Centre for Legal Research


Just showing posts from November 2014

Professor Louis Kotzé Distinguished Professorial Address 

Posted by Lauren Rees | 0 comments

On 3 November 2014, Professor Louis Kotzé was invited to Bristol Law School, as part of the Distinguished Professorial Address Series, to speak about ‘Human Rights and the Environment in the Anthropocene’. Professor Kotzé started his presentation by outlining the role of human domination, in the context of population growth and human consumption.

Professor Kotzé outlined that the 21st century spelled a new epoch – the anthropocene. He explained that within this era, there is a prevalent recognition of the dominance of humankind on the Earth. Accordingly, this recognition is coupled with growing concerns regarding the adverse implications humans might have on the environment, suggesting that it is creating a facet of instability in the world.

Professor Kotzé posed the apt question of: “What change is involved and how can we respond to it?” In response, it was stressed that in order to maintain stable conditions legal systems cannot rest on the current foundations. That is to say, in order to maintain harmony in the global order, legal institutions and systems would need to be restructured, which also applies to human rights.

Indeed, human rights are a set of legal demands that articulate an underlying ethical norm. They also have a higher juridical level; yet, human rights have often been critiqued as too vague, culturally imperialist, too individual and disingenuous.

In referring to the Earth Charter, Professor Kotzé stated that he believed that human rights should be more eco-centric; while humans should be at the centre, they should not be the beneficiaries. Furthermore, the balance of human rights should be shifted, so that they are more inclusive.

Current human rights are blinded by “ideological palliatives”. This is evidence from the complacency that is surrounding debates on sustainable development and the right to development. Professor Kotzé argued that development is only acceptable if it is justifiable within the eco-system, thereby recasting human rights.

Change requires the cooperation of the whole global architecture, yet there is little incentive for developing countries to change, when their developed counterparts do not set an example. As a result, inequality is perpetuated.

Professor Kotzé asserted that human rights are based on notions of equity, re-imagining them would enhance justice for humans and the whole earth system, as the power of human rights lies in the ability to transform society. Respectively, rights should be constructed, in order to promote communities, or group perceptions of freedoms. While this may mean that the individual nature of rights would be lost, it would propagate a system, which would protect both nature and humans – spelling a shift from conventional understanding of rights, to one of “planetary stewardship”.

The presentation was followed by a lively debate that raised questions as to the content and presentation of human rights, notably property rights, as well as, the role of corporations, with reference to the UN Business and Human Rights ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy’ framework.

Amy Man

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Turbulent times, murky boundaries and (in)securities: (Un)veiling identity of women in Kazakhstan 

Posted by Lauren Rees | 0 comments

Speaker: Dr Aida Abzhaparova, UWE

It has been more than two decades since the Soviet Union collapsed and the Republic of Kazakhstan entered the international system as an independent and sovereign state.

Scholars specialising in post-Soviet states have produced immense volumes of research regarding political, economic and social developments of the post-Soviet states. It would be right to define the 1990s as the 'turbulent 90s' where post-Soviet states went through the turmoil of the collapse of one political system and its replacement with another. It is during the 90s that the government of Kazakhstan defined, constructed and developed the main directions of Kazakhstan's development.

Today the Kazakhstani government still holds a strong grip on social, economic and political developments. However, the lives, identities, and securities of women tend to exist somewhere between Kazakhstan's establishment as a sovereign state and Kazakhstan's political aim to become an 'island of security and stability' within the Central Asian region.

Scholarly attention tends to be focused on Kazakhstan and its political elite and in this paper I want to start destabilising this focus and instead closely examine the lives of women, their struggles in reconstructing identities and coming into being within an independent Kazakhstan. I argue that it is essential to seek understanding of how identities of women have been reproduced in Kazakhstan by the government and by women themselves in order to explain the political disengagement of a majority of women.

Analysis of this paper is based on six week's of field work carried out in Kazakhstan this summer. Drawing on my interpretation of the interview data I divide women of Kazakhstan into three categories:

the Soviet Woman
the post-Soviet Woman
the Woman of Independence
Through my analysis I aim to demonstrate that there are murky boundaries between (re)construction of identities of women, their (in)securities and their sense of political (dis)location.

In this talk I will offer my initial findings and analysis on the ways in which the identities of Kazakh women and their (in)securities are mutually constituted and constitutive of acute female political disengagement. Drawing on this I will argue that it is not how women dress that is dangerous, but it is the political disengagement that poses a great threat not only to women but also to the Kazakhstani society and state as a whole.

The link is here: http://info.uwe.ac.uk/events/event.aspx?id=16818&dm_i=27I8,2XBXA,G7MO7G,AKFL4,1

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