Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Film screening of "Bamako" on Tue, 18th March

On Tuesday 18th March at 8pm (room C11) we will screen a movie that should be of interest to all of you who care for international economic law and financial institutions, human rights, globalisation and inequalities between the developed and the developing world, particularly Africa.

directed by Abderrahmane Sissako
Cast: Danny Glover, Helene Diarra, William Bourdon
115 minutes, France/Mali (2006)

n the courtyard of a house in Mali’s capital Bamako a trial court has been set up. African civil society spokesmen have taken proceedings against the World Bank and the IMF whom they blame for Africa's woes... Amidst the pleas and the testimonies, life goes on in the courtyard.

Prizes won include:

- BEST PRIZE of the 1st Human Rights Film Festival of Lomé (Togo) 2007

- Council of Europe Film Award (FACE) Istanbul International Film Festival

- JURY'S PRIZE at Carthage Film Festival

“…needs to be seen, argued over and seen again.” (The New York Times)

“ 'Bamako' brilliantly rises to the challenge of presenting a serious discussion of globalization, African debt and the World Bank in a lively, entertaining feature film... (VARIETY)

“…vibrant Malian settings and cast of villagers… the movie takes on a key issue of our time—African debt and the crippling policies of the International Monetary Fund—and magically manages to be critical without feeling at all like a lecture. The issues are mostly explored in a dazzling fictional trial” (Time Out NY)

After the screening we will have some time for a discussion which will be moderated by Paula Herm.

You are welcome to come along!

Friday, March 14, 2008

South African Judge of Appeal in Aberdeen: Update

The LRS has the pleasure to announce that Judge Brand of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa will visit the University of Aberdeen on Friday 02 May. Judge Brand will deliver a talk on the subject of 'South African Contract Law and the Constitution' at 3pm in the Old Senate Room.

Judge Brand holds a BA, an LL.B and an LL.M. from the University of Stellenbosch, and a Drs Juris from Leiden University. He was a practising advocate for fourteen years, before being appointed a Judge in 1992 and a Judge of appeal in 2001 (see here).

We are thankful to Prof David Carey Miller who made this event possible.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Upcoming Presentation

Wednesday 12th March, 5pm - Taylor C16
Brigit Toebes, 'Sex Selection Under International Human Rights Law'


Sex selection, or influencing whether to have a boy or a girl, embraces sex selection before and during pregnancy, as well as infanticide. In my presentation I will discuss the issue of sex selection from an international human rights perspective. I will address the question of whether human rights laws are permissive or prohibitive with regard to sex selection. In relation to this I will discuss some of the ethical views on the matter. India and the UK are used as case studies to illustrate the debate. In both countries sex selection is -roughly speaking- prohibited, but the difference is that, while in India there is widespread practice of ‘son preference’, in the UK reasons for choosing to sex select are mostly because of ‘family balancing’.The key question is whether choosing the sex of one’s child is inherent in the right of reproductive choice, an important principle under international human rights law. I will suggest that international human rights law does not recognise a right to ‘sex selection’. I will point out that international human rights law is generally geared towards prohibiting sex selection based on the assumption that it enhances discrimination of women. On this basis I will put forward the view that a right to choose the sex of one’s child is not an element of women’s ‘right of reproductive choice’, which stipulates a right to choose the number and spacing of one’s children, not the sex.Based on these findings I will argue that international human rights law provides strong legal and moral grounds for prohibiting sex selection, in particular in countries like India where there is extensive practice of sex selection. In countries like the UK, where the current main reason to sex select is for ‘family balancing’, the basis for prohibition under international human rights law is not as strong, yet several reasons can be put forward to nonetheless prohibit the practice.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Water Cure/ Water Boarding

In last week’s New Yorker Magazine Paul Kramer has a very interesting article on how the use of torture techniques simulating drowning were used by the US military as early on as in the war against The Philippine Republic from 1899-1902. Kramer describes how the method known as “water cure” was used to obtain information from Filipinos siding with the revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo and refers to letters written by American servicemen depicting the use of “water cure”. One such letter reads: “Lay them on their backs, a man standing on each hand and each foot, then put a round stick in the mouth and pour a pail of water in the mouth and nose, and if they don’t give up pour in another pail”. Other testimonies describe how the water that the victim has inadvertently swallowed is then forcefully squeezed out of him again by pressing a foot against his stomach. The short article is grim reading and a bleak reminder that the current use of water boarding to obtain information is not a new phenomenon. Although the stance towards the use of “water cure” by then President Theodore Roosevelt, according to the article, would appear ambiguous, it may have served as inspiration for the current Bush administration’s utilitarian approach to water boarding. Roosevelt is in the article cited as implying that “the United States was, in fact, dissolving “cruelty” in the form of Aguionaldo’s regime”. “Our armies do more than bring peace, do more than bring order [….] they bring freedom”. Does it sound familiar?

You can read the article here.

Rule of Law

Over on his Legal Theory Blog Professor Lawrence Solum, of the University of Illinois, has a very good and interesting post on the meaning of the “Rule of Law”. Prof. Solum points out that most law students come across references to the Rule of Law at some point in their studies but that little time is actually spend on finding out what the meaning of the Rule of Law really is. Prof. Solum makes use of the theories and ideas in relation to the Rule of Law by A.V. Dicey and John Rawls while adding an extra layer to Rawls’ theory by including restrictions on Government actions. The post is worth reading as is the blog in general.