CALR Forum: Does and Should International Law Prohibit the Prosecution of Children for War Crimes?

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The picture of a young African boy holding a Kalashnikov in his hands has come to represent the archetypal child soldier drawn into a conflict he does not understand. It is thus claimed that children are not culpable for crimes they might commit during the conflict and, consequently, should not be prosecuted. On 1 March 2017 Noëlle Quénivet, Associate Professor in International Law at UWE, Bristol, challenged this view at a Centre for Applied Legal Research Forum. Alison Bisset, Associate Professor in Human Rights Law at the School of Law of University of Reading, responded to her paper. Noëlle Quénivet’s presentation, based on a paper that has been accepted for publication in the European Journal of International Law, argued that first, international law does not prohibit the prosecution of children for war crimes and second, in certain, narrow circumstances children having committed such crimes should be prosecuted.

The international community has for more than two decades pushed towards the prohibition of the prosecution of children for war crimes on the basis that children should be primarily viewed and treated as victims by virtue of their age and forced nature of their association with armed forces/groups. This lex desiderata created by the global civil society and UN agencies remains a wish, for the relevant lex lata, ie international humanitarian law and international human rights law allow States to prosecute children and even regulates such instances. States are encouraged to ‘[c]onsider excluding children under 18 from criminal responsibility for crimes committed when associated with armed forces or armed groups.’ (page 36) Has this permissive rule become a prohibitive rule? Or, phrased differently, have States made use of the permissive rule and thus prevented the creation of a customary norm prohibiting the prosecution of children for war crimes? After examining the practice and opinio juris relating to the prosecution at national level Noëlle Quénivet concluded that because post-conflict restorative mechanisms overshadow rehabilitative models of juvenile justice no clear answer can be given as to why States are not carrying out prosecutions. However, the fact that the US prosecuted (though not without controversy) children held in Guantanamo Bay for war crimes it was possible to draw the conclusion that States wished to keep permissive rule though in the very specific context of African post-conflict situations there seemed to be a trend towards the prohibition of prosecution. States practice at the international level is even less clear, for, while a few instances of state practice on the prohibition of the prosecution of children for war crimes can be discerned with regard to statutes of international tribunals and courts, the opinio juris seems lacking. States’ decision not to prosecute children is based on policy rather than law. In other words, States have kept the permissive rule alive.

The next question Noëlle Quénivet asked was whether the permissive rule should be retained. To answer such a difficult question she explained that the analysis of State practice and opinio juris reveal that the key element in States’ decision not to prosecute children for war crimes relates to the post-conflict context rather than to the age of the alleged offender. Put differently, the post-conflict restorative model of justice supersedes the rehabilitative model of juvenile justice. Rehabilitation of the child soldier happens within a wider restorative justice mechanism in which reconciliation among the offender, the victim and the wider community is essential. Yet, can reconciliation be achieved without justice or at least a sense of justice? Prosecution could be used as a tool to achieve this. Also, what happens to children caught in situations where there are or where is no need to create such reconciliation mechanisms and the veil of post-conflict restorative justice has been removed? This prompted Noëlle Quénivet to contend that the permissive rule should be retained but harmonised, ie applicable to a variety of situations, as well as limited in view of the fact that the prosecution of children for war crimes mainly rests on a deterrent approach towards punishment and the best interests of the child must stay the focus of any proposal. Noëlle Quénivet then proposed an elaborate system of triage and thresholds as she explained that any solution needed to work for the community by restoring a sense of justice as well as for the children in sending a message that the behaviour they have embraced is reprehensible. Further, she contended that the age of criminal responsibility should be set at 16.

Alison Bisset then shared her views on the subject. She pointed out that Noëlle Quénivet’s assessment of the international legal regimes and analysis of state practice demonstrated convincingly that in response to her first question – does international law prohibit prosecution? – the answer was no. The prosecution of child soldiers is neither prohibited by treaty, nor under customary international law. Yet, there is indeed a movement towards rehabilitation and reintegration as the favoured response and this movement finds some support in international law if child soldiers are viewed as being victims of exploitation and abuse. Treaties such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as soft law instruments such as the Cape Town and Paris Principles view restoration and rehabilitation as in the best interests of children associated with armed groups and armed forces. Coupled with the fact that the ICC has jurisdiction over only those aged 18 and over at the time of the alleged offence and that children have not been prosecuted before international or internationalized courts, Alison Bisset argued that there is a belief at the international level that children should not be prosecuted for war crimes even if international law does not prohibit it.

