On 14 April 2022, the UK and the Rwandan governments signed an MoU outlining plans for transferring asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. The MoU has been subject to much criticism from academics, NGOs and the UNHCR. Criticism has focussed, first, on the attempts by the UK to divest itself of responsibility for asylum seekers. Second, it has highlighted the potential for further abuses of refugee and human rights law to occur against transferred individuals in Rwanda. The MoU is the latest in a range of mechanisms whereby States in the Global North attempt to externalise their borders and shift responsibility for refugees onto Global South states. (more…)
by Steven Greer, Professor of Human Rights, University of Bristol Law School
Twenty years ago the world witnessed the horrific events of 9/11. A great deal has happened on the counterterrorist front since. For one thing, the term ‘war on terror’, which never had any official traction in the UK anyway, has all but disappeared from the serious debate. Nevertheless, the threat of terrorism, and the struggle against it, persist around the globe. The UK is no stranger to either, at home or abroad. In fact, taking various forms and manifesting in several phases, the British experience has spanned at least a century and a half rather than simply the past two decades. Today, three distinct types of domestic terrorism – dissident Irish republican, far right, and particularly jihadi – predominate. A suite of counterterrorist laws and policies has been deployed to address the challenges they present.(more…)
The UK has adopted the Marrakesh Compact and agreed to implement the objectives which it sets out (see paragraph 41 of the Marrakesh Compact). The UK Government has repeatedly claimed that national policy is not in conflict with the Marrakesh Compact. Alistair Burt’s, Minister for the Middle East, written statement to Parliament on 10 December 2018 acknowledges that the UK is bound by existing human rights obligations, that these rights are owed specifically to migrants and that UK polices are in line with them. More recently, the UK’s 2020 report to the European Regional Review of the Marrakesh Compact, outlined that ‘the GCM is fully integrated into the UK policy architecture… GCM principles are reflected in wider UK migration policy and maintains senior official/ministerial focus on the GCM.’ The UK government consistently claims that UK policy is in line with the obligations in the Marrakesh Compact and that these are in accordance with international legal obligations owed to migrants. (more…)
On 22 April 2021, the University of Bristol Law School hosted a closed meeting on the findings of the Human Rights Committee in A.S., D.I., O.I. and G.D. v Italy. The hosts of the event, Professor Sir Malcolm Evans and Dr Sofia Galani, welcomed academic experts on international human rights law and the law of the sea from UK, European and Australian institutions who reflected on the findings of the Human Rights Committee (the Committee) and discussed the potential impact of its findings on the future of human rights protection at sea. The facts of the complaint, the views of the Committee as well as the dissenting opinions are of great interest and are well worth being read in full. Here, we will only summarise some key points with a view to highlighting the significance of the decision and providing some background into the discussions. (more…)
Prof. Xinyu Wang (China University of Political Science and Law) and He Xiao (a law PhD student at the University of Bristol)
Since October 2020, a “Stop Period Shaming” campaign has been quietly taking place within universities in China. It all started in early 2020, during China’s fight against the COVID-19, with various socially sponsored donations of medical supplies and an extreme shortage of feminine period products. The female doctors and nurses, who made up more than half of the medical team that went to Wuhan, overcame their cycles’ fragility and fought like the male doctors. (more…)
By Dr Lorenzo Cotula, Principal Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development; Honorary Professor at the University of Strathclyde.
As our demand for material goods drives natural resource extraction, the law reconfigures control over resources to facilitate the production of tradable commodities. Faced with profound social transformations, indigenous and agrarian movements have mobilised human rights to reclaim land, resources and development pathways. This recourse to rights provides distinctive insights on the place of human rights in social justice struggles.
Resource control and international economic law (IEL)
The growing levels and expectations of material consumption in the rich world rest on the large-scale production of commodities for food, energy and raw materials. The correlative expansion and intensification of natural resource extraction has historically involved large-scale mining, petroleum, logging and agribusiness developments, but also more indirect forms of resource control, for example through the integration of small-scale producers into commercial value chains. (more…)
Roland Barthes was never particularly interested in the law. Were he alive today, however, it is hard to imagine that he would be a strong supporter of a regime like investment arbitration – a system which, in spite of its best original intentions, has long been exposed by its critics for the lack of balance in rights and obligations and the abuse of the mechanism to increase the already disproportionate power of multinational corporations vis-à-vis the state where they invest. However, his literary production can nonetheless serve as a model for inquiring on aspects of the investment arbitral regime that remain somehow at the margins of the scholarly critique.
