24 November 2023
Openning & Keynote
Hüseyin Demir

Research Group on Human Rights and Politics

Prof. Hüseyin Demir is a distinguished academic and professional with a rich and varied political science and law background. Having earned a Ph.D. from Leeds University, a Master's degree from the University of Wales, and a Bachelor's degree from Ankara University, Demir has an extensive professional journey, starting as a Research Assistant in the field of postgraduate education in Britain and later serving as an Associate Professor and Vice Dean at Kırıkkale University. He was senior lecturer on constitutional law and human rights at Turgut Ozal University. He has held various leadership roles throughout the years, including Head of Public Administration and Politics Department, and contributed significantly to the academic community. The international scope of Dr. Hüseyin Demir's career is highlighted by roles such as Senior Lecturer and Deputy General Manager in the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Notably, he served as a Professor and Director of Quality Assurance at the University of Kigali in Rwanda, showcasing a commitment to global education and development. Beyond academia, Dr Hüseyin Demir has been actively engaged in civil society activities, holding positions such as President of the Democracy Association in Ankara and currently serving as the President of Aktion Flüchtlingshilfe Association and vice President of Human Rights Defenders Association in Berlin. He is very active in human rights advocacy.

Suzanne Eagen

University College Dublin

Crimes Against Humanity: Strengthening Accountability under the Global Human Rights Regime

As progress towards a dedicated UN Convention on Crimes Against Humanity continues apace, challenging questions arise as to how this new treaty will ‘fit’ within the existing panoply of international human rights mechanisms that have a role to play in holding states accountable for massive human rights atrocities. To what extent do existing human rights mechanisms adequately address the perpetration by states of such atrocities or their failure to prevent them? Will a new treaty mechanism ‘add value’ to the existing institutional architecture or might other ways be imagined by which new treaty obligations could be successfully integrated into the existing system? Drawing on recent insights in international human rights theory and practice, this paper will explore such questions having regard to the core aim of the proposed Convention, i.e. to strengthen inter-state cooperation and national prosecution and prevention of crimes against humanity.

Suzanne Egan is Associate Professor in the Sutherland School of Law at University College Dublin and Director of Knowledge Exchange for the School. She is the founding Director of the UCD Centre for Human Rights (2015-2019) and currently serves as the Centre’s Deputy Director. Suzanne has published widely in the field of international human rights law, policy and education and was awarded a Higher Doctorate of Laws (LLD) by the National University of Ireland in 2017 for her published work in the field. Significant works include her monograph on The UN Human Rights Treaty System: Law and Procedure (Bloomsbury, 2012) which was shortlisted for the Irish Association of Law Teachers, Kevin Boyle prize for outstanding legal scholarship; her edited collection, International Human Rights Law: Perspectives from Ireland (Bloomsbury, 2015); and most recently Extraordinary Rendition and Human Rights: Examining State Accountability and Complicity (Palgrave, 2019). Suzanne teaches courses on International and European Human Rights Law and Human Rights Education in the Sutherland School of Law and was awarded a University Teaching Excellence Award in 2017, and a College of Social Sciences and Law Award in 2022, for her sustained commitment to teaching excellence and student learning. Suzanne is a graduate of U.C.D. and Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto and a qualified barrister. Prior to lecturing at UCD, she was the Legal Supervisor of an independent research centre on refugee law and policy in Canada and a Research Assistant at the Law Reform Commission in Ireland. She has engaged in human rights training for various non-governmental organisations, the Council of Europe as well as members of the legal profession. She has also served for two terms as a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission and of the Joint Committee of the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Suzanne has been invited on several occasions to brief members of the Irish Parliament on key issues of international human rights law and has provided advice to the Irish Constitutional Convention on the concept of an all-Ireland Charter of Human Rights. Suzanne has been a Visiting Professor at DePaul Law School, Chicago, the University of Connecticut and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. She is currently an honorary Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bristol’s Human Rights Implementation Centre.

Panel I. Achieving Justice: The Role of International Organisations
Rustam Atadjanov

KIMEP University

Crimes against Humanity Committed during the Russian-Ukrainian War: Legal and Jurisdictional Aspects, Institutional Issues and Responsibility Challenges