Answering the second question – should international law prohibit the prosecution of children for war crimes? – was more difficult especially as recent studies point out that first, children are able to make fully reasoned choices on whether or not to join armed forces/groups and second, the affected society may seek the prosecution of lower level perpetrators such as children. Thus although Alison Bisset stated that there was no principled justification for why child soldiers should not be prosecuted, she maintained that if States were to stand the best chance of restoration and long-term peace and security, they must rehabilitate their children so that they can play a constructive role in building the future.

Alison Bisset then offered an insightful critique of Noëlle Quénivet’s restorative model of justice focused on rehabilitation and reintegration with prosecution acting as a last resort in a limited number of specific cases. First, she stressed that the creation and resourcing of programmes implementing Noëlle Quénivet’s proposal would pose a number of challenges. Necessary systems and safeguards would need to be put in place to protect children’s vulnerability and provide them with adequate support. Also where rehabilitation programmes become linked, even tentatively, to formal judicial proceedings a whole host of questions around procedural rights and protections also arise. The financial cost of these programmes cannot be overlooked. Sadly, Alison Bisset noted that even current initiatives, which are generally less complex than what was proposed, are not working well, thus questioning what chance there was of successfully introducing something even more complicated.

Alisson Bisset finished her response by sharing her views on wider issues. She, for example, noted that there was such a preoccupation with prosecution in the aftermath of mass atrocity that there was notable decline in the attention paid to and the quality of post-conflict transitional processes. This impacted on the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers. Furthermore, the preoccupation with child soldiers deflected attention from other severe and far-reaching consequences of armed conflicts on all children.

The CALR Forum was attended by about 15 students and staff members from UWE. After Alisson Bisset’s response questions were taken from the floor. The audience was particularly interested in the nature of the charges brought against children (ie terrorism or war crimes), prosecutorial discretion in charging those fighting on the ‘good’ side, the definition of ‘voluntary recruitment’ and its application on the African continent, the effectiveness of the work of the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, etc. The complexity of the issue of child soldiers and, more generally, children in armed conflict was no doubt stressed in this sober-minded exchange of views.

 

Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School Students win big at UWE Talent Awards

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Every year, UWE Bristol celebrates their students and alumni with the Celebrating UWE Talent Awards.

This year, the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School won more awards than any other Faculty by winning in five categories and also having five runners up.

Firstly, Heather Murray, a student on BA Marketing degree, won the Undergraduate Intern of the Year award for an internship at St Werburghs Community Farm. The citation from her employer noted that during the internship she  became fluent and confident in writing licence and funding applications, together with communicating excellently with a wide range of people.

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award was won by Rob Wilson, Will Dooley and Bradley Green founders of Crowdreach, a business started whilst they were students on the Business (Team Entrepreneurship) programme. This start-up business delivers a  Crowd Funding service and has delivered on over 30 projects, with one project raising 1 million dollars.

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Matthew Lee, Managing Partner of Bishop Flemming LLP, with the winner and nominees of the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School Placement Student of the Year

Next up, the winner of the  Social Entrepreneur award was Neha Chaudhry, a graduate of the MSc Marketing degree, who developed a walking stick which assists sufferers from Parkinson’s disease. Neha used her social enterprise as material for a number of her assessments on the MSc Marketing programme.

Philippa Borton, a final year student on BA Business and Management, won the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School Placement Student of the Year for a placement at Boeing Defence UK. Her employers commented that she provided market analysis on a range of multi-billion pound campaigns, receiving formal recognition from executives in the UK and the US and making a valuable contribution to the business. She is currently working on a dissertation for which she collected the data whilst on placement and continues to work part-time for Boeing. Philippa has been offered a full time position with Boeing when she graduates.

Finally, Sagar Limbu,  an alumnus of the BA Business and Management and now a student on the MSc International Management, was a winner of the UWE Bristol Futures Award Student of the Year and a runner up in the International Experience Student of the Year category for an internship in China with Generation UK.

The Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School also had several runner ups in different categories across the night:

Arian Ali Ghanbari, from BA Business (Team Entrepreneurship) was a runner up in the Social Entrepreneur category for Solarnest. Arian used a UWE Enterprise grant to take part in the self-employed internship programme, building Solarnest’s brand, awareness and social media following.

