Bristol Law School and Stowe Family Law enter into collaborative relationship

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This week Bristol Law School announced that they will be entering into a collaborative relationship with Stowe Family Law (SFL).

SFL, joined the Bristol Legal Community on Monday 12 February by opening a new office on Queen Square.   The Bristol team will provide expert divorce and family legal advice within Bristol and the surrounding area. Bristol Law School’s focus is on delivery of practice through oriented teaching and learning, and this collaborative relationship with SFL will help further this focus.

In 2018 to start with, SFL will welcome a high-performing student from UWE on summer placement: UWE offers Family Law as an option at undergraduate level as well as an elective on their solicitor and barrister professional courses. Many of our graduates are heading into Family Law practice, and this collaboration with SFL is an excellent opportunity for both students and practitioners to connect.

The intention is incrementally to grow the relationship for the mutual benefit of UWE’s students and the firm, through working together on the delivery of pro bono activities, staff development and other input into the curriculum.

Among the planned activities planned for the future is the delivery by the firm of training around client interviewing skills in a Family Law setting. This could potentially support the existing Family Law pro bono work of the law school’s students in conjunction with the Personal Support Unit at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre.

Dagmar Steffens, Director of Law at UWE Bristol Law School, said:

“The school is delighted to welcome Stowe Family Law into the Bristol legal community. SFL is a well-established provider of high quality advice in Family Law matters. Our school has a particular strength in the arena of Family Law, covering a wide range of areas including leading research into Public Family Law, e.g. non-consensual state welfare interventions; high impact research into making Family proceedings more transparent to the local community; UG and PG options for our students to study Family Law in depth; and pro bono activity supporting litigants in person. Our students benefit enormously from the Law School’s very close ties with industry and practice. Our new collaboration with SFL will strengthen this in respect of Family Law, and give SFL access to the enormous talent on offer at UWE. We look forward to growing our relationship with the firm over the next couple of years with it becoming a close partner to our Law programmes.”

Jemma Slavin, Managing Partner of Stowe Family Law Bristol, said:

“We are very excited about opening in Bristol and developing ties with the local legal community.  We are keen to give something back to future generations of lawyers and it’s great to be doing that via collaboration with such a reputable academic institution as UWE.’

We will share more updates as this exciting relationship develops.

The new office address details:

Stowe Family Law LLP, Ground floor, Queen Square House, 18-21 Queen Square, Bristol BS1 4NH

 

 

 

Guest Talk – Dr Lorenzo Pasculli: The Impact of Brexit on Integrity and Corruption: Local and Global Challenges

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The talk was organised by the Commercial Law Unit and the International Law and Human Rights Unit on behalf of the Centre for Applied Legal Research.

On 14 February 2018 Dr Lorenzo Pasculli, Senior Lecturer in Law at Kingston University London challenged the audience to look at Brexit through the prism of corruption. No doubt this was an insightful and out of the ordinary guest talk for those who suffer from Brexit fatigue.

Dr Pasculli started by explaining that since Brexit or anything similar has never happened before it is difficult to find a theoretical framework to reveal what the consequences of Brexit will be on corruption. That being said, Dr Pasculli stressed that in his opinion Brexit has and will have an impact on integrity at a variety of levels as well as anti-corruption laws and policies.

