Fossil Fuel Divestment: Not Whether But When

FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT: NOT WHETHER BUT WHEN

by Tim Hayward

[Re-blogged from the Just World Institute’s blog.]

Divestment from fossil fuels is the focus of a campaign among students and other civil society groups that is gathering momentum – and faster, it seems, even than previous campaigns that targeted apartheid, tobacco and arms manufacturers.  Universities are among the institutions to come under particular pressure to withdraw their investments in funds that yield profits directly from fossil fuel exploitation.  But should they do so?

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Reflections on Edinburgh Peace Initiative Conference

On October 19-20 the Edinburgh Peace Initiative hosted its second annual conference, with support from the Global Justice Academy. Below, Kasia Musur, Conference Rapporteur and Edinburgh student on the MSc Global Crime, Justice and Security, gives her reflections on the event.

epivoicesinconfbanner

The weekend of the 19th and the 20th of October brought on exciting opportunities for individuals and organisations concerned with human rights, global justice and peace, as Edinburgh hosted the Global Citizenship Commission and the Edinburgh Peace Initiative’s Voices in Conflict: Rights, Realism and Moral Outrage conference.

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Lampedusa: Immigration Policy and the Death of Migrants

A guest blog from Katy Long, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh.

 

The counsul banged the table and said,

“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:

But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Refugee Blues, W.H.Auden

It is easy to be outraged at the injustices suffered by refugees at the hands of their tormentors – arbitrary arrest; torture; forced conscription; rape. Horrors unimaginable in our cosseted lives bring easy waves of sympathy – but too little self-reflection.   The drowning of 359 migrants off Lampedusa’s shores on 3 October should shatter our complacency: not because it is a shocking tragedy, but because it is a cruelly predictable one.

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University of Edinburgh Discontinues Investment in Company Manufacturing US Drone Components

An article in the Guardian newspaper on Sunday reports that the University of Edinburgh has ended its £1.2m investment in Ultra Electronics, a defence company based in England which manufactures components for US drones, on the basis that the investment is not ‘socially responsible’.

US drone

The report states that the decision was made following a campaign by the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA), the student environmental group People and Planet and the human rights charity Reprieve. Ultra Electronics makes navigation controls for the US fleet of Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, the use of which in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia has been criticised as violating international law. The report also notes that the University of Edinburgh was the first university in Europe to sign up to the UN principles of responsible investment.

The full article is available on the Guardian website

Global Citizenship Workshop

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A Workshop on Global Citizenship

Global Citizenship two

Johanna Holtan, EUSA Global

 

It seems everyone is talking about global citizenship these days.  From education to activism – we know this plays an important role in the lives of our students and their Global Citizensip three

impact on the world, but we needed to know and learn and ask more.  How is global citizenship relevant to our students, EUSA, the greater University community, and beyond?  What does it even mean? What’s our role in developing globally just student leaders?

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Identity and Belonging A Workshop

 

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Identity and Belonging  

Identity and Belonging

The Edinburgh University Law School; the Global Justice Academy; the Finnish research group Family Law and Personal Life;and the Finnish Graduate School Law in a Changing World co-organized an intriguing and inspiring workshop on identity and belonging at the Old College, in the dignified atmosphere of the Raeburn Room, on Thursday and Friday 16-17 May. The presentations in the workshop all addressed, in one or another, combinations or intersections of legal subjectivity, issues of minority citizenship, marginalized identities and belonging. They challenged the constructions of normality and subjectivity in the law from various perspectives, such as queer and gender aspects, perspectives to vulnerable or incapable groups, and approaches focusing on care and caring activities.

 

The workshop was opened by the convenors with warm words of welcome by Professor Anne Griffiths (Edinburgh University, Law School) and some remarks concerning the practical issues by Doctoral Candidate Sanna Mustasaari (Helsinki University, Law Faculty), followed by a cosy round of introductions. The first speaker, Professor Jennifer Corrin (The University of Queensland, Australia), spoke under the title Who is an Islander, elaborating on the definition of islander in the complex legal system of Solomon Islands. The term ‘Islander’ is the principal term used to differentiate between indigenous and non-indigenous members of society in Solomon Islands. Historically, this term has been defined in different ways in legislation. It has also received conflicting interpretation by the courts, particularly in the context of marriage and divorce, as the definition of “Islander” also defines whether the law applicable to a case is customary law of the village and tribe or the State law. The term is of crucial importance, for instance, in deciding which of the three matrimonial regimes is applicable to a case.  