In his essay “Writers, Intellectuals, Teachers” (1971), Barthes theorised an imaginary contract between teachers and students, with specific tasks and expectations brought into the contractual relationship by both parties. Barthes’ teachers are neither mere providers of information nor simply the means used by the school to educate students: instead, they are at once erudite, educators, mentors, instructors and tutors. The term magister may be more appropriate to define Barthes’ teachers for they carry the burden to not only instruct on specific tasks, but also to represent schools of thought, and to act as guides, almost gurus, towards enlightenment, knowledge, and skill. They are vested, in other words, with the duty of developing the community they guide; and, rather than self-conferred, it is a duty given to them by such community. (more…)
In 2019, a group of scholars in the discipline of International Economic Law (IEL) launched the IEL Collective to provide a space for critical reflections of the regulation and conduct of states, international organisations and private actors in economic governance within and across state boundaries. International economic law (IEL) as an arena of scholarship, policy and practice has developed exponentially over the past three decades, evolving from a sub-field of public international law into a multi-layered, highly specialised discipline of its own. As a field of study, IEL encompasses a broad range of issues relating to the law, regulation and governance of the global economy, including trade, investment, finance, intellectual property, business regulation, energy and competition law. It is a discipline that intersects with other disciplines, such as international and domestic labour law, human rights, and environment as recognised by the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, in the discipline of IEL there remain significant questions over the plurality and diversity of methodologies, voices and viewpoints. (more…)
According to a recent report by a cross-party group of MPs, ‘Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness’. This definition has, however, been rejected by the government and criticised by others not least on the grounds that, although Islamophobia coincides with racism in certain contexts, this is not always the case. Understanding the differences and similarities between various kinds of social prejudice is important not only for intellectual reasons, but also because a lack of clarity may militate against tackling them effectively.
In the popular sense, ‘race’/‘ethnicity’ involves shared physical identity (particularly skin colour and facial features), plus assumptions about kinship and origins more often imagined than real. Standard components of ‘racism’, typically based on myth, caricature and stereotype, generally include the belief that races possess distinct and inherent characteristics including social practices, the sense that one’s own race is superior to most if not all others, and express or implicit prejudice against people of races apart from one’s own.
‘Islamophobia’ generally refers to irrational antagonism towards Islam and/or Muslims also typically based on myth, caricature and misleading stereotype. Strictly speaking, a ‘phobia’ is a clinically observable anxiety disorder defined by recurrent and excessive fear of an object or situation. The term has, however, been extended to include individual and collective hostility towards minorities such as homosexuals (homophobia), foreigners (xenophobia) and Islam/Muslims (Islamophobia).
Racial and anti-Muslim discrimination can clearly overlap, particularly in England and Wales where over 90% of Muslims are non-white. (more…)
On June 14th 2019, a group of academics, union representatives, civil society organisers, and members of food-related NGOs and think tanks gathered in Bristol along with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Professor Hilal Elver. The intention was to look closely at the condition of work and workers behind the UK food system. Throughout the day, we shared testimonies, experiences and accounts concerning the main challenges and obstacles faced by workers from farm to fork, including beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom. We discussed trafficking, modern slavery, low wages, availability, technological innovation, migration, and several other issues that affect and characterize the life and the future of people who make our food possible. We have closely followed the ongoing conversations around the UK Food Strategy, including a consultation that opened just last week, along with the parliamentary debate around the Agricultural Bill and the proposals on the new post-CAP domestic settlement for agriculture. We have also been particularly attentive to the increase in household food insecurity in the country, in particular among farmworkers, farmers and workers within the food sector. It is striking that hunger, obesity and malnutrition are increasingly felt among those who produce and transform food.
In light of our research, experiences and conversations, we have listed below some of the main conclusions arising from our workshop. There is no food without labour, and because a healthy and justly rewarded workforce is essential to a sustainable food system, we consider that these elements should inform the whole process of the UK food strategy. When it comes to labour, the future of food is not only about a skilled workforce that knows how to use technology. It is about: an integrated approach and greater coordination within the food system; attention to the bottlenecks; a broad notion of food workers; intersectionality; transparency and visibility; protection, respect and fulfilment of the workers’ human and labour rights; access to justice and reliable enforcement; and fair access and use of technological innovation.(more…)