In relation to integrity, the impact of Brexit can be felt in three areas: political, financial and commercial as well as systemic social. Dr Pasculli explained that the impact of Brexit on political integrity can be analysed at both macro- (ie public bodies, corporations and the media) and micro-level (ie individuals working in the public service) on the one hand and from an internal (ie British politics) and external (eg foreign affairs as well as other States) perspective. This risk factors relating to political integrity are chiefly due to the multiple and complex interests which create division as well as confusion and so mistrust that is amplified by what Dr Pasculli calls, ‘the wrong choice of decision-making device’ which was the referendum. At the internal micro-level there has always been a solid tradition of political integrity even when there were conflicts between personal views and the views of the party. The risk here is that if individuals externalise their dissent they might be reprimanded or marginalised for doing this (as it happened in some recent case). This might lead to the repression of pluralism and dissent. At the internal macro-level, the UK which is often viewed as the beacon of the rule of law is performing very poorly as politicians with undermined integrity did not explain the complexity of the issues and certain lobbying and media stained the Leave campaign of misinformation. Dr Pasculli pointed out that the lack of regulation of the British press exacerbated the influence of lobbies on certain press. The dearth of effective sanctions facilitates partisan press and political misinformation. Further the lack of mechanisms for politicians to step back, apologise for and correct the effect of misinformation on the general public (eg £350 million for the NHS campaign) undermines political integrity. Overall this atmosphere has led to (1) a phenomenon of deresponsabilisation; (2) reliance on emotions rather than reason and information when law and politics should be based on rationality, reasonableness and evidence; (3) general deterioration of political integrity and standing. The consequences of Brexit on external politics (outside the UK) should not be underestimated too. Discussions were had on possible emulations in the form of Grexit and Exitaly but they did not materialise. Most importantly Brexit has strengthened the global trends of populism and nationalism that clearly undermine political integrity as voters are given information that is not built and/or supported by evidence. Brexit, in other words, nurture the global trend of irrationality. After Dr Pasculli argued that this erosion of political integrity leads to ‘legalised forms of corruption’ (eg press being lobbied and lack of regulation of the press) he called for a widening of the definition of corruption in line with the anti-corruption convention. He highlighted the revolving door appointments as an example of lawful practice and stressed that research shows a disconnection between what people believe is unlawful and the actual regulation of particular activities. Dr Pasculli explained we should seize Brexit as an opportunity to raise awareness about these problems as well as ensure a better responsabilisation of certain politicians. Both internal and external pressure can be used to persuade the UK to adopt necessary regulatory measures.

Dr Pasculli then moved on to examine the impact of Brexit on financial and commercial corruption. Dr Pasculli started by explaining that the UK government has clearly explained that the UK will leave the single market even though the EU market is crucial. The conditions imposed by the European Union to the UK in relation to market access might be viewed by the general public as unreasonable and unfair. Such a perception could lead to a violation of legal rules, for there is a tendency to the rationalisation of corrupt practices when the law is seen as useless and/or unfair. This inevitably creates a subculture that encourages corruption more generally. Furthermore, Dr Pasculli observed that as the UK is looking to negotiate trade agreements with non-EU States it must be wary of such business opportunities. First a number of such countries do not comply with anti-money laundering and anti-corruption regulations. Second, companies might have to use corruption in order to pursue their business activities in corrupt-ridden countries. Looking at the countries mentioned by the UK government as potential business partners it is clear that the UK is looking at doing business in places that are high on the corruption index of Transparency International. In other words, British companies are going to move the trade to an environment which is more corrupt. As Dr Pasculli stressed, there is a need to raise awareness about this potential corruption threat. Nonetheless it might be possible to view these business opportunities in a positive light and argue that British companies could become exporters of good practices, strengthening the rule of law and global governance in these countries and more particularly in the Commonwealth.

In relation to systemic social integrity Dr Pasculli noted that the UK government is supporting high-skilled migration only. This, he believed, is extremely short-sighted. Research shows that corruption causes emigration, particularly of high-skilled migrants looking for opportunities in other countries as they are unable to move on in their home country. This however does not necessarily mean that high skilled migrants are immune to corruption. On the contrary studies demonstrate that immigration from corrupt countries boosts corruption in destination countries. As a result, Dr Pasculli suggested that to avoid the spread of corruption in the UK thorough background checks at the port of entry need to be carried out.

Is the UK continuing to be a global example in relation to anti-corruption practices? Dr Pasculli began by asserting that the UK has often been used as a model for anti-money laundering and anti-corruption measures and policies. The possibility of deregulation once outside the European Union might be viewed as a threat to the excellent contemporary regulation. Whilst some scholars argue that Brexit is a distraction from the anti-corruption agenda, Dr Pasculli contended that this is not necessarily the case. In fact in the past year a variety of institutions (eg the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre, the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision) have been set up and strategies (eg anti-corruption strategy) and laws (Criminal Finances Act 2017, implementation of the fourth money-laundering directive) drafted and adopted.