Crimes against humanity constitute one of the four established categories of ‘core crimes’ in international criminal law. These crimes in essence represent massive and widespread violations of human rights in the form of crimes committed against a civilian population. They are the most commonly known among the different types of crimes under international law that is used for labeling mass atrocities every time when the world learns such have occurred. The modern treaty definition of crimes against humanity is found in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. According to available reports, war crimes are not the only type of criminal transgressions perpetrated by the Russian troops in the course of the ongoing war between the aggressor state and Ukraine. There is evidence that crimes against humanity occurred on more than multiple occasions since February 2022 in Ukraine entailing much suffering, destruction and death. These regular occurrences give rise to a multitude of issues that need to be tackled if the responsible party ever to be brought to bear criminal liability and face justice. After explaining the legal nature of crimes against humanity in international law, this presentation will look into those issues of legal, jurisdictional as well as institutional / organizational nature. The speaker will offer a legal qualification of acts committed by Russian forces in Ukraine since the military invasion phase of the conflict has begun, as crimes against humanity, and will provide analytical justification thereto. The presentation aims at providing the audience with a brief but comprehensive account of the main legal, substantive and normative aspects related to crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine. Finally, it will also review the role that humanitarian organizations may or should play in addressing or preventing these crimes as well as in alleviating the suffering of their victims.

Rustam Atadjanov, LLB, LLM, Dr. iur., PhD, is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean at KIMEP University School of Law, Almaty, Kazakhstan. He is an editor and co-editor in several academic books and periodicals including the Central Asian Yearbook of International Law and International Relations, and Ukrainian Law Review. His areas of expertise and research include public international law, international human rights law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, theory of law and state, constitutional law, criminal law, and more. Dr. Atadjanov authored his monograph “Humanness as a Protected Legal Interest of Crimes against Humanity: Conceptual and Normative Aspects” by T.M.C. Asser Press/Springer in 2019 and wrote around 50 academic and publicist articles, monograph chapters, scholarly papers, encyclopedic contributions and book reviews in a number of European and Asian academic journals. At the KIMEP University School of Law, he teaches Public Law and International Law-related courses.

Rosa Freedman

University of Reading

The United Nations Human Rights Council Special Sessions and Fact-Finding Missions: Shining a spotlight on abuses or failing to protect?

Rosa Freedman researches on the United Nations, and has a number of interests within that area: human rights bodies, creation and implementation of international human rights law, human rights of vulnerable groups (with specific focus on women's rights, SOGI rights, and freedom of religion/belief), accountability for human rights abuses committed by UN actors, preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in conflict and crisis zones, and the intersection between international law and international relations. Rosa has published extensively on the United Nations Human Rights Council and on the United Nations Special Procedures system, as well as on the Haiti Cholera Claims and on sexual exploitation and abuse committed by peacekeeping personnel and humanitarian actors. She fuses doctrinal and empirical research methods, and she deploys interdisciplinary lenses to inform and underpin her findings and analysis. Her work has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, and the Society of Legal Scholars. Rosa joined the University of Reading as the inaugural Chair of Law, Conflict and Global Development and the Director of the Global Development Division, having previously taught at Birmingham Law School and at Queen Mary University of London. She is a Research Fellow at the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Rosa hold various advisory positions, including being a member of the UN Secretary-General's Civil Society Advisory Board on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, a member of the FCDO Steering Committee on the Global Framework, and the Civil Society Workstream Lead on the Prevention Project. Rosa works with a broad range of stakeholders, including international organisations, national governments, and civil society actors, and is regularly invited to provide expertise to those actors. She frequently appears in appears in print, online, radio, TV and documentary media.

Gleb Bogush

University of Copenhagen

The Crimes against Humanity and the Ukraine War

International Independent Commission on Inquiry in Ukraine has made in its two reports, published this year, a finding that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed during the war of aggression against Ukraine, and there are strong indications of the state policy of the Russian Federation to commit such crimes. Allegations of crimes against humanity remain part of the investigation into the situation in Ukraine by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. However, those allegations have not yet become part of the broad debates and largely remain in the shadow of other international crimes, such as war crimes and genocide. The paper suggests that such an inferior status of crimes against humanity in accountability discourse is unfortunate and unjustified. Crimes against humanity are essential in understanding the nature and the scale of atrocities in the Ukraine war, and are strongly linked to the larger context of the crime of aggression. The accountability gap has widened since crimes against humanity are still very little known in Ukraine, Russia, and the region. Both parties to the conflict failed to criminalize crimes against humanity as such in their respective criminal codes. The current events constitute the unique momentum to address the deficiencies in the legal framework and criminal justice institutions on the international and domestic levels. The paper considers those challenges and possible solutions to strengthen the international legal framework and institutions to suppress and prevent crimes against humanity.

Gleb Bogush is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center of Excellence for International Courts, the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). Prior to 2022, he was an Associate Professor of International Law at the HSE University in Moscow. His main area of interest includes international criminal law, the law on the use of force, and international humanitarian law. He holds his PhD from Moscow State University. From 2012 to 2015, Gleb Bogush was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Germany).