Angharad Griffiths, an LLB Law student, was the runner up in the Undergraduate Intern category for an internship with Coull Ltd, who noted that she was ‘focused, efficient and always on time’ and that they are offering her a part-time role within the company.

The two runners up for the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School Placement Student of the Year were Victoria Strange from BA Business Management with Law for a placement as Business Development Co-ordinator with Barton Wilmore and Naomi Lee from BA Business Management (Leadership, Change and Organisations) for a placement as Project Support Co-ordinator with Treves UK.

Congratulations to all the students and alumni who won and nominated at the awards!

CALR Forum: Brexit, Article 50 TEU and the British Constitution

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Brexit: A word that one cannot escape reading newspapers, watching the TV or listening to the radio. It is literally everywhere. Yet, what it means in legal terms is often misunderstood and its repercussions on the legal, and notably constitutional, framework in the United Kingdom overseen. Therefore, on 22 February 2017 the Centre for Applied Legal Research organised its first Forum of the academic year 2016/2017 on the subject. Three staff members of the Bristol Law School, Christian Dadomo, Martina Gillen and Noëlle Quénivet, shared their views about Brexit, Article 50 TEU and the British Constitution, whilst offering an international, European and national legal perspective on the Brexit debate.

By way of introduction Noëlle Quénivet explained the legal bases of the European Union, ie treaties, stressing the concept of State sovereignty and the importance of understanding that both the ratification of and the withdrawal from a treaty are to be viewed as acts of sovereignty. She then explained that it was the Treaty of Lisbon that for the first time proscribed a withdrawal procedure in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Noëlle Quénivet described the process from the notification of withdrawal to the ratification of the withdrawal agreement by the UK, highlighting the various stages at which the European institutions are and will be involved and underlining the difference between the legal requirements in national and European Union law. Reference was also made to the potential content of a withdrawal agreement (eg budgetary matters, institutional issues, the situation of non-UK EU citizens in the UK and of UK nationals in EU States, etc).

Following on the idea of sovereignty that has so much been reiterated in the campaign leading to the referendum, Christian Dadomo delved into the multitude of types of sovereignty: parliamentary sovereignty, popular sovereignty and external or otherwise known as State sovereignty. After stressing that parliamentary sovereignty should be better understood as the primacy of Parliament in respect of statutes he showed the interaction and tensions between parliamentary and popular sovereignty, especially in light of the Brexit referendum. Furthermore, the relationship between the devolved authorities and the central government will be affected, as some of them after voting to remain in the EU would like a space at the negotiations table but have been denied so legally (with the Miller judgment before the UK Supreme Court) and politically. Christian Dadomo concluded by stating that Brexit will undoubtedly shake the constitutional legal edifice of the UK.

Martina Gillen opined that Brexit will have serious repercussions on the UK Constitution and more specifically on the relationship between Westminster and the devolved regions. As she explained Northern Ireland is a case-example of how poorly thought the referendum was. Brexit will affect both the relationship between Northern Ireland and Westminster as well as between Northern Ireland and Eire and has already had the effect of reigniting nationalist Irish feelings, especially in regions that voted to remain in the EU. She then examined in details the McCord decision before the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland, highlighting that the ruling was not a surprise as the claimants had not asked the right question (they asked whether Northern Ireland as a devolved authority could take part in the Brexit negotiations) and should have focused on the fact that persons born in Northern Ireland can take either British or Irish nationality and that Brexit would in fact deny equality of treatment for those who choose Irish nationality.

The CALR Forum was attended by over 20 students and staff members from the UWE Bristol Law School. After each presentation questions were taken from the floor and a lively and insightful debate often beyond the narrower scope of the speakers’ presentation ensued. There were thus discussions on the withdrawal from the European Economic Area Agreement, the impact of the Dublin regulation on EU border States, the nature (and fate) of EU law in English law, the potential continued jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, etc.

The next CALR Forum which will be held on Wednesday 1 March, 14:00-16:00 in Room 2B065. Noëlle Quénivet will be presenting a paper on the prosecution of child soldiers for war crimes that has recently been accepted for publication in the European Journal of International Law. Dr Alison Bisset, Associate Professor at the School of Law of the University of Reading, will respond to the paper.

Bristol Law School helps celebrate alumnus Jeremiah Daliel’s first book, inspired by his real life experiences

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On Thursday 16th February, Bristol Business and the Bristol Law School invited alumnus Jeremiah Daliel back to UWE to help him launch his first book.