Brexit will also have an impact on UK financial sanctions which could potentially lead to an increase in corruption and money-laundering practices. Dr Pasculli first observed that financial sanctions are imposed on individuals in relation to their access to financial assets and services and are imposed with a view to pursue specific foreign and national security policies. Then Dr Pasculli noted that at the moment such sanctions can be imposed by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union (often in implementation of UN Security Council resolutions) and the UK Office of Financial Sanctions. After Brexit there will be no need for the UK to comply with the EU sanctions regime anymore. Dr Pasculli underlined that the new Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill 2017-2019 endows the executive with large powers for a broad range of purposes (eg fighting measures that challenge the rule of law). Further, it is flanked by weak individual safeguards such as ex post judicial review and no jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (which had in the Kadi case protected individuals’ human rights against the application of UN Security Council resolutions). Post-Brexit the UK will not be able to sit in EU meetings that relate to sanctions and as its strong voice on sanctions usually gathered support from other Member States it is argued that that without the UK taking part in such discussions divisions amongst EU member States might show more prominently. That being said if the UK imposes sanctions that are not aligned to other States it will feel the pressure of other States as well as companies that are trading in such States. This in turn might increase the potential for corruption.

Last but not least Dr Pasculli stressed that as the UK will be drafting a new raft of laws it must be careful that such laws are not providing opportunities for corruption and crime. Criminogenic lawmaking is indeed a potential risk post-Brexit with new schemes and laws being designed and individuals as well as companies finding ways to abuse or misuse such schemes (eg welfare benefit, taxes/fees/obligations, access to goods and services). Such potential for corruption is heightened if broad regulatory powers are given to authorities.

Looking forward Dr Pasculli shared with the audience his recommendations: (1) there must be some form of responsabilisation of politicians and companies, (2) education and ethicisation are key to maintaining integrity in public affairs, (3) ‘corruption proofing’ of legislation must become an established practice, (4) external controls must be increased.

 

PSU Murder Mystery Fundraising Event – March 21

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On March 21, a group of MA Event Management students are hosting a networking event with a twist. Join them for their Murder Mystery Networking Evening for anyone in the legal profession.

You will team up with to solve crime, whilst widening your connections in the legal field.

While benefiting from meeting and connecting with new individuals, all profit generated from the event will be provided the legal charity

Personal Support Unit (PSU). The PSU help individuals in the Bristol area who are facing legal processes alone by assisting them to represent themselves effectively in civil and family cases and tribunals. You can read more about their work here.

For just £12, you will receive admission to the Murder Mystery Networking Evening, along with a welcome drink and nibbles.

Come along to get to know new people whilst competing against your colleagues and friends to solve the murder the fastest – there is a prize for the quickest team!

Register here or find out more information here .

 

Bristol Law School students come 2nd in the regional heat of the Client Interviewing Competition

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On Saturday 10th February, UWE Bristol hosted the regional heat of the Client Interviewing Competition. The Client Interviewing Competition is a competition for Law students, who in pairs interview and advise a client on an unknown legal problem. This year 39 teams throughout the country entered the competition. UWE Bristol welcomed 12 different Universities to the regional heat.

The Bristol Law School (BLS) team, consisting of Josie Hebestreit (LPC) and Adam Hobson (GDL) came 2nd in the competition. They will now take part in the National final which is being held in London in March. If the BLS team is successful at the nationals, they will go through to the international competition which is in Maastricht this year.

Senior Law Lecturers Suzaan Rowley and Victoria Latimer with the help of the UWE Law Society, offered training sessions to any BLS students who wanted to compete in the competition. Adam and Josie as UWE finalists went on to be coached by Suzaan and Victoria and were chosen to represent UWE at the regional competition. This was the first time UWE Bristol had entered a team into the competition.