Panel II: State Crimes and Human Rights
Penny Green

Queen Marry University of London

Facilitating genocide: Observations on the Special Case of the United Nations

This paper examines the role of the United Nations during Myanmar’s protracted genocide of Rohingya Muslims. The UN deserves special critical attention, not least because of its widely proclaimed ‘moral leadership’ in the field of human rights. Like the states which compose it, the UN has a sorry and shameful history when it comes to genocideidentification, prevention and protection (Lebor 2006). This paper concentrates on the role of UN operations inside Myanmar during the critical years between 2012 and 2018 and is based on empirical data secured from UN officers, fieldworkers, humanitarians and Rohingya in Yangon and Rakhine State. We explore in detail the UN’s role in Myanmar’s genocide and ask whether it might amount to ‘state humanitarian crime’. We argue that the UN was indeed complicit in the genocide that unfolded. While not suggesting that the UN shared the genocidal intention of the Myanmar regime we argue that its actions and organisational goals served quite explicitly to facilitate rather than challenge the genocide.

Penny Green is Professor of Law and Globalisation and Head of the Law School at Queen Mary University of London. Professor Green has published eleven books and numerous articles. She has published extensively on state crime theory (including her monographs with Tony Ward, State Crime: Governments, Violence and Corruption 2004 and State crime and Civil Activism: on the dialectics of repression and resistance 2019), state violence, Turkish criminal justice and politics, ‘natural’ disasters, transnational crime, mass forced evictions/displacement and resistance to state violence. She has a long track record of researching in hostile environments and her most recent projects include a comparative study of civil society resistance to state crime in Turkey, Tunisia, Colombia, PNG, Kenya and Myanmar; forced evictions in Palestine/Israel and Myanmar’s genocide against the Rohingya. In 2015 she and her colleagues Thomas MacManus and Alicia de la Cour Venning published the seminal ‘Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar’ and in March 2018 ‘The Genocide is Over: the genocide continues’. Professor Green is Founder and Director of the award winning International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) and co-editor in Chief of the international journal State Crime. She is an Adjunct Professor at Birzeit University, Ramallah and is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of NSW and Ulster University.

Aziz Isa Elkun

SOAS

China’s Uyghur Genocide: A Historical Examination

This paper delves into the historical and contemporary dimensions of China’s genocide against the Uyghurs, stemming from the unlawful occupation of their homeland, East Turkistan (also referred to as Uyghuristan or Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), in October 1949, with direct military backing from Stalin’s Soviet Union. This topic primary focuses on China’s ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in the Uyghur region. Since 2014, the Chinese government has constructed an extensive network of internment camps, often described as “modern high-tech surveillance prisons”; across the Uyghur Autonomous Region. Some reports indicate that certain camps may house up to ten thousand detainees. According to various estimates, as many as three million Uyghurs and other Turkic individuals in China have been unlawfully confined in these facilities, euphemistically termed “Vocational Education Training Centers” by Chinese authorities. The existence of these internment camps was initially disclosed by Western scholars, media outlets, and Human Rights organizations in early 2017. This paper contends that the conflict between the Uyghurs and the Han Chinese has deep historical roots. The Uyghurs assert their heritage as an independent nation, while the Chinese Communists illicitly seized and, in recent years, initiated genocidal acts to solidify their colonization and annexation of the vast Uyghur homeland as an integral part of China. Notably, the Chinese government deliberately evaded addressing the fundamental issue of Uyghur autonomy, which was granted in 1955. Instead of fully implementing the provisions enshrined in the Chinese constitution, they frequently targeted Uyghurs with charges of separatism and terrorism whenever they sought equal civil rights with the majority of Han Chinese citizens and the complete realization of Uyghurs’; autonomous political status or even gaining independence from China. By presenting many historical and contemporary evidence, this paper implores the international community, particularly the United Nations and its member states, to honor their duty in preventing genocide in the 21st century.

Poet and academic Aziz Isa Elkun born in Uyghur homeland (Uyghuristan / East Turkistan). He lives in London since 2001. Elkun has published many poems and research articles in both Uyghur and English. He worked for many years as secretary of PEN Uyghur Centre. From 2014 to present, he worked as Research Assistant on various Uyghur study projects based in SOAS, University of London. His co-authored English language articles published: “Inner Asia and Central Asian Survey (‘Invitation to a Mourning Ceremony’: Perspectives on the Uyghur Internet – and ‘Islam by Smartphone: the changing sounds of Uyghur religiosity’ ). A book chapter in The Routledge Companion to Music and Human Rights (Music, Terror, and Civilizing Projects in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region ). A research report published by Uyghur Human Rights Project (The Complicity of Heritage: Cultural Heritage and Genocide in the Uyghur Region, February 2023) He produced a short documentary film, “An Unanswered Telephone Call,” in early 2019, depicting the ongoing sufferings of his family after China pursued a total blockade of international telephone calls between Uyghurs at home and abroad since 2017.