Jeremiah Daliel was in a car accident in 2011 which left him wheelchair bound. Whilst recovering in hospital he found he had ample time on his hands so began reading avidly and ended up enrolling for not one but two degrees: LLB Law at UWE Bristol and Criminology at the University of Portsmouth.

On his first day at UWE Bristol, Jerry’s tutor asked the class what they saw themselves doing in the future.

Whilst his fellow classmates talked about future careers they would have, Jerry said he wanted to stand to receive his degree, 3 years later.

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Miraculously, Jeremiah managed to stand up completely unaided and remain standing for the first time in 5 years to receive his degree from UWE Bristol in July last year.

The incredibly emotional moment was shared on UWE Bristol’s Facebook page and was viewed over 130,000 times.

From being shared across UWE social media, the story got picked up by the press and Jerry soon became an internet sensation, with most major newspapers covering the story.

Since graduating in July, Jerry has continued his studies at UWE Bristol and is now undertaking his Advanced Legal Practice course. He hopes to go into full time practice upon completion.

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As well as studying for the LPC, Jerry has also written the book “Paradigm Uncovered: Up Close and Personal”.

The book was inspired by the life changing events which happened to Jerry but focuses on setting and achieving goals.

The book aims to help you change your mind-set in order to stay focused and achieve your goals.

Guests were welcomed to the book launch by Pro Vice Chancellor Jane Harrington, before Jerry shared his experiences and read excerpts from the book to the crowd.

Photos from the event can be found here. Credit: REW-Photography.

The Centre for Applied Legal Research Annual Lecture with Tunde Okewale MBA

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Bristol Law School was joined by Tunde Okewale MBE for the Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR) Annual Lecture on 9th February 2017.

Tunde, a barrister specialising in criminal defence at Doughty Street Chambers, is the recipient of numerous awards for his efforts to promote diversity within the legal profession. In 2016 he was awarded an MBE for his charitable work. He is the founder of the charity Urban Lawyers, a social empowerment project designed to educate, engage and stimulate discussion amongst young people in relation to Law. He’s also considered to be the most followed barrister on Instagram and his court room dress has even caught the attention of GQ magazine.

He delivered an energising address entitled ‘Nobody Rises to Low Expectations’ to an audience of staff, students and members of the Bristol community. Recounting his own journey, Tunde spoke about perseverance and responding to challenge in order to reach our goals. Following the talk Tunde, and event organiser Dr Zainab Khan were interviewed by Ujima Radio who were keen to hear about the Faculty’s commitment to diversity and raising attainment. The Law School looks forward to hosting Tunde again in the near future.

Photos from the event can be found here.

Alumnus Jeremiah Daliel Launches his book at UWE Bristol – Thurs 16 February

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Jeremiah Daliel became an internet sensation when he stood for the first time in five years at his UWE Bristol graduation ceremony in July to receive his Law degree.

Join the Bristol Law School help him celebrate the launch of his book on Thursday 16 February at UWE Bristol.

Since his graduation, Jerry has finished and launched his book Paradigm Uncovered which inspires setting and achieving goals. Paradigm Uncovered converts the reader from going with the flow to taking charge of life’s controls

Jerry became wheelchair bound after a bad car crash in 2011. However, Jerry used his time in hospital to study for a degree in Criminology and Law.

He is currently studying the LLM LPC Advanced Legal Practice at UWE Bristol and plans to go into full time practice on competition.

At the launch, Jerry will share excerpts from the book as well as recounting some of his experiences including when he stood at his graduation ceremony.

There will also be time for networking over light refreshments.

Places are free to attend but you need register via Eventbrite.

 

The Faculty of Business and Law launch new Research Centres and Groups

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A ‘soft launch’ of the new research centres and groups was held on 25th January 2017 at the Executive Conference Centre.  The groundbreaking research undertaken at UWE Bristol aims to make its mark on business, industry and the wider community.

There are three new research centres and five research groups:

  • CALR- Centre for Applied Legal Research
  • BCEF – Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance
  • BLCC – Bristol Leadership and Change Centre

The groups are:

  • IOMS – Innovation, Operations Management and Supply
  • HRM – Human Resource Management
  • AMG – Applied Marketing Group
  • EE – Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
  • BBEC – Bristol Business Engagement Centre

Donna Whitehead Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean in her introductory remarks stated:

I’m really excited about the future of our research. What we are launching today represents our ambitious and creative values. We have created new research centres and groups that really reflect our strengths; where we have significant resource, capacity, capability and ambition’

Presentations were given on each of the research centres and the research groups, outlining the aims of each centre or group.

