Speaker Series Spring 2017

‘Resisting the International Criminal Court: Analysing African Anti-impunity Antipreneurialism’
Dr Kurt Mills, University of Glasgow
Tuesday, 7 February, 5-6.30pm
School III

Event summary by our intern Ally Sinjab: In his recent talk, Dr Kurt Mills delivered a novel analytical framework for capturing African ‘antipreneurialism’ towards the anti-impunity norm advanced by the International Criminal Court (ICC). If a norm entrepreneur seeks to change some normative status in an issue area, then a norm antipreneur seeks to preserve the status quo and frustrate entrepreneurial initiatives. Anti-impunity, non-exemption from punishment, is a norm the ICC and state parties to the Rome Statute represent. African antipreneurialism, then, means a resistance to this norm. Resistance takes two forms: (a) tactical resistance involving calls for mass withdrawal from the ICC, or (b) strategic resistance by the invocation of other norms to displace the anti-impunity norm. These include the state sovereignty, anti-imperialism, Afrocentrism and ‘African solutions for African problems’ norms. Both forms of resistance take place in ‘sites of contestation,’ which include the United Nations Security Council and the African Union. However, the codification of norms in treaties, such as anti-impunity in the Rome Statute, does not de facto render them the normative status quo. Rather, adopting a constructivist approach, Dr Mills argued that actors are able to decide when norms apply as to selectively preserve their interests. Dr Mills also cautioned that entrepreneurs and antipreneurs are not pure, self-contained or dichotomous categories. Rather, they are opposites on a continuum of attitudes about, and behaviours towards, norms. Thus, African antipreneurialism towards the anti-impunity norm is not absolute. Rather, it is a resistance to the anti-impunity norm being a prescriptive norm, and an interest in it being a permissive norm. This would enable more discretion on when and how to apply it in African states as to preserve their interests – albeit in a way which may yield some impunity.

 

‘Anarchism and Republicanism’
Professor Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University
Wednesday, 1 March, 5-6.30pm
School I

Event summary by our intern Owen Brown: Professor Ruth Kinna, from Loughborough University, gave a lecture on her current project – reviving the arguments of anarchists against republicanism. Kinna noted authors such as Marx, Proudhon, and Tolstoy, painting a picture of the anti-statist position. Freedom, Kinna advocated, is free from domination. Delving into the project, Kinna argued that it would be a mistake for anarchists to reject constitutionalisation because it ‘stifles normative change,’ regardless of the activity of the social body. The arguments brought forth were clear, and entirely sobering. Kinna noted the arguments of Tolstoy and Proudhon, who were writing at the time of the abolition of slavery in the 19th Century. Proudhon argued that new forms of slavery were taking the place of the traditional form. While the master could no longer send a slave down the cesspool to clean, they could simply pay the unfortunate person who was willing to do it to avoid starvation – a new kind of slavery. In such highly structured contemporary governments and societies, such as those that exist in the Western world, it is often difficult to conceptualize anarchistic forms of governance. Being used to governments enforcing arbitrary laws, spying on citizens, and inflicting judgement from ‘above’ – it is indeed difficult to know how things might be without an ‘above’, a point Kinna made eloquently. However, if freedom means freedom from domination, then it is the only way to have true freedom. The presentation shed light on how anarchistic societies may govern themselves, and more specifically how avoiding constitutionalisation is a fundamental mistake for anarchists who wish to do so.

 

‘Brazil and International Conflict Mediation: Can this Rising Power Innovate?’
Dr Adriana Erthal Abdenur, Igarape Institute and Brazilian National Council for Technological and Scientific Development
Wednesday, 5 April, 5-6:30pm
School I

Event summary by our intern Katarina Rebello: In her recent lecture, Dr Adriana Erthal Abdenur explored the diverse contributions of Brazil in matters of international security and conflict mediation. As a ‘rising power’, Brazil has historically encouraged the development of multi-polarity while equally building legitimacy for its regional and global ambitions through engagement with international conflict resolution and post-conflict development. Dr Abdenur argued that these efforts have primarily unfolded within multilateral institutions like the Union of South American States (UNASUR) and the United Nations. Dr Abdenur also elaborated on Brazilian appeals for systemic change across the international community, promoting peaceful conflict resolution in lieu of military interventionism as well as advocating for broader reform of the United Nations Security Council. Many of these foreign policy objectives have come under increasing pressure from the ongoing economic recession and recent political turbulence in Brazil. Drawing on her extensive fieldwork, Dr Abdenur shared unique insight into the roles that Brazil has played (and has not played) within the ongoing Colombian peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). While Brazil was not a prominent actor in the negotiations of the recent FARC peace agreement, Brazilian officials have expressed their willingness to contribute towards the implementation of the Colombian peace process, specifically advancing the benefits of technical assistance through agriculture and economic development in the region. Dr Abdenur argued that these contributions reflect a broader appreciation for the links between development and security. On this basis, Dr Abdenur contended that Brazil possesses normative power, further referring to the contributions of Burges (2008; 2015) who frames Brazil as a ‘consensual hegemon’. In different ways, this lecture opened up the possibility that Brazil will continue building its capacities for international conflict mediation while at the same time renegotiating the very meaning of ‘interventionism’ in the contemporary world.