M. Efe Çaman

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Dynamics of Authoritarianization: Unraveling the Systematic Human Rights Violations, Persecution and Dehumanization of Targeted Groups in Turkey

International Independent Commission on Inquiry in Ukraine has made in its two reports, published this year, a finding that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed during the war of aggression against Ukraine, and there are strong indications of the state policy of the Russian Federation to commit such crimes. Allegations of crimes against humanity remain part of the investigation into the situation in Ukraine by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. However, those allegations have not yet become part of the broad debates and largely remain in the shadow of other international crimes, such as war crimes and genocide. The paper suggests that such an inferior status of crimes against humanity in accountability discourse is unfortunate and unjustified. Crimes against humanity are essential in understanding the nature and the scale of atrocities in the Ukraine war, and are strongly linked to the larger context of the crime of aggression. The accountability gap has widened since crimes against humanity are still very little known in Ukraine, Russia, and the region. Both parties to the conflict failed to criminalize crimes against humanity as such in their respective criminal codes. The current events constitute the unique momentum to address the deficiencies in the legal framework and criminal justice institutions on the international and domestic levels. The paper considers those challenges and possible solutions to strengthen the international legal framework and institutions to suppress and prevent crimes against humanity.

Mehmet Efe Caman embarked on his academic journey at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU) and Universität Augsburg in Germany. He earned his combined B.A./M.A. (Magister Artium) double major degrees from Augsburg University as a Friedrich-Ebert Scholar with honors in Political Science and Sociology, and he obtained his Ph.D. in Political Science with a Bavarian State Elite Research Doctoral Award (BayEFG)at Augsburg University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Currently, Dr. Caman's research is centered on authoritarianism, democratization, and human rights, with a specific focus on Turkish politics in the realms of comparative and international politics. His interests span democratic decay, contemporary human rights issues in Turkey, and the political justification mechanisms employed by (semi) authoritarian regimes. His earlier research delved into the evolution of Turkish foreign policy post-Cold War, resulting in the publication of a book based on his Ph.D. research, alongside three other books, numerous book chapters and scholarly articles in English, German, and Turkish. Having worked at the Center for Turkish Studies at Essen University and Augsburg University in Germany, Dr. Caman later contributed his expertise to several universities in Turkey. Notably, he served as the Department Head in the Political Science Department and the Dean of the School of Economics and Administrative Sciences at Turkish-German-University in Istanbul before moving to Canada for his sabbatical year in 2015. Since 2015, Dr. Caman has been an integral part of the Political Science Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). His commitment to academic contributions extends beyond academia, as he is a frequent media contributor and op-ed writer, providing valuable insights into matters of political significance. Dr. Caman is also among the academics from Turkey who lost their tenure positions via arbitrary Decree Law in 2016. As an Academics for Peace Petition participant, he is a vocal human rights advocate and a critic of the Erdogan regime, contextualized within the persecution he faced. Dr. Caman was awarded the Scholar Rescue Fund Scholarship in 2017 and the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation’s Philipp Schwartz Initiative Scholarship in 2018.

Panel III: Improving Conventions to Protect Human Rights
Hugo Relva

Amnesty 

Towards a Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity

The International law commission drafted articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity. The Draft Articles circulated to states are promising. However, a number of substantive amendments appear to be necessary if the Draft Convention is to become a powerful tool "to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes", as stated in the Preamble. Moreover, in order to avoid the rapid ossification of the new potential treaty, it is advisable for the articles to reflect the most significant developments in international law, and also allow for future progressive developments in the law, instead of reflecting a lowest common denominator acceptable to all states. This article suggests some revisions to existing provisions, new provisions which may make the text much stronger and finally identifies some important omissions which should be fixed by states at the time of adopting the Draft Convention.

Hugo Relva is Legal Adviser for Amnesty International (International Secretariat) at the International Justice Team since 2004. He has represented Amnesty International before the former Human Rights Commission, the International Criminal Court, the Inter American Court of Human Rights, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the International Law Commission. He has authored several amicus curiae brief of his organization, as well as a number of public papers and law journal articles on international criminal law. He has also been part of research missions of Amnesty International in Colombia, Sierra Leone, Serbia and Kosovo. He has taught international criminal law in Argentina at Universidad Nacional de La Plata..