All the presentations stressed the applied nature of their research and links with their stakeholders.

The soft launch was held prior to Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, Chairman of Cobra Beer’s Bristol Distinguish Address.

In his concluding remarks Lord Bilimoria congratulated the centres and groups and focused on the benefits of collaborative research that impacts on both policy change and decision -making. Lord Bilimoria outlined the benefits of collaborative research and the resultant opportunities.

Over 120 staff and external stakeholders attended the soft launch.

Centre for Applied Legal Research Annual Lecture: Tunde Okewale – Thurs 9 February

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Join us on Thursday 09 February for the Centre for Applied Legal Research’s Annual Lecture with Tunde Okewale.

To register please see here.

Tunde Okewale MBE (Doughty Street Chambers) is the recipient of numerous awards for his contribution to social justice and inclusion. In 2016 Tunde was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. He was named Diversity Champion at the UK Diversity Legal Awards in 2014.

Tunde is the founder of Urban Lawyers, a charitable initiative designed to educate, engage and stimulate discussion amongst young people in relation to law. The organisation provides information to disaffected young people and communities, as well as providing information and opportunities about how to secure work and/or experience in the legal profession.

Tunde grew up in a council estate in Hackney, East London. Tunde is the eldest of four children and was the first person in his family to attend university and obtain a degree. He is passionately committed to promoting diversity and widening participation within the professions.

Alongside the accolades for his charitable work, Tunde has attracted considerable interest from the media for his unique style. He has been the feature of GQ articles and is considered to be the most followed barrister on Instagram.

Having been called to the Bar in 2009 he has established a practice in General Crime, Serious Crime and Extradition. He also specialises in Sports Law and is a Registered Lawyer under The FA Football Agents Regulations.

Tunde was involved in the Griffiths Trust ‘Hush The Guns’ Project in Kingston Jamaica in 2009, and was also commissioned by the Jamaican and Canadian Government to facilitate workshops for disaffected youths.

The event is free to attend but you must register a place. To register please see here. The event will be held in the ECC on Frenchay Campus.

UWE Student Conference: Final call for abstracts

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Organised jointly by staff and students, the inaugural UWE Student Conference will celebrate research/enquiry/evidence-based practice from undergraduate and postgraduate taught students across all years of study and all disciplines.

There will be prizes for the best paper and poster presentations, and posters will be printed at no cost. Your name, paper/poster title, abstract and short biography will be included in a colour programme.

 What can you present?

  • Dissertation work
  • Group based/individual projects
  • Placement/Internship activities
  • Essays
  • Evidence-based enquiries
  • Reflective evidence-based practice/ service improvement.

You can use existing coursework material or present new ideas to gain feedback

What is the time-line?

  • Revised and final abstract deadline: Friday 20 January 2017
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: Monday 30 January 2017
  • Conference registration opens: Monday 30 January 2017
  • Submit papers and posters online: Friday 24 March 2017
  • UWE Student Conference: Monday 10 April 2017 (first week of Easter break)

How do I submit an abstract?

You can find the abstract submission form and further details via: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/newsandevents/studentconference.aspx or by checking Infohub.

Email your abstract to learningforall@uwe.ac.uk using the conference abstract submission form by the revised deadline of 20 January 2017. In the subject of your email state: your faculty, your name, student conference e.g.:  ACE, John Smith, student conference.

“Life after a law degree – different legal jobs and options” – Panel event – 25 January

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The Bristol Law School are hosting a panel event on Wednesday 25 January to highlight the different career paths you can take after studying a Law degree. The panel includes three Law alumni from UWE Bristol.

The speakers are:

  • Jonathan Grant, Head of Legal for Markets, Banking and Notes at the Bank of England;
  • Steve Rowan, Director of the Tribunals, Trade Marks and Designs Division of the UK Intellectual Property Office;
  • James Poole, Team Manager of Company Secretarial Services at Capita Asset Services; and
  • Bryannie  Gibson, Senior Associate at PwC.

Each of the speakers will talk for around 10minutes on their career path from Law degree to their current job. They will explain their current role as well as sharing tips for soon to be graduates.

The presentations will be followed by questions and informal networking over refreshments.

The event is open to any student who is interested in a career in the legal profession, regardless if they are studying Law or not.

The event starts at 1pm in 4B031, Frenchay Campus.

If you would like to attend this event please register via InfoHub.