The synergies between the Paris Agreement and the SDGs: An opportunity for national governments to achieve key climate targets

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Dr Noah A. Izoukumor, Member of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Research Group

Introduction

The Paris Agreement (PA) was adopted on the 12th of December 2015.[1] The central aim of the PA is to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels or even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.[2] To achieve this aim, Parties to the PA made individual commitments through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The ‘NDCs, are actions that Parties to the PA plan to undertake to address climate change’ at the national level.[3] Most of the initial NDCs made commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030.[4]

 In 2015, the same year the PA was adopted, the United Nations also adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the Millennium Development Goals.[5] The SDGs are 17 aspirational goals and 169 associated targets. The SDGs are also meant to be achieved by 2030.

In other words, both the PA and SDGs were adopted in 2015, and the targets and obligations were to be achieved by 2030.[6] This raises some critical questions about whether it is possible to align the obligations of the PA with key related SDGs, or is it possible to achieve key SDGs targets that are linked with the PA simultaneously since both targets are meant to be achieved by 2030?  On the contrary, it was argued that how the alignment of the PA with the SDGs is possible considering that the SDGs and the PA are two separate instruments.[7]  In this research blog, the aim is to briefly assess the possibility of the alignment between PA obligations with key SDGs, and the key benefits of such alignments at the national level.

Are there synergies between climate change and the SDGs?  

There is emerging research on the integration of climate change and the SDGs.[8]  Nerini and others elaborated on the possible alignment of climate change and SDGs. They acknowledged that in most countries, climate change and sustainable development remain separated.[9] According to them, ‘capitalizing on synergistic actions can enable both sets of objectives to be met more quickly, efficiently and effectively.’[10] 

Antwi-Agyei and Dougill investigated the alignment of SDGs and NDCs.[11] They examined NDCs submitted by 11 West African states and their link to key SDGs.[12] Their investigation shows the strong commitment of West African countries to food security which can be aligned with related SDGs.[13] They argued that this alignment provides opportunities for national development on the low carbon pathway.[14] 

Also, a critical assessment of the provisions of the PA and the SDGs unveils that there is a synergy between the PA and some of the SDGs. For instance, SDG targets 15.2 and 15:3 deal with combating desertification and sustainable management of all forests. These targets 15.2 and 15:3 of the SDG are related to Article 5 (2) of the PA, which emphasised sustainable forest management practices. Also, SDG targets 7:1 and 7:2 deal with the development of renewable energy. These targets have a direct link with Article 10 (1) (2) Paris Agreement which emphasised the development of technology.

The above examples show that there is a link between the PA and some key SDGs. The implication of the relationship between the PA and the key SDGs is that the achievement of the targets of the PA could lead to the achievement of related SDGs targets. So, the next question is what the likely benefits of the synergies between the PA and the SDGs are.  

The benefits of synergies between the PA and SDGs

The synergies between the PA and key SDGs present an opportunity to collaborate amongst key relevant climate change Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and SDG implementation agencies.[15] Recent development in countries like Mexico, Colombia, and Vietnam show how MDAs and SDG implementation agencies can collaborate and implement key related targets in both SDGs and PA.

In 2017, three MDAs in Mexico collaborated to implement SDG and NDC targets.[16] The office of the President of Mexico, which is responsible for the SDG implementation, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, and the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change which are responsible for the NDC support close coordination of SDG and NDC implementation.[17] Also, in Japan, there is a well-coordinated institutional arrangement of SDG and NDC implementation. Relevant institutions for the implementation of SDG and NDC are led by the Global Warming Prevention Headquarters, chaired by the prime minister, including relevant cabinet ministers.[18] In Colombia, an Inter-Agency Commission is established to implement the Post-2015 Development Agenda.[19] In Vietnam, a National Council for Sustainable Development and Competitiveness Enhancement and a working group of the Council were established. These two organisations are to address key achievable SDGs that are linked to climate change.