Kemal Sahin

Research Group on Human Rights and Politics

Addressing Crimes Against Humanity within the Framework of the European Convention on Human Rights

According to the official statements made by the Turkish authorities, as of July 1, 2022, 676,411 individuals were subjected to criminal proceedings based on trumped-up terrorism charges related to the FETO/PDY, an acronym used by the Turkish government to designate the Gulenist community as an armed terrorist organization. Of those who were subjected to the criminal proceedings, 282.790 were taken into police custody; 94.975 of them were detained, and tens of thousands of individuals were convicted and imprisoned since July 15, 2016. The so-called criminal acts submitted as evidence by the prosecutorial authorities to prove that the accused individuals are the members/leaders of an armed terrorist organization have consisted of using Bylock communication app, holding a bank account with Bank Asya, or being a member an association or a trade union, without attributing any unlawful act or criminal intent/motive to the accused individuals. The recent but delayed ECtHR Grand Chamber judgment, Yalçınkaya v. Türkiye, shone a piercing light into the shadowy depths of massive human rights violations committed by the Turkish government against innocent individuals, illuminating the grim truth that the vast web of criminal proceedings ensnaring hundreds of thousands of individuals based on their purely lawful acts. This revelation serves as an irrefutable testament to the absence of any criminal activity attributable to the accused, thereby dismantling the facade of stigma and guilt that had maliciouslyshrouded these individuals. The ECtHR judgment has adduced the UN WGAD decisions, which strongly hinted that the pervasive pattern of detentions conducted by the Turkish government against the members of the Community might have amounted to the crimes against humanity. This paper will argue that there is a strong connection between the ECtHR’s judgment and Article 7(1)(e)of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. And it asserts the imperative need for human rights conventions, such as the ECHR, to explicitly incorporate references to the Rome Statute, thereby fortifying their response to the massive human rights violations that might amount to, or could potentially escalate to the level of, crimes against humanity.

Kemal Sahin is a professor of general public law and human rights law. He is just one of the thousands of the victims of the Turkish Government's atrocities in the country. He taught public law, huma rights law at several universities in Turkey and abroad. He conducted his traineeship at the Council of Europe, Venice Commission. He worked for the Council of Europe as an expert and a consultant. Dr. Sahin graduated from Istanbul University Law School, and holds a PhD in public law from the same University. He completed his MA in Human Rights and Democratization at the University of Malta (second semester at University of London, advance legal studies), and his master’s in public law at KOU Law School. He holds an LLM from Boston College Law School. He primarily wrote on human rights and constitutional law.

Zoe Grossi

KU Leuven

The crime against humanity of other inhumane acts: understanding the act of causing serious injury to mental health

Crimes against humanity are sometimes regarded as the gap fillers within the realm of international criminal law, often serving as the means to address legal protection gaps associated with the crime of genocide and war crimes. Crimes against humanity offer a broader scope of protection than the crime of genocide and are applicable both in time of war and in time of peace. This broad protective intent is manifestly discernible in the residual clause “or other inhumane acts”, affording the potential to evolve and adapt in response to emerging forms of atrocity crimes. Nonetheless, the clause simultaneously introduces considerably ambiguity, particularly in relation to the reference to serious injury to mental health. This ambiguity arises from the subjective nature of mental harm, which can significantly differ from one individual to another and is comparatively more challenging to establish than physical harm. This presentation explores the interpretation of “serious injury to mental health” by conducting a comprehensive analysis of the case law of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the International Criminal Court (ICC). This case law analysis extends not only to the specific crime of other inhumane acts, but also to analogous crimes against humanity involving mental harm, in order to delineate a threshold that determines which underlying conduct is covered by the act of causing serious injury to mental health.

Zoë Grossi is a PhD student and teaching assistant at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and the Institute for International Law, KU Leuven (Belgium). She obtained a Master of Laws at KU Leuven in 2022. Since September 2022, she is preparing a PhD on mental harm as an element of international offences.

25 November 2023
Keynote
Kalbinuer Sıddık
Uyghur Survivor of China’s Genocide & Eyewitness to the concentration Camps

Kalbinuer Sidik, who is of Uzbek ethnicity, served as an elementary school teacher in Ürümchi for 28 years until March 2017, when she was forced to work as a Chinese-language instructor in a hastily constructed internment camp. After teaching in an all-male camp for six months, she was transferred to an all-woman facility in September, holding around 10,000 women. She was forced to have an IUD fitted in 2017 and was forced to undergo sterilization in early 2019. Her daughter in the Netherlands campaigned for her release and she reached safe haven at the end of 2019.  Sıddık testified before the Uyghur Tribunal in London in June 2021 and Congress in March 2023. She has also briefed policymakers in Australia and Japan.