 

In her thought-provoking presentation titled Families, Identity and Belonging: Rethinking Personhood and Property in Botswana Anne Griffiths spoke about the changing attitudes towards family relationships and care in Botswana through a study of inheritance dealing with land transfers. She addressed, for instance, the joint effect of gender and class to the changing position of women in contemporary Botswana. Anne Griffiths’ presentation was followed by Doctoral Candidate Henna Pajulammi (Lapland University, Law Faculty), who spoke about the child’s right to participate, addressing the legal framework of children’s participatory rights, policies and practices in Finland. The first session, as well as sessions 3 and 5, was superbly chaired by Dr Frankie McCarthy (University of Glasgow).

 

The second session, chaired by Anne Griffiths, dealt with gender and representations of sexuality in law. In her interesting presentation, titled Sexual citizenship in post-Yugoslav States: “Europeanization” and changing legal frameworks, Katja Kahlina (Edinburgh University, CITSEE project) assessed the ways in which sexual citizenship has been re-defined in the Yugoslav successor states in the past decade, and reflected critically upon the process of “Europeanization” by examining to what extent the hierarchical distinction between the “civilized” Western Europe and “yet to be civilized” Eastern Europe present in the negotiation process affects the (nationalist) resistance to the rights of sexual minorities. Doctoral Candidate Carolynn Gray’s (Universities of Glasgow and the West of Scotland) presentation, titled The (Gender)Queer in UK Law: Why Current Protections are Insufficient, elegantly addressed the epistemology of sex and gender, asking us how do we define sex and gender, and posing the question of why do we base the system for protecting and acknowledging individuals on gender identity that continues to be based on the binary model of male or female.

 

Doctoral Candidate Pablo Marshall (Glasgow University) opened session 3 with his presentation, titled Criminals’ Disenfranchisement: Genealogical Observations on Political Capacity, that examined the disqualification of various groups of people and different possible justifications of restricting criminals’ right to vote. His presentation interestingly compared elements of political capacity consisting of both cognitive and moral capacity. Pablo’s presentation was followed by Doctoral Candidate Kati Nieminen (Helsinki University, Law Faculty), who in her presentation, titled Rebels without a cause? Conscientious objection and civil disobedience in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, addressed the ways in which the private and public spheres may be manipulated to emphasize certain elements of an objecting act in order construct them as private claims or violent manifestations. Continuing with the themes of restrictions of rights and freedoms both Anna Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen (Helsinki University, Law Faculty) and Dianne Gove (Alzheimer Europe) spoke about challenges related mainly to old age. Anna’s presentation titled Elder law approach to the restriction of freedom discussed the promises of elder law as a relatively new field of law to systematically address the problems experienced by the elderly in relation to the paradox of needing both protection and recognition of autonomy. Dianne’s presentation titled People with dementia and restrictions of freedom took these points to a practical level by introducing the new guidelines of Alzheimer Europe and the important work carried out through this European organization which promotes rights and good care for people with dementia.

 

In the final session of Thursday, brightly chaired by Professor Ann Stewart (Warwick University), Dr Jane Mair (Glasgow University) and Doctoral Candidate Sanna Koulu (Helsinki University, Law Faculty) discussed the complicated issues relating to recognition of care aspects in family relationships and law. In her presentation, titled The Value of Care in Work and Family, Jane addressed the relational and intimate aspects of care and posed the question of whether the progress of formal equality has in reality empowered those members of the family (usually women) who in day-to-day life take the duties of providing other members of the family with care. Sanna’s presentation, titled Doing right by the family? From an ethic of justice to an ethic of care, picked up the theme, asking is there room for an ethic of justice in family law, thus forming a harmonious continuum to end the academic program of the day.

 

The first session of Friday, the second day of our workshop, focused on challenges of cross-border mobility cultural diversity. Opening the day, Doctoral Candidate Katja Karjalainen (Helsinki University, Law Faculty) spoke about the interplay of Hague conventions and EU private international law. In her presentation, titled Foundation of the EU Private International Family Law: Focus on the cross-border protection of incapable adults she asked, for instance, whether the free movement and the parity of citizens are fulfilled when in the case of EU citizens weakened capacities. Dr Magdalena Kmak’s (Helsinki University, Law Faculty) presentation, titled Producing Subjectivity through Confinement: Detention of Asylum Seekers in European Union, widened the theme of cross-border mobility to asylum seekers and third country citizens. Examining the compromise version of the recast of the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down standards for the reception of asylum seekers and Dublin III Regulation, adopted by the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament, she discussed the problems of providing for detention of asylum seekers with open norms that, in fact, enable the use of detention to an even wider group of asylum seekers. Magda also introduced real life examples of asylum seekers who have refused to be seen as powerless victims lacking agency, and thus challenge the prevailing narrative about people in need for international protection.

 

Dr Dorota Anna Gozdecka’s (Helsinki University, Law Faculty) presentation, titled Rights or Responsibility? – Post-Multicultural Europe and Dilemmas of Recognition, brought the discussion back to themes similar to those discussed in relation to care. Approaching these issues from a philosophical angle, she showed how the Levinasian ethics of alterity could, in fact, help us to see beyond the rather limited lens of rights by presuming an a priori responsibility for the Other. Sanna Mustasaari’s presentation titled Citizenship and Family Law in the Era of Cultural Diversity and Transnational Family Networks, presented a relatively optimistic account of the promises of rights, sketching out some building blocks for a new paradigm of the research on the family to be used in the new settings of transnationality and cultural diversity. This revised paradigm would draw on the idea of universalism of rights, as in that there are elements of rights that can be perceived as cross-culturally salient.

 

The last session of the workshop was chaired by Sanna Koulu and addressed new approaches to personal qualities, labour and law.Ann Stewart’s thought-provoking presentation, titled Exploring the legal identity of migrant women body workers in the UK, was based on her published text, a chapter titled Legal Constructions of Body Work, in Wolkowitz et al (eds.): Body/Sex/Work, Palgrave MacMillan (2013). In her presentation she described the contrasting ways in which the ‘sex’ and ‘care’ work are regulated through criminalisation and denial of the status of work. Doctoral Candidate Marjo Ylhäinen (Helsinki University, Law Faculty) touched upon the same theme of difficulties in understanding needs for protection in contemporary ideas of labour law. In her presentation, titled How the object became the subject – autonomous responsibility and labour law, she asserted that the modalities of time and space, through which the identity of controlled worker was born, are now challenged by increase of the value placed on personal capabilities and personality of the worker. She discussed how this new identity of the employee may be met in labour law and what implications it might have to the idea of legal protection of the employee.

 

All of the sessions were followed by vivid and intent discussion, participated also by Nina Miller (Glasgow University) and Dorota Szpakowicz (Edinburgh University) with their sharp and clever questions and comments. Hopefully the inspirational atmosphere and captivating discussions during the workshop will bear collaboration in the future. Many ideas were thrown in the air – to mention one possible site for such cooperation, the Research project Law and the Other http://www.helsinki.fi/law-and-other/index.html , at the University of Helsinki, could suit very well for future research meet-ups on identity and belonging. The researchers in the research group Family Law and Personal Life will also continue to work to arrange a follow-up for our wonderful workshop.

Scottish Child Law Centre Student Advocacy Project

Scottish Child Law Centre Student Advocacy Project

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Scots law assumes that a child over the age of 12 has sufficient capacity to decide whether they wish to express a view in children’s hearings or in court actions which affect them.  In exercising their right to express that view, many children face a number of challenges which, without support and guidance, might deter them from making their views known.

The Student Advocacy Project was established by the School of Law at the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with the Scottish Child Law Centre, to support children who are the subject of a court action or a children’s hearing. The aims of the Project are to:

*    ensure that children caught within either system understand the processes and the issues involved
*    support the children in forming and expressing a view, if that is what they wish to do
*    ensure the children understand what happens when a decision is made
*    assist the children with finding appropriate, independent advice, if necessary

Suitable cases will be referred by the Scottish Child Law Centre to the University’s Pro Bono Coordinator, Rebecca Samaras, and appointments will be arranged for children to meet with trained student advocates, all under the supervision of volunteer child and family law solicitors and University staff.

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Discrimination Against Women in Law

Discrimination Against Women in the Law

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The Global Justice Academy and the Scottish Public Law Group co-hosted a thought provoking and entertaining evening on: ‘Discrimination against women in the law: problems and solutions’ on Friday 22 March 2013 at the Royal College of Physicians.