Again, the nexus between the PA and key SDGs will enable key climate change-related MDAs to match budgets and channel funds to key priority areas such as the energy and forest sectors. This is exactly what the Mexican government did where MDAs were requested to match budget programmes to the top priority areas of SDG and national goals.[20]

However, there are key challenges to the alignment between PA and SDGs. First, climate change instruments and the SDGs agenda have their respective histories and already established implementation agencies in different sectors.[21] This means there are likely issues of functional overlap among ministries while implementing interlinkages. Second, the alignment could lead to a trade-off with perceived unaligned SDGs.[22] This means that national governments may give less attention to SDGs that are not directly linked to climate change obligations, such as SDG 4, which talks about free education.

Despite the likely challenges, it is argued that the benefit of aligning the PA and the SDGs cannot be overemphasised. The alignment presents an opportunity for national government agencies to collaborate, and channel funds to key related targets in both PA and key SDGs. The collaboration will enable both sets of objectives to be met more quickly, efficiently, and effectively.[23] 

References


[1]L Rajamani, ‘The Warsaw climate negotiations: emerging understandings and battle lines on the road to the 2015 climate agreement’(2014) 63(3) International & Comparative Law Quarterly 721-740; L Rajamani, ‘The Durban platform for enhanced action and the future of the climate regime’ (2012) 61 (2) International & Comparative Law Quarterly,  501-518.

[2] Article 2 UN General Assembly, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change/ Adopted at the COP 21 in Paris, France, 12 December 2015 FCCC/CP/2015/L.9/Rev.1 accessed 1st April 2022.

[3] FZ Taibi and S Konrad, Pocket Guide to NDCs under the UNFCCC (ECBI 2018) 1-2.

[4] For instance, the EU and its member states committed to a domestic reduction of 40% by 2030. See Intended Nationally Determined Contribution of the EU and its Member States (2015) available at  LV-03-06-EU INDC (unfccc.int)> Accessed  2nd April 2022.

[5]Millennium Development Goals and beyond 2015 < United Nations Millennium Development Goals > Accessed 6th April 2022.

[6] However, net zero emission is possible by 2050 and most countries have updated their NDCs in line with 2050 deadline. See The update of the nationally determined contribution of the European Union and its Member States available at EU_NDC_Submission_December 2020.pdf (unfccc.int) Accessed  7th  April 2022.

[7] Paragraph 55. UN General Assembly, transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015, A/RES/70/1.; K. Shamin and R Kibugi, ‘Brief on Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Taking Action on Climate Change and Its Impacts: Contributions of International Law, Policy and Governance’ (2017) 13 McGill Journal on Sustainable Development Law 183.

[8] P Antwi-Agyei and others, Identifying Opportunities for Coherence between the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, and the Sustainable Development Goals:  The Case of ECOWAS Member States (Sustainability Research Institute School of Earth and Environment 2017) 5; The State of The World’s Forest, Forest Pathway to Sustainable Development, (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2018) 100-107, available at < http://www.fao.org/3/I9535EN/i9535en.pdf > Accessed 2nd April 2022; Climate Change and SDG Synergy Conference, Background Paper Leveraging Climate Change and SDG Interlinkages: Country Experiences (TERI School of Advanced Studies for UN DESA 2019) available at < https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/22155Background_PaperTERILeveraging_Climate_Change_and_SDG_Interlinkages.pdf > Accessed 2nd April 2022 ; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,  Climate-smart agriculture Sustainable Development Goals, Mapping interlinkages, synergies and trade-off s and guidelines for integrated implementation (Food       and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome, 2019) 84-101 available at<  http://www.fao.org/3/ca6043en/ca6043en.pdf  > Accessed 2nd  April 2022; V Masson-Delmotte,  T Waterfield and others (eds), Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty (IPCC 2018)  19 -20, available at https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/05/SR15_SPM_version_report_LR.pdf > Accessed 3rd April 2022.                

[9]  F Nerini and others , ‘Connecting climate action with other Sustainable Development Goals’ (2019) 2 (8) Nature Sustainability, 674-680 at 678.

[10] Ibid.

[11] P Antwi-Agyei and A Dougill, How best to align planning for Nationally Determined Contributions and Sustainable Development Goals:  West African Lessons (Sustainability Research Institute School of Earth and Environment 2018) 2.

[12] Ibid .

[13] Such as SDGs 1, 2, 6, 7, 13 and 15. Ibid .