Josie and Adam faced stiff competition from other universities including University of Bristol, University of Law and Cardiff University. The pair were placed 2nd after Oxford Brooks and will now join 9 other teams at the national competition.

Suzaan commented:

“We are delighted Adam and Josie got through to the nationals as the competition was very tough! Client interviewing is a key legal skill that all lawyers need to perfect so this competition will help them develop their interview technique further.”

Congratulations to Adam and Josie!

 

UWE Law students win big at two national mediation competitions

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Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students, David Forster and Sara Harrison-Fisher, represented UWE Bristol at the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Mediation Competition in London on 19-21 January, competing against teams from other Universities, trainee solicitors and pupils.

They walked away with prizes for the Best University Team and the Past Master Karl Davies Memorial Award which was awarded to the team with the Most Creative Solution.

Lucilla Macgregor who, along with her fellow BPTC tutor Sara Whiteley, mentored the pair in preparation for the competition said:

“David and Sara did extremely well in the face of stiff competition.  This is the second time in two years that UWE BPTC students have won a prize at this event, which gives them a fantastic opportunity to practice their advocacy and negotiation skills in front of accredited mediators”.

BPTC students and tutors

The following weekend saw Law undergraduates, Jade Trill, Callum Tucker, James Hathaway and Jack Kaczanowski, competing in the UK National Student Mediation Competition, held at ULaw in London.

The team won the awards for Best Mediation Team, Best Mediator (Jade) and Second Best Mediator (Callum), beating undergraduate and post-graduate teams from 16 universities around the UK.

Their coach, Rachel Wood, said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for the team, particularly as this is the first time we have entered the National Competition.  The students have studied mediation and practised their skills in our internal UWE Mediation Competition. It is wonderful to see their skills being recognised by professional mediators judging them in a national competition”.

UWE Bristol now expects to host the UK National Student Mediation Competition in January 2019.

Guest Talk – Professor Emily Reid: Securing the Future of the World Trade Organisation

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In November, Professor Emily Reid from Southampton Law School gave a guest talk entitled “Securing the Future of the World Trade Organisation“. Read the recap of the talk below:

For more than the last decade the WTO and ‘globalisation’ has been the subject of sporadic public protest, exemplified by events in Seattle in 1999. More recently, the last decade has seen in Europe a growing number of popular demonstrations against a range of trade and investment treaties such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU. Frequently disquiet has focussed upon a perceived conflict between economic liberalisation or indeed globalisation itself and social or environmental values. Reference to these protests and public sentiment formed the backdrop to Professor Emily Reid’s guest talk at UWE on 1 November 2017. Prof Reid, an expert in international economic law and sustainable development, examined how the World Trade Organisation is defending and can defend such non-economic interests whilst still holding a liberal view of trade relations. Her passion for the subject is drawn from her previous work on how the European Union has managed to accommodate the protection of human rights and environment with economic liberalisation, and extrapolating from this the lessons which the global community might learn from that. (see E Reid, Balancing Human Rights, Environmental Protection and International Trade: Lessons from the EU Experience (Hart 2015))

Prof Reid began by noting the growing diversity of legal orders, pursuing a range of objectives, both economic and non-economic, highlighting that the interrelationship between social, environmental and trade elements is complex and evolving. Whilst these three elements can clash in particular instances, they are not inherently in conflict and in the longer term they are, indeed, mutually dependent, as is evident in the concept of sustainable development.

The broader question relates to the legitimacy of this economic organisation inasmuch as its policies and decisions have been the subject of criticism by some for failing to take sufficient account of human rights and environmental concerns. The fragmentation of international law with its variety of actors and self-contained regimes further complicates the task: who are the regulatory decision-makers? Wherefrom does their legitimacy stem? How are they accountable and to whom? These pressing concerns are no doubt difficult challenges for States operating in a new legal order, in which the role of the state is radically different to that under the ‘Westphalian’ order in which the WTO was created. How can the State in a Westphalian sense of the term deal with this multiplicity of actors? How can (local) democratic accountability be secured?