Panel IV: Responsibility to Protect
Chloë Gilgan

Lincoln Law University

Barriers to Implementing the Responsibility to Protect Effectively: Searching for Accountability Closer to Home

This presentation is based on research that explores (1) how the UK’s selective neglect in linking the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to its peaceful responses to Syria reinforces the claim that R2P is predominantly understood as military humanitarian intervention, which is deleterious for building international consensus for atrocity prevention and response; and (2) How this understanding marginalises R2P as the relevant norm for responding to mass atrocities in the civil society advocacy and framing to states. It does this through an empirical case study of the UK’s responses to Syria during 2014-2016 when the UK’s peaceful responses expanded, providing rich data for examining their underlying motivations. The presentation explores how the UK’s particular localisation of R2P feeds into claims and fears of western imperialism, which obstructs effective atrocity prevention and response. How the UK has understood and practiced R2P has also directly affected how civil society contests and modifies R2P in response. Rather than using advocacy and engagement with states to reconceptualise the norm to fit its broader remit, some civil society actors have rejected or modified the norm instead. This has effectively helped entrap R2P within a narrow understanding and has made it politically expedient to show support for the norm’s aspirations implicitly rather than explicitly in the organisational discourse. Thus, the research provides a case study of the UK’s contestation of R2P’s peaceful measures that builds upon the growing scholarship on western understandings of R2P, particularly how powerful, liberal states contest and shape the norm and the feedback effects this has in terms of exacerbating existing resistance to the norm.

Chloë Gilgan is a Senior Lecturer in international human rights law at the University of Lincoln. She completed an ESRC-funded PhD and Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of York and the Centre for Applied Human Rights. She holds a JD from New York Law School and is a member of the New York State Bar and she holds a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University.  She was awarded the Professor Lung-Chu Chen Award for Excellence in the Field of Human Rights for her public interest service to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU in New York, the New York State Division of Human Rights, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. She was admitted to the NY State Bar in 2009, and then worked at a boutique London law firm before embarking on an academic career. She has presented her research at national/international conferences and has been published in academic journals, blogs and as Written Evidence for the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

Thomas Peak

University of Vilnius

Emerging cultures of atrocity prevention in a post-Liberal International Order

This presentation examines the evolving conceptions of the root causes of atrocity crimes within the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) framework and their implications for policy-making and activism. Whilst prevention is broadly agreed to comprise the core of policy-making and activism around RtoP, divergent conceptions of the root causes of atrocity crimes exist. Scholarship has identified how ‘two RtoPs’ co-exist in global international society (Quinton-Brown 2023). The legitimacy of the dominant ‘Northern RtoP’ is being increasingly challenged by a ‘Southern RtoP’. However, this discussion has so far focused on the most contentious dimension of the last-resort use of force. This paper develops our understanding of how broader cleavages in world order, characterised by the increasing autonomy and relevance of regional and previously marginalized actors, often described as the emergence of a ‘post-Liberal International Order’, are likewise producing coherent alternative visions of the root causes of atrocity crimes and the corresponding prevention strategies. As global actors more vocally challenge the ‘political’ dimension of mainstream UN prevention orthodoxies, these developments might have profound implications for how RtoP is articulated and practiced.

Thomas Peak is an Associate Professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science (IIRPS), University of Vilnius. Dr Peak received his PhD from Central European University in 2019. Prior to joining IIRPS in 2021, he was a post-doctoral research associate at the Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University. His first book, ‘Westphalia from Below: Humanitarian Intervention and the Myth of 1648’, was published by Hurst in 2021 (reviewed in Foreign Affairs, Perspective on Politics, and Peace & Change). Further work has been published in International Affairs, Perspectives on Politics, and Global Responsibility to Protect. His research interests include Responsibility to Protect, world order(s), historical international relations, and IT theories. At IIRPS, he currently convenes courses on ‘Transformations of the Global Order’ and ‘Mass Atrocities and International Intervention’.

Agnieszka Bieńczyk-Missala

University of Warsaw

Responsibility to Protect Against Massive Atrocities: A Critical Examination of the Global Imperative

The concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has emerged as a pivotal paradigm in international relations and humanitarian discourse. It created the framework for the prevention and responding to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing, which was confirmed by the UN General Assembly in 2005. The primary responsibility in this regard lies with the states, and in addition, it is shared by the international community. This study explores the historical context that led to the evolution of the R2P doctrine, tracing its roots from the aftermath of the genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans during the 1990s. It further examines the pivotal role played by states and international institutions in promoting and implementing the idea of R2P and fostering a global commitment to protect. Crucial is to analyze the numerous situations in which the Security Council has referred to R2P and try to assess the effects, but also situations where no action was taken (inter alia: Uyghurs in China) are important lessons. The latest case worth examining is the responsibility to protect Ukraine’s civilian population. It demonstrates the difficulty of implementing R2P obligations when a permanent member of the Security Council is a party to the conflict and treats the suffering of the population as a tool of war. The Ukrainian state’s contribution to protecting the population from mass atrocities should be demonstrated, as well as the efforts of the international community. Identifying weaknesses is necessary and even more important for the improvement of the protection system. In particular, the protection of the civilian population against means and methods of war requires international discussion, as well as the situation of the population in the occupied territory. There are no effective international control institutions which could contribute to the idea of protection under the occupation.