 

Over 200 women and 60 men braved the icy March blasts, to attend this evening event chaired by Anna Poole, QC.  We were gathered to hear a key note speech delivered by Baroness Hale of Richmond, the only female member of the UK Supreme Court judiciary and the most senior female judge in the history of the UK.  Lady Hale spoke openly and frankly about discrimination in the judiciary and provided a comparative insight into the position of women in the judiciary as well as life as the only female on the Supreme Court bench alongside eleven male brethren.  Lady Hale called for the route to the highest judicial positions across the UK to be more open and for a change to judicial selection procedures which restrict the pool from which the judicial elite are selected.  Lady Hale believes this would afford the opportunity to develop a more equal level of diversity and gender representation across the judiciary in the UK.  Lady Hale observed that most other countries had solved the problem but it was taken for granted in the UK that the only people qualified to become judges in the higher courts were very successful barristers or advocates.

 

Lady Hale was followed by a very engaging, candid and thought provoking speech delivered by Neil Stevenson,  the Director of Professional Support and Representation at the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) (and a graduate of Edinburgh School of Law – who stated at the outset that his current area of work had been inspired by the ‘Gender Justice’ course he had studied as a law undergraduate!).  Neil presented us with some striking statistics and anecdotal evidence of gender issues facing the solicitor branch of the legal profession in Scotland based on work carried out by and on behalf of the LSS.  The evidence ranged from an identified pay gap of an average of £10K per annum in certain ranks of the profession (a pay gap that senior male members of the profession does not believe exists!), the lack of female representation at partner level in firms and a gender division in legal areas where females have been successful in achieving partner level to females’ inhumanity to fellow females working their way up the career ladder and the reality of the impact of flexible working which is poorly managed from a firm service provision perspective.  Neil posed some very challenging questions and asked us to consider: should the issue of gender be reframed to an issue of child care responsibility, suggesting a same sex couple with children as the control group for this?; should we not be discussing the pay gap between genders at the Law Society AGM?; what are we going to do about diversity in the profession now that the intake the profession has swung to nearly 70% female?   With a further full census by the LSS of its members to follow later in 2013 you get the sense that the blue touch paper has been lit and the debate on these issues is very much alive.

 

Laura Dunlop QC spoke candidly and warmly about the position of the Scots Bar and took us on a very interesting historical journey reflecting on female input at the Scots Bar.  From the female pioneer at the Scots Bar, Dame Margaret Kidd in 1923, who became the first woman in the UK and Commonwealth to take silk in 1948, to a discussion of Dame Rose Heilbron the first female to take silk in England.  From the challenges of the obsession by their male counterparts with how women would wear their hair, what they would wear (most definitely not red nail polish!) to where they would change into their court gowns and sit for lunch.  The Scots Bar was for many years an exclusively male institution and continues to pose challenges to many women progressing through it ranks.  (The fact that this event was being held at all was dubbed anecdotally by many male member of the current Scots Bar as a form of feminist rally which is testimony to the sentiments (and enlightenment!) of some existing members of Faculty.)  Laura discussed how solicitors select counsel and the conventional approach by many solicitors expecting a man to act in certain types of case.  Laura also appealed to females to act as role models, provide support and encouragement to each other but also to acknowledge the support they receive from all members across their fields as they progress through the ranks.  Laura believes that a career at the Scots Bar is flexible, family friendly and challenging and clearly enjoys her work there.

 

Closing the contributions for the evening was Professor Rosa Greaves, Head of the School of Law at Glasgow University.   Professor Greaves addressed the academic perspective drawing comparisons from across the UK and also from Scandinavia where she had worked previously based on research she had carried out.  The dearth of females in the senior professorial ranks in some Universities was sobering.  The influence and effect of this on the aspirations of the student and staff bodies they are in contact with is concerning.  Professor Greaves suggested some possible solutions included female academics allowing male ‘peacock’ academics to review and edit their CVs when apply for more senior positions (confessing that she has done this during her career progression) and appointments to office bearer roles in Universities alternating by gender so that roles do not become gender labelled by expectation and convention.  Professor Greaves advised us she has many more.  Professor Greaves provided thought provoking anecdotal evidence of a need for a more confident and assertive female body of academics leaving many of us with much to consider.

 

A healthy and energetic discussion and debate ensued over drinks post these speeches and many of us left pondering this issue and what each of us can do to face and surmount these challenges.

 

Caroline Colliston

Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Professional Legal Studies

School of Law

March 2013

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Innovative Learning: In(justice)agram

Innovative Learning:  In(justice)agram

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Students in innovative learning week, set up Instagram accounts, and used social media to discuss justice and injustice around them.  See the student blog on the experience at:

http://ilwuofe.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/social-media-and-social-justice-with-instagram-elisabeth-peterson/

 

If you want to join in the on-going conversation see: #ILWJustice

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