In addition, the international legal context has considerably evolved in the past decades as the WTO has had to engage with the emergence of new popular concerns, such as environmental protection, and their associated legal regimes. Indeed when the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was negotiated, the definition of ‘conservation of natural resources’ as an exception to the trade rules was understood in terms of mineral resources. The WTO has since, however, acknowledged that a modern understanding of the term was needed. Such recognition is crucial to the ongoing relevance and legitimacy of WTO law.

As global regulation is evolving and increasing, political and democratic demands are growing too. Contemporary political events (eg the vote for withdrawal of the UK from the European Union, the election of President Trump, the support for Le Pen in the French presidential elections) reflect a growing popular nationalism, and rejection of elements of globalisation: does this mark a transformative shift?

Prof Reid pointed out that the legal order that regulates economic relations is not only legally binding but also highly sophisticated in that it provides for binding dispute resolution. The pursuit of trade liberalisation requires a reduction of barriers to trade, yet national environmental regulation has the capacity to impede the application of WTO law, constituting as it can, a barrier to trade.

Thus Professor Reid identified the challenge for the WTO as being two fold – first, there is a challenge of legitimacy, and second, there is a need to re-establish and strengthen the balance between global economic integration and domestic regulatory autonomy. These carry implications for both the fact that the WTO addresses the balance between economic and non-economic interests and the manner in which it does so.

On the first, Prof Reid notes that it is significant that it is the WTO which is, by virtue of its dispute settlement mechanism, the sole adjudicator of the balance to be drawn between application of the WTO rules, and their relationship with national regulation. That the WTO, an economic organisation, is the organisation which determines the balance between trade liberalisation and national environmental regulation raises a number of legitimacy, and of accountability related questions. Prof Reid noted that there has been significant criticism regarding decisions made by economic bodies generally and the WTO more specifically, however she went on to note that on further investigation, some of this criticism is unfounded. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body has an obligation to apply the WTO rules, it has no jurisdiction to go beyond this, and would face questions of legitimacy were it to do so.

Prof Reid then turned her attention to examining how the WTO solves this conflict between on the one hand the rules of the WTO and its covered agreements, and on the other hand national environmental regulation. Has the WTO the competence to do so? If so, how has it taken on the challenge? After all, it is important that the WTO approaches the subject in such a manner that it meets the test of legitimacy as it otherwise opens itself up to further challenges.

In this light, Prof Reid argued that the WTO can indeed meet the challenge of legitimacy provided it (1) reinforces the non-discrimination paradigm (ie national treatment principle and most-favoured nation clause) and (2) re-examines the way in which it addresses the balance between economic and non-economic interests.

Prof Reid explained that initially the underlying objective of the WTO was to secure welfare gain for everyone. Later, imbued by a neo-liberal account, free trade became a goal in itself rather than a tool to reach other objectives. Illustrative of this development is Article 2.2 of the TBT agreement that provides that national regulatory measures must not only be non-discriminatory but also necessary. This is no doubt a manifestation of the neo-liberal thinking as both discriminatory and non-discriminatory regulatory measures must be justified. As a result the State is less free because it must prove that the measures (eg emission standards) are necessary as part of the test and this, of course, opens the door to greater and more in-depth reviews of national measures. Prof Reid thus argued that the non-discrimination paradigm must be reinforced.

Prof Reid then scrutinised the way the WTO dispute settlement mechanism can potentially encroach on how non-economic issues are viewed and addressed in international economic law. Whilst it might be contended that States had agreed to such legally binding mechanism on a voluntary basis they nonetheless did not expect such a curtailment of their freedom to act. This no doubt affects the legitimacy of the mechanism all the more as an increasing number of individuals deem the protection of the environment to be of utmost importance and feel that the WTO is impinging on such an important matter. That being said, Prof Reid stressed that the WTO dispute settlement mechanism has so far, notably due to its restricted mandate, adopted a conciliatory approach. The mechanism, when examining general exceptions to the non-discrimination principle, has adopted a broad interpretation of the terms so as to facilitate the use of these clauses to cover environmental issues. After carefully examining the test enshrined in Article XX GATT that relates to general exceptions, Prof Reid concluded that the mechanism does not question the level of protection offered by such measures, but whether the measure is the least restrictive in terms of trade. This enables the mechanism to keep an objective evaluation of the measure even though it does claim that it is engaging in a ‘weighing and balancing’ exercise. As a result of the mechanism refusing to examine the state’s level of protection (which is in fact consistent with the trade liberalisation paradigm) it avoids the legitimacy question.