Agnieszka Bieńczyk-Missala – PhD, DSc in Political Sciences, researcher and lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Warsaw). Chair of the project entitled Prevention of mass human rights violations funded by the National Science Centre (2013–2017). Vice-Director for Academic Research and International Cooperation at the Institute of International Relations, University of Warsaw (2008–2012). Chief specialist and analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (2006–2008). Contributor to the joint activities within NOHA, i.e. Network on Humanitarian Action and many other national and international scientific projects. Holder of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation Scholarship at the Georgetown Leadership Seminar in 2016. Author of numerous scientific publications and papers presented at scientific conferences. Her research interests: international humanitarian issues, human rights, human security, international crimes, Poland’s foreign policy. Some of her recent publications: Preventing mass human – rights violations and atrocity crimes, Peter Lang Edition, 2021. A. Bieńczyk-Missala, Raphael Lemkin legacy in international law, in: M. Odello, P. Łubiński (ed.), The Concept of genocide in international criminal law, Routledge, 2020. A. Bieńczyk-Missala, Causes and consequences of negationism, in: P. Grzebyk (ed.), Responsibility for negation of international crimes. Memory Law – International Crimes – Denial, Publishing House: The Justice Institute, 2020.

Samuel Jarvis

York St John University

Rethinking the Institutional Barriers to Mass Atrocity Prevention: The Future of the Responsibility to Protect in the UN System

Outlined in the World Summit Outcome Document is the unique role of the UN Security Council, recognised as the body with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. As a result, much of the controversy surrounding state responses (or lack of) to prevent mass atrocity crimes have been framed around the critical role of the Security Council. However, the persistent failures of the Security Council to build consensus, or at times even recognise the outbreak of atrocity crimes occurring raises the need to focus more on how the goals of human protection and the R2P can also be further supported in the broader UN System. Drawing on theoretical analysis of emerging practices and innovations by states and civil society actors, this paper critically examines a range of forums and institutional mechanisms, in order to assess their potential value in supporting mass atrocity prevention activities. Most notably, highlighting the important interconnections between the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the UN General Assembly and regional organisations. Consequently, it is argued that the future of the R2P is likely to be defined by its application beyond the Security Council, whereby stronger backing for both top-down and bottom-up initiatives, supported by the wider UN system and implemented by the actions of regional organisations, states and civil society, will be essential.

Samuel Jarvis is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at York St John University and has previously held positions as a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds and as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Southampton. He is author of “The Limits of Common Humanity: Motivating the Responsibility to Protect in a Changing Global Order” (McGill Queen’s University Press, 2022) as well as articles in journals such as International Affairs, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, and European Journal of International Security. His current research focuses on the complex interaction between politics, morality, and law at the global level, with particular emphasis on examining United Nations practices in response to the challenge of mass atrocity crime prevention.

Panel V: Protecting Vulnerable Groups
Lucy Hall

University of Amsterdam

Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the Responsibility to Protect

This paper explores a recent turn in the normative landscape of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) framework that highlights that the provision of sexual and reproductive health care has to be fully integrated into atrocity prevention policies (R2P UN SG Report 2020). Applying a queer-feminist perspective this paper first outlines the current state of international law relating to sexual and reproductive rights and mass atrocity crimes. Second, this paper documents the role that international criminal tribunals have played in prosecuting crimes relating to sexual and reproductive health. Third, and finally the role of civil society organizations and NGOs is discussed in relation to preventing and responding to mass atrocity crimes, including treatment and health care provision, evidence collection and justice mechanisms. By doing so, this contribution seeks to advance feminist scholarship on R2P, international law and questions of reproductive health and justice.

Lucy Hall, (she/her) is a researcher and lecturer at PPLE College, University of Amsterdam. Her work considers the intersections of gender, violence and protection in refugee and humanitarian protection. Her publications include, Logics of Gender, Peace, and Security: Theorizing Gender and Protection at the Intersections of State and Civil Society in Global Studies Quarterly, (2021); and Programming the machine: gender, race, sexuality, AI, and the construction of credibility and deceit at the border in Internet Policy Review, (2021).

