts to block or contain migration routes have only redirected unauthorized migration flows into more dangerous and remote routes, leading to the injury, death and disappearance of thousands of people on the move. Furthermore, border enforcement has played a role in the very reliance of migrants and refugees on often dubious facilitators of migration services or criminally-organized entities that engage in specific forms of violence.

Amid the panic caused by the overly-simplistic, fear-driven narratives of smuggling and those behind their facilitation, the social, economic, cultural, moral and affective significance of smuggling to and from the perspective of its actors (facilitators, clients, their families and communities) has remained vastly unexplored. To this date, narratives of tragedy, death, graphic violence, and transnational crime have continued to obscure the basic realization that the facilitation of irregular migration is ultimately a response to the lack of channels for legal entry and transit to which so many yet specific few are subjected.

Building on the experience at the European University Institute in Florence in the Spring of 2016, this second edition of the Smuggling Workshop seeks to continue the conversation towards empirically grounded smuggling research, a field often silenced by the onslaught of anecdotal evidence or technocratic-legalistic perspectives concerning the facilitation of irregular migration. This time around the workshop will have a particular focus on collectively building the theory and documenting the praxis of human smuggling, relying on the empirically documented perspectives of its actors. This workshop is a collective effort to comprehend the ways in which migrants, refugees, their families and communities along with those facilitating their transits perceive, talk about, and partake in the phenomenon. The workshop takes place at a critical time in migration studies, when despite the vast abundance of scholarship on the lives of migrants and refugees, grounded empirical work on the processes involving their journeys and the effects and affects in them interwoven is still scant and scattered across the disciplines.

A gathering of innovative and critical voices in smuggling from academic and policy circles, the workshop seeks to consolidate the creation of an interdisciplinary and global collective of professionals engaged in the empirical study of migration facilitation that integrates perspectives from the global north and south. With this goal in mind, we invite abstracts on the theme of irregular migration/human mobility facilitation for an international workshop to be held on April 6, 7 and 8, 2017 at the University of Texas at El Paso. We seek to bring together critical, empirical engagements on the facilitation and brokerage of irregular migration as witnessed locally, regionally and comparatively.

Some themes to consider include theoretical and empirical engagements with:

  1. The political economy of human smuggling/facilitation of irregular migration
  2. Trans-Local/trans-regional/global smuggling practices
  3. Comparative and historical perspectives on smuggling
  4. The converge of migration facilitation with other criminal/ized markets and/or practices
  5. Smuggling, trafficking and “modern day slavery”
  6. Etiology of violence and victimization in smuggling
  7. Philosophical, ethical and moral dimensions of smuggling
  8. Race, class and gender as manifested in smuggling practices and smuggling research
  9. Theory and methods in smuggling research and their implications and critiques
  10. Anti-smuggling law enforcement and prevention campaigns (risks, side-effects and consequences)
  11. Role of stakeholders in anti-people smuggling operations (IOM, UNODC, Frontex, CBP, ICE, etc.)
  12. Global migration governance and domestic law initiatives on anti-people smuggling measures


Building on the experience of the first workshop, selected contributions will be part of a series of proposals for special issues and/or edited collections on the facilitation of irregular migration. We look forward to receiving and considering submissions that encompass the complexity of migration facilitation across and within regions, regimes and time periods, and for selected participants to be engaged in the publication process.


Preference will be given to work that draws on ethnographic research. Please submit a 250-300 word abstract to smugglingworkshop@gmail.com by November 15th, 2016. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by December 1st, 2016. Organizers will provide verification letters for participants requiring visas. Workshop papers are due by March 15th, 2016. Please be advised that as a condition of your acceptance, and given the working, creative and intensively collaborative nature of this second edition of the workshop, all participants must commit to submit their work by the deadline.


The workshop will be held at the University of Texas in El Paso, Texas (USA) from April 6-April 8, 2017.

Questions can be addressed to the organizers, Luigi Achilli at the European University Institute (Luigi.Achilli@eui.edu), Antje Missbach at Monash University (antje.missbach@monash.edu) and Gabriella Sanchez at the University of Texas at El Paso (gesanchez4@utep.edu).

Go On! Cardozo Program in Holocaust & Human Rights Studies Presents Lunchtime Lecture on El Salvador, Film Screening on Sousa Mendes

Carolyn Patty Blum

The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Program in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies has two upcoming events: The first is a lecture entitled “The 25th Anniversary of the Massacre of 6 Jesuits Priests in El Salvador: Why does the search for justice still matter?” with Carolyn Patty Blum, Visiting Clinical Professor of Law and Senior Legal Adviser for the Center for Justice and Accountability. The lecture will take place on Nov 17th at 12noon in Room 1008.

The second event is entitled “Another of the Intransigent Ones: Sousa Mendes, Lawyer, Diplomat and Savior of 30,000 Wartime Refugees.” This film screening and panel discussion will take place on Nov 24th from 6-8pm in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room. The panel discussion will be moderated by James Traub of the New York Times; panelists include: Joan Halperin, Mordecai Paldiel, and Richard Weisberg. 
For more information, please visit the program webpage. To attend these events, please RSVP to cardozophhr@gmail.com