In conclusion Prof Reid reiterated that the evolution of the international legal order poses a significant challenge to the WTO. She however maintained that the WTO has the capacity to address such challenges: it must reinforce the non-discrimination paradigm and continue to resist the movement towards a subjective evaluation of State measures

In the discussion that followed, participants asked questions about eg the consistency of the case-law of the dispute settlement mechanism, the interrelationship between WTO rules and regional agreements, how non-government organisations can influence WTO decisions, and the definition and application of the concept of ‘human health’ as found in Article XX GATT.

Rt Hon David Lammy MP launches 2018 Equity Speaker Series at UWE Bristol

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Rt Hon David Lammy MP, author of the Lammy Review launched the 2018 Equity Speaker Series on Wednesday 24 January at the UWE Bristol Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Lammy, who is an popular campaigner and outspoken social and political commentator, spoke on the topic of  ‘The Confidence to Be: What next for the BAME graduate?’

Following the talk, 200 delegates enjoyed networking and a Caribbean inspired canape reception courtesy of Calypso Kitchen restaurant , the brain child of UWE Bristol Alumnus Will Clarke.

A number of pro-diversity organisations were also in attendance as exhibitors to promote opportunities to BAME students.

About UWE Bristol’s Equity Programme

Equity is an innovative positive-action talent and professional development programme for home-BAME students at UWE Bristol.

It was launched in the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School at the University’s annual Link event in October 2017 which attracted approximately 300 students and professionals.

Its principal objectives are the improvement of graduate outcomes specifically in terms of increasing professional employment and self-employment rates as well as supporting them to aim for careers which offer promising earning potential.

Equity days take place once a month and include race and identity coaching and workshops entirely facilitated by external BAME professionals and entrepreneurs. Each Equity day concludes with a keynote speaker that reflects the best of British BAME talent.

(Equity Curator Dr Zainab Khan and Race Equality Programmes Officer Alex Mormoris are both based within the Bristol Business School, any queries should be addressed to raceequality@uwe.ac.uk you can also follow the programme on Twitter @Bristol_Equity )

IPO Develops New Tools For Universities

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Marcus Keppel-Palmer, the Associate Head for the Faculty of Business and Law for Pro Bono, was one of the panel members working with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) developing a new range of Intellectual Property (IP) resources for use in Schools, Universities, and businesses.

The new suite of resources aim to develop a greater understanding on on IP with students and how IP impacts on their future careers.

The resources known as IP Tutor Plus were launched on January 9th 2018.

IP Tutor and IP Tutor Plus

The IP Tutor tools, developed by the IPO, CIPA, CiTMA, lecturers and industry professionals, provides information on IP.

IP Tutor Plus is a resource for university lecturers to deliver IP lectures. There are four modules; creative, humanities, STEM and law, business and accounting subject areas.

IP for Research

Created for PhD students and researchers to develop a greater understanding of how IP can maximise the impact of their research.

IP management tools

The Intellectual Asset Management Guide for Universities and Lambert Toolkit support the setting of IP strategies within universities, and the management of effective collaborations between universities and businesses.

Resources for further education

Before students reach university, the Future Innovators Toolkit provides level 3 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers with the resources they need to introduce IP at any point in the curriculum.

More details can be found here.

