Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, in association with the Weera Centre, is organising a lecture series on ‘Alternative Approaches to International Law’. Starting in October 2020, there will be one lecture every month, for one year.
The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly resetting the international development agenda. There is an urgent need to massively scale up resources needed to tackle both the immediate health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic and the longer-term recovery measures once the crisis abates. This is much more acute for developing countries that have entered the pandemic in much more fragile and perilous economic conditions. However, despite an initial flurry of financial commitments and early but limited initiatives on sovereign debt relief, traction on globally coordinated action appears to have slowed considerably. This presentation will examine how the challenges to mobilise international financial relief for developing countries in the COVID-19 era is based on the problematic governance and regulatory shortcomings of the international architecture for public finance and what steps we should take to reform this architecture to better respond to crisis and enable sustainable development.
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Topic: Post COVID-19 International Law and Multiculturalism
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Federico Lenzreni, Department of Political and International Sciences, University of Siena, Italy
Date: 18 January 2020 | Time: 7:30 pm IST
Register here: bit.ly/aail-lecture4
Multiculturalism—or ‘cultural pluralism’—is shaped by the uniqueness and plurality of the cultural identities of the peoples and communities making up humankind, and is an emerging value in international law. Culture is the element which determines the uniqueness, identity, and distinctiveness of each human being (as an individual) and community (as a collective). Each cultural model existing in the world is unique and irreplaceable, and the cultural specificity of each person or community determines their life aspirations, expectations, and choices.
An international legal order paying attention to multiculturalism is better equipped to concretely help human beings and communities to give realisation to such aspirations and expectations. Coherently, special attention for multiculturalism has recently developed in the field of international human rights law, in the context of which an hermeneutic approach of evolutionary character is progressively evolving, characterised by understanding, interpretation and adjudication of internationally recognised human rights standards through paying particular attention to the particular needs of the people specifically concerned in a concrete case.
Promotion of multiculturalism also represents a driving force in view of creating a favourable environment for stable international relations and peace, through fostering tolerance, mutual understanding and appreciation for cultural diversities, to prevent intercultural conflicts and ‘to ensure harmonious interaction among people and groups with plural, varied and dynamic cultural identities as well as their willingness to live together’, as emphasised by Article 2 of the 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.
Indeed, as noted by the Constitution of UNESCO, ‘ignorance of each other’s ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war’.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is disclosing—in a way that has probably never been so evident in the past—that what is commonly defined as the ‘Westphalian Model’ of international law is not adequate to properly respond to the needs of the international community. In this regard, multiculturalism-related implications are multifaceted. In particular, the pandemic is determining a sharp recurrence of negative attitudes to multiculturalism. From its very beginning, multicultural communities have been disproportionately impacted by the plague of COVID-19. For instance, in the United States, African-Americans have been dying disproportionately, while access to healthcare by Asian-Americans has been particularly complex due to racist attitudes against them. Another example is represented by India, where the pandemic has caused a rise in child marriages. More generally, the global epidemy has increased intolerance and lack of understanding for the value of cultural diversity, translating into racial discrimination, marginalisation and even persecution of minority groups, as has happened for example as regards the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in South Korea. Throughout the world, indigenous peoples are especially affected by the epidemic and are facing threats of encroachment of their ancestral lands. Multiculturalism is also threatened by a severe decline of international solidarity, taking various forms, including restrictions of flow of refugees and other categories of migrants.
Faced with this kind of reality, the international community should react through increasing recourse to solidarity and intercultural dialogue. Human rights—especially those which attain a key importance in the context of the fight against the pandemic, e.g. the right to health—should be applied in a culturally respectful manner and through guaranteeing equal opportunities in favour of members of different cultural groups, to better face the effects of the pandemic. The positive role of multiculturalism should be maximised, favouring multicultural models of social interaction, in facing the consequences of the pandemic, which are responsive to the specific needs of the diverse communities. A conceptual transformation of international law should be promoted, through increasing reliance on cooperation and solidarity, the latter presupposing promotion of cultural diversity, as well as an increment of intercultural exchanges and multiculturalism. At the same time, certain undesirable effects of multiculturalism, which may adversely affect the fight against the pandemic, should be adequately addressed.
Topic: Statelessness Arising out of Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality and Persecution: An Irrefutable Link
Speaker: Prof. (Dr.) Sanoj Rajan, Distinguished Professor of International Law and Human Rights, Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, China
Platform: Zoom | Date: 16 December 2020 | Time: 6:00 P.M. IST
Register here: https://bit.ly/aail-lecture3
Rendering a person stateless can have devastating and long-lasting consequences, restricting an individual’s ability to participate in society, severely curtailing their political, civil, economic and social rights. Making an entire population stateless, based on their religion, ethnicity, or identity, is arguably an act of persecution and can often lead to crimes against humanity such as torture, enslavement and extermination. However, the links between making an entire population stateless and crimes of persecution against humanity have often been overlooked. This talk will explore the nexus between the two issues, arguing that the arbitrary deprivation of nationality to a large population is itself a crime of persecution against humanity and is illegal under international law. The talk will begin with an examination of the nature of statelessness before moving on to a discussion on how statelessness arising out of arbitrary deprivation of nationality invariably leads to crimes against humanity. The talk will conclude with a suggestion to amend the definition of crimes of persecution against humanity under the Rome Statute to act as a deterrent for future violations.
'Humanisation of International Law: The Example of Arms Control' by Dr. Daniel Rietiker, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
27 November 2020 | 3:00 PM IST | 10:30 AM CET
The first talk in the series will be delivered by Dr. Celine Tan, from the University of Warwick, on ‘Towards a New Architecture of International Public Finance in the COVID-19 Era’.
Register here: http://bit.ly/aail-lecture1