[14] Antwi-Agyei and others (n 11).  

[15] M Bouyé, S Harmeling and NS Schulz , Connecting the dots: Elements for a joined-up implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit 2018) 16; Sustainable Development Goal Knowledge Platform, Global Conference on Strengthening Synergies between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Maximizing Co-Benefits by Linking Implementation across SDGs and Climate Action (United Nations 2019) at 50 available at <https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/climate-sdgs-synergies2019 > Accessed 6th April 2022.

[16]  Bouyé and others (n 15).

[17] Ibid.  

[18] Sustainable Development Goal Knowledge Platform (n 15).

[19] OECD, Opening of the Inter-ministerial Commission on OECD Affairs, Opening remarks by Angel Gurría OECD Secretary-General October 2019 – Bogota, Colombia.

[20] Bouyé and others (n 15) 48.

[21]Sustainable Development Goal Knowledge Platform (n 15).

[22] Sustainable Development Goal Knowledge Platform(n 15).

[23] Nerini and others (n 9).  

Translating collective international climate goals into adequate individual state contributions

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By Marcus Liedtke, member of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Research Group

The recent Glasgow climate conference (COP 26) once again highlighted that the international community falls far short of its ambitious collective goals set out in the Paris Agreement[1] (PA), especially to limit global warming ‘to well below 2°C’[2] and possibly 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.[3]

‘Individuation’ as a central and urgent challenge in international climate change law

A crucial but often neglected question in this regard is how to effectively translate collective international mitigation goals into adequate individual state contributions in order to ensure as far as possible that the collective goal is met.[4] Such a translation – or ‘individuation’[5] – is not only of political but also of legal importance, given that considerable voices[6]  assume that the PA’s long-term temperature goal creates a collective obligation.[7] While 2°C arguably constitute the desired minimum mitigation outcome, the 1.5°C goal forms a mere obligation of conduct.[8] Whether COP 26’s attempts to encourage enhanced immediate collective and individual state action towards closing the emissions gap and limiting global warming ideally even to 1.5°C will prove successful in practice, remains to be seen.[9]

An ‘individuation mechanism’[10] to bridge the gap between individual state ambition and the collective temperature goal should strike a careful balance between competing demands both in terms of practical effectiveness and conceptual design, especially between bottom-up and top-down approaches.[11]

Shortcomings of the Paris Agreement

The PA, recognising different national circumstances, attempts to achieve its long-term objective primarily based on bottom-up nationally determined contributions (NDCs).[12] However, despite some improvements resulting from the supplementary 2018 Paris Rulebook,[13] the current rules are insufficient to incentivise states to closely align state-level ambition with the collective temperature goal.[14] The PA especially contains only vague self-differentiation criteria[15] and does not ensure appropriate comparability, reliability and reflectiveness of NDCs, so that these tend to be self-centred and uncoordinated.[16] The transparency framework[17] and compliance mechanism[18] are unable to compensate these deficits in the bottom-up architecture.[19] The rules governing the global stocktake[20] which is to take place every five years,[21] by contrast, offer some potential to use it as an individuation mechanism.[22] This would, however, only lead to ex-post adjustments of individual state contributions and depend on the political willingness of states.[23]

Previous approaches

While the PA so far falls short of its collective goals in practice,[24] both the Framework Convention (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol (KP) at least partly effectively achieved their key targets.[25] This did, however, not result from a convincing individuation mechanism. On the contrary, the UNFCCC’s predominantly bottom-up approach[26] and the KP’s top-down emission reduction targets[27] – unlike the PA –[28] display a strong bifurcation between developed and developing countries and thus address only a small share of global emissions.[29]

Lessons from the European Union

To resolve its joint contribution under the PA into member state commitments, the European Union (EU) has to conduct a similar exercise to the one required at global level.[30] It relies upon a comprehensive legal framework to ensure adequacy, coherence and achievement of its ambitious collective and member state-level climate goals.[31] As the EU approach – balancing top-down[32] and bottom-up[33] elements of individuation – has enabled it to so far mostly effectively meet its collective targets,[34] it can in many regards inspire an individuation mechanism for the PