Previous Events

‘Mobilizing Under Uncertainty in Civil War’
Dr Anastasia Shesterinina (University of Sheffield)
Tuesday, 6 February, 5pm
Arts Lecture Theatre

Event summary by our intern Ronan McLaughlin: Dr. Shesterinina’s talk addressed the question of how ordinary people navigate the uncertainty of war’s outset to arrive at different mobilisation decisions, from fleeing to fighting. In tackling this issue, Dr. Shesterinina presented her findings from over 8 years working on the Abkhaz-Georgia conflict, research which includes data gathered from over 180 in-depth interviews with participants and non-participants in the Abkhaz mobilisation. Dr. Shesterinina began by highlighting some of the common approaches to understanding mobilisation in civil wars. She discussed factors such as socio-economic grievance, security calculations and community norms, and emphasised the particular inadequacy of rational risk assessment approaches which fail to account for the uncertainty and limited information which typically characterise the outbreak of conflict. Returning to her research, Dr Shesterinina then went on to explain her theory of mobilisation under uncertainty, a three-stage approach which focuses on the formation of conflict identities, collective threat framing and the importance of identity during and after conflict. A key theme throughout this talk was the importance of considering mobilisation in historical perspective, often many of the factors which influence the mobilisation decisions of an individual or group have deep foundations which pre-date the onset of war. In addition to Dr Shesterinina’s fascinating lecture, this event was equally successful in terms of audience engagement, with insightful questions and comments ranging from the role of women in mobilisation, to the application of this research to other contexts and conflicts around the world. Overall, a great opportunity for all who attended to engage with a leading academic, and to learn more about important research on an understudied, yet intriguing, area of the world.

 

‘Islamic Statehood and the Origins of Arab Self-Determination (1916-2016)’
Professor Malik R. Dahlan (Quraysh)
Thursday, 30 November, 4pm
Old Class Library, 65 South Street

Event summary by our intern Kathrina Dabdoub: Throughout the last two decades, several pivotal events have shaken the Arab world and caused regional instability, notably the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS. Such phenomena have revealed the current crisis of governance within Islam, incited polarized debate worldwide, and raised questions of how to resolve regional conflict. Professor Malik Dahlan addressed these issues in a recent lecture based on his upcoming book The Hijaz: Integration, Islamic Statehood and the Origins of Self-Determination. Professor Dahlan posits that a reconceptualization of legal and political approaches can give insight into the problems afflicting the Middle East. The core of Prof Dahlan’s thesis is the Hijaz, the geographical region on the coast including Mecca and Medina, which has historically held political and religious significance within the Middle East. Focusing on the diplomatic affairs of the period between World Wars I and II, Prof Dahlan noted that the West acknowledged the political autonomy of the Hijaz as an independent, Islamic state and highlighted its role during the peace conferences of the era. This overview demonstrated that the Hijaz played an important role one hundred years ago when the idea of the nation state was evolving, as it did one thousand years ago during the rise of Islam. Thus, Prof Dahlan proposes an analysis of the nation state and governance through a new lens, one which takes into account Islamic principles and the value of the Hijaz. This idea can be pushed forward, toward the end of political development and regional stability.

 

Roundtable – ‘Biases in International Justice’
Dr Andrea Birdsall (Edinburgh), Dr Adam Bower, Dr Henry Lovat (Glasgow), Prof Kurt Mills (Dundee), Dr Mateja Peter
Wednesday, 22 November, 4pm
School II

 

‘Transitional Justice and Reconciliation: Conceptions and Misconceptions’
Paul Seils, International Centre for Transitional Justice
Wednesday, 27 September, 5pm
Arts Lecture Theatre
Co-sponsored with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

 

‘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 2017, 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.

 

‘Anarchism and Republicanism’
Professor Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University
Wednesday, 1 March 2017, 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.

 

‘Resisting the International Criminal Court: Analysing African Anti-impunity Antipreneurialism’
Dr Kurt Mills, University of Glasgow
Tuesday, 7 February 2017, 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.

 

 

‘Dangerous Trade: Humanitarian Arms Export Governance and International Reputation’
Dr Jennifer Erickson, Boston College
Wednesday, 23 November 2016, 5-6:30pm
School I

Event summary by our intern Rory Weaver: In her fascinating talk entitled Dangerous Trade: Humanitarian Arms Export Governance and International Reputation, Dr Erickson of Boston College highlighted the often underappreciated scale of the international arms trade, and the surprise decision by major arms exporters to sign the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in 2009. Why did these countries suddenly decide to approve a treaty that had the potential to be so costly to a key tool of foreign policy and economic growth? Based on analysis of arms export data and interview with key actors in policy-making and the defence industry, Dr Erickson finds that in the top arms-exporting democracies, public pressure and concern for human rights do not offer adequate reputations explanations for this change. Instead, she offers a convincing explanation that international social– the importance of being seen as a good ‘international citizen’ – was the driving force behind the ATT. Because the appearance of commitment, and not compliance or enforcement, was the overriding concern of signatory states, and because the ATT has no mechanisms for enforcement or punishment, compliance will depend on NGO and public pressure, which has mostly been lacking. Dr Erickson also offered an interesting twist on what is often seen as conventional wisdom – the UK defence industry does not necessarily always get its way in policy decisions, and was caught off-guard by New Labour’s commitment to arms control in the late 1990s. The Obama administration, despite its positive image, continued to export arms in a similar way to its predecessors. Most importantly, her talk highlighted that genuine compliance with a reputation-driven treaty is unlikely in the absence of significant pressure from the public and NGOs.

 

‘The EU and its Member States in Global Governance: Stronger Together?’
Dr Joris Larik, University of Leiden
Wednesday, 2 November 2016, 5-6.30pm
School I

Event summary by our intern Blake Atherton: On Wednesday evening, November 2, Dr. Joris Larik, Assistant Professor of Comparative, EU, and International Law at Leiden University and Senior Researcher at the Hague Institute for Global Justice, presented a lecture for St Andrews and the Centre for Global Constitutionalism. Dr. Larik began by contextualizing the aggregate power, level of interconnectedness, and core legal principles of the European Union. Larik elucidated how, legally, power is shared among disparate member states and how this arrangement may constrain or benefit members depending on context. Dr. Larik then presented two case studies, trade and security, to juxtapose the relative success the EU has enjoyed in the realm of trade (in terms of solidarity) and the relative difficulty it has encountered in the realm of collective defense. In view of these case studies, Dr. Larik turned his attention to the future of the EU in the wake of Brexit and prospects for continued improvement in coordination among member states, emphasizing that a more synchronized and systematic approach to security objectives in the EU is or paramount importance.

 

‘Conceptualizing International Rights to Resist’
Professor Antonio Franceschet, University of Calgary
Wednesday 12 October 2016, 5-6.30pm
School I

 

‘Justice and Reconciliation in International Relations’
Professor Catherine Lu, McGill University, Canada
Monday, 18 April 2016, 5pm Arts Lecture Theatre.
Cosponsored with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

‘Contested Norms in International Encounters: The “Turbot War” as Prelude to Fairer Global Fisheries Governance’
Professor Antje Weiner, University of Hamburg, Germany
Monday, 4 April 2016, 5pm Arts Lecture Theatre

‘Protest and Politicization. Critical Theory in Times of Resistance’
Professor Christian Volk, University of Trier, Germany
Tuesday, 8 March 2016, 5 pm-7pm,
Arts Building, Seminar Room 2