Sengül Celik

University of Mannheim

Crimes against Women in Turkish Prisons

Crimes against humanity can occur in various types from dehumanization to enslavements, unjust imprisonment to genocide and massacres, or experimentations on humans to the use of child soldiers. The term is coined during the Nurnberg Trials just after the Holocaust. The great sorrow of World War II grows in each event of crimes against humanity that happened once in Rwanda, once in Bosnia-Herzegovina, once in Myanmar once for Uyghurs once for Philippines once for colored people in the USA or Indians in Canada. Today, technologically human have more power than ever and it is said that we are living in Industry 4.0 but unfortunately, socially we couldn’t build peaceful and safety environment for a huge number of people all over the world. Turkey is one of the places where people experience crimes against humanity such as dehumanisation, extrajudicial punishments, kidnapping, forced disappearances, unjust imprisonment, torture, rape, social repression, and religious persecution. In this paper firstly, I will state how Turkish authorities committed crimes against detainees in Turkish prisons. The overcrowded prisons cause extra suffering especially during COVID19. Secondly, the deaths of people will be mentioned in Turkish Prisons such as: Halime Gülsu and Nessrin Gencosman who died because they weren’t given their medication. Ebru Timtik who died on hunger strike for a fair trial and Garibe Gezer who committed suicide after being genitally, physically, psychologically tortured by prison officials. Lastly, I will present the interview notes of ex-detainees in the hope of becoming a voice of unjustly, politically detained more than 30.000 of people in jails with nearly 10.000 women and more than 500 babies and children. Many severely ill or hindered people are behind the bars. They have been under arrest against both the universal and Turkish laws.

Sengül Çelik is an academic staff member and a researcher at University of Mannheim, Philosophy Department. Her research areas are ethics, applied ethics, bioethics, and women studies. In 1996, she graduated from Middle-East Technical University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy (major) and political sciences (minor). In May 2008 she finished her doctoral studies at the same university. Between 2005 and 2013 she worked at Fatih University, Istanbul. From 2013 until 2017 Dr. Çelik worked at Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul. She received a research grant from this university for her research on abortion. Dr. Çelik has given seminars on women issues all over the world and participated in the UN Women’s 56th Commission on the status of women as an expert. After being dismissed from her position at Yıldız Technical University with the State of Emergency Decree, she came to Germany to continue her career. During 2019-2022 She was awarded by Philipp Schwartz scholarship and worked as a researcher in bioethics at Mannheim University. In 2023, she was awarded a scholarship from “Innovation in Higher Education Teaching” (InnoMA). She coordinated a project that focuses on digitalisation of teaching bioethics’ course at the same university. Through her academic career she gives seminars and panels about human and women’s rights and worked in various NGO’s as human rights activist. She published journal articles, proceedings, a book and edited two books. She also works as a social worker for a foundation to support refugees.

Sameer Rashid Bhat

University of Oxford

The Road to Accountability for Crimes Against Children in Armed Conflicts

Reports from conflict-zones across the world indicate that violations of the rights of children are commonplace during armed conflicts and that children are specifically targeted for some crimes against humanity. These violations and crimes include recruitment of child soldiers, killing and maiming, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prosecution, attacks on hospitals and schools, abductions, and denial of humanitarian assistance. While part of the blame lies with the lack of specific protections for vulnerable children in the law itself, the inadequacies of international accountability mechanisms are also to blame. This presentation focuses on the latter. It relies on an outcomes-based definition of ‘accountability’ i.e., assigning responsibility, imposing consequences, creating deterrence and providing reparations. It maps and analyses existing mechanisms. While mechanisms that are judicial and quasi-judicial in nature can theoretically lead to an outcome accountability, they generally lack compulsory jurisdiction. Although non-judicial mechanisms can create deterrence through information dissemination, only the UNSC can generate and orchestrate hard-form accountability through sanctions. While these mechanisms can, as a system, generate accountability, that system also suffers from gaps, like the lack of accountability of non-State actors, and the failure to account for the peculiarities of the violations against children. This presentation provides recommendations on how this accountability gap can be addressed through pragmatic changes to the mechanisms and the system, without creating an entirely new regime.

Sameer Rashid Bhat is a DPhil candidate in Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. His doctoral research focuses on the interaction of legal regimes in armed conflicts. Before his DPhil, Sameer read for the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy (2019-20) at the Department of International Development, University of Oxford and for the Master of Public Policy (MPP) at Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government. Prior to Oxford, he obtained an undergraduate degree in law from Gujarat National Law University, India and is qualified to practice law in India. Sameer was a Graduate Research Resident at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and the Blog Lead for Oxford Transitional Justice Research (OTJR) where he previously served as the Chief Editor and Student Chairperson. He was Co-chairperson of Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) for 2020-21. In 2019, Sameer worked at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC), in the course of which, he authored a report on increasing accountability for crimes against children in armed conflicts. Sameer was also associated with the EURO-EXPERT Project, led by Prof Livia Holden at Oxford's Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Paris Nanterre University. As a Research Assistant on the project, he worked on the use of cultural expertise in decision-making in and out of courts in Europe. He now works as a Consultant for the Project coordinating research on India. Sameer’s research interests include public international law, international humanitarian law, constitutional law, human rights, counterinsurgency policies and Kashmir studies.

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