Presentation of a Paper on Russia and International Law at a Symposium on Hybrid Warfare at the Swedish Defence University

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In the last few decades the concept of ‘hybrid warfare’ has gained prominence in international security studies. Although there is no agreed upon definition of hybrid warfare it can nonetheless be described as the simultaneous and synchronised use of different instruments of power – military, economic, information, civil, social, political, financial and legal – with the aim to destabilise an adversary. Historically, hybrid warfare was known as ‘asymmetric warfare’ and mainly carried out by non-State actors with weaker military forces who disregarded international legal norms, used terrorist tactics, were involved in organised criminal activities and conducted information warfare. Increasingly, States and military alliances such as NATO have adopted some of these multidimensional means of warfare in blended tactics. The security challenges arising from hybrid threats and wars are today high on the agenda, notably because no comprehensive approach explaining how hybrid wars and threats are to be handled has been advanced.

It was with this view that a symposium was organised by the Swedish Defence University (SEDU) in collaboration with the Centre for Conflict, Rule of Law and Society, Bournemouth University and the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at SEDU on 14-15 November 2017. Aimed at facilitating the production of new knowledge and the development of future cooperation the event gathered international practitioners and researchers discussing the contemporary challenges to the international security environment from a Swedish and international perspective. It was notable that participants from the USA, Sweden, Georgia, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, the UK, South Africa and Norway tried to address these challenges from a multidisciplinary research point of view.

A number of speakers at the Symposium focused on the use of hybrid warfare tactics by Russia. It is in this framework that Dr Noëlle Quénivet (Bristol Law School) presented a paper she had written in collaboration with Dr Sabine Hassler (Bristol Law School). This paper was in fact the further and logical development of a set of ideas that the two staff members of the Bristol Law School had advanced in a chapter for an edited collection on The Use of Force against Ukraine and International Law which is due to be published in April 2018. In this chapter Dr Hassler and Dr Quénivet argue that Russia was (and is) using nationality (understood in a wide sense of the term) as a political, economic, and cultural tool to justify expansionism in neighbouring States. Its use of nationality is commonly known in academic literature as ‘passportisation’.

This analysis, drawing on the experiences in the Baltics, Georgia, and Ukraine, have led Dr Hassler and Dr Quénivet to go a step further, examining whether passportisation is part of a wider policy and whether Russia is rewriting the post-1945 rules that are based on the sovereignty of States, the prohibition of the intervention in internal affairs, the prohibition of the threat of or the use of force, the principle of self-determination and the protection of human rights. Russia, so it seems, is using grey areas in international law to implement a policy whose legal implications are in breach of the key principles of the UN Charter relating to international peace and security. It is contended that the policies and tools (eg conferral of nationality, support for the right of self-determination, protection of nationals abroad, threshold of ‘armed attack’, etc) developed and used by Russia are not necessarily unlawful per se; they can indeed in some instances be justified under international law as they fall within its grey areas. That being said, the situations created as a result of this policy are often unlawful (eg recognition of a State that is part of the territory of another State, occupation and annexation, etc.).

Presentation - Stockholm

In this regard, it is particularly remarkable that in all its activities Russia is taking great care in providing legal justifications. Failing to be able to justify its actions, Russia simply denies its involvement. The key question is whether Russia is using the law and the grey legal areas to advance its own version of international law and thus contributes to delineating the norms of international law or whether it is incrementally testing the limits of international law with a view to modifying the post-1945 legal framework. Dr Hassler and Dr Quénivet argue that in fact Russia is not proposing a novel interpretation of international law; rather, it is testing to which extent some less established norms and practices in international law can be modified to suit its own purposes and interests. Here, Russia is acting much alike other States, trying to preserve its national security and territorial integrity. As a matter of fact this emphasis on State security and integrity reveals that Russia is keen on securing an old – based on military security – rather than a more contemporary – based on human and environmental security – interpretation of the post-1945 rules.

Student post: Are the Legal Regimes Governing Piracy Efficient?

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This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. We offer this module in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It is led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module includes the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

Author: Luc Edwards

As a trade route, the Strait of Malacca accounts for a quarter of the world’s traded goods, with over 94,000 vessels sailing through every year. The narrow stretch of water, located between Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Sumatra, Indonesia, has historically been particularly susceptible to pirate attacks. This is due to a combination of elements, ranging from its importance as a trade route to the geography of the waterway, compounded by the historical influence of piracy in the area. This blog aims to investigate, using the Strait of Malacca as an example, the effectiveness of legal regimes in combating maritime piracy.

One common misconception regarding maritime piracy is the belief that piracy is most prevalent in the waters surrounding Somalia and Guinea. However, between 1995 and 2013, the Strait of Malacca and the surrounding seas accounted for over 41% of the world’s pirate attacks – dwarfing that of the 28% staged in the Indian Ocean. This 18 year period also resulted in the reported loss of life for 136 seafarers – surpassing that of both the Indian Ocean and West African Coast combined.

luc 1
Heather Jones / Time; Source: ICC CCS (reproduced here)

Under Article 101 of UNCLOS, piracy is defined as ‘any illegal act… …containing violence… …that takes place on the high seas’. This wording effectively renders the provision unenforceable in the area due to the definition of ‘high seas’ under Article 1 of Convention on the High Seas, as the Exclusive Economic Zones of the three littoral States, as per Article 55 of UNCLOS, encompass the entire waterway – meaning due to the partial assertion of State sovereignty, the Straits cannot be defined as such. The ineffectiveness of UNCLOS in this respect has led the littoral States to attempt to use other methods to combat the seemingly perpetual issue of piracy in the area.

The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP) offers us one example of State collaboration in the effort to prevent piracy in the Strait. There are 20 States party, including a host of Asian countries, such as Singapore and Vietnam, as well as those less proximate to the Strait itself, for example Norway. Malaysia and Indonesia, however, are notably absent. Since its entry into force in 2006, the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) was launched in Singapore, where it has since become recognised as an international organisation as of January 2007. Used mainly as a central platform for information exchange between signatories and their respective ReCAAP Focal Points – usually the partying State’s main outlet of combating piracy such as the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore – the ISC is also used to cooperate with other like-minded organisations, whilst simultaneously facilitating capacity building efforts in a bid to improve the capabilities of States party in fighting piracy.

Along with the introduction of ReCAAP, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have all increased efforts to eradicate piracy in the area. However, problems have arisen as a result of this due to factors such as allegations that Indonesia views Malaysia and Singapore as direct economic competitors as opposed to strategic allies – arguably supported by Indonesia’s absence from ReCAAP. The economic divide between the three aforementioned States also conceivably exacerbates the problem, as despite Indonesia’s relatively strong GDP, the difference in population results in Indonesia’s GDP per capita of $3,636 – with Malaysia and Singapore holding respective figures of $9,546 and $53,053. Naturally, those who have not reached a post-material existence may be more inclined to engage in criminal activity, for example, piracy – a simple solution considering Indonesia’s archipelagic coastline stretches for over 54,716km – with (Anderson, ‘It’s a Pirate’s Life for Some: The Development of an Illegal Industry in Response to an Unjust Global Power Dynamic’ (2010) 17 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 319) using Somalian piracy to illustrate the phenomenon.

However, despite initial resistance from Indonesia to cooperate with other States, the Malacca Straits Coordinated Patrol (MALSINDO) was launched by Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in 2004 – although this has been hindered by the patrols inability to travel into territorial waters in effort to preserve State sovereignty. This reluctance can also be shown to have waned further, through cooperation between States reasonably proximate to the area, exampled through the Indian participation in the patrols following 2006 and Indonesia’s crucial involvement in China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative, which will naturally strengthen the patrolling forces.

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Although piracy is still an issue in South-East Asia, the regional and international efforts to combat piracy in the Straits can be shown to have had at least some effect, as illustrated by the above graph. Whilst the same graph exhibits an increase in incidents following 2011, it is clear that the scale of piracy in the area has been reduced – notably so following 2004; undoubtedly due to the introduction of MALSINDO on a regional level alongside the international efforts under ReCAAP. This therefore shows that, despite the shortcomings of the relevant UNCLOS provisions, the legal regimes governing piracy in the Strait of Malacca can be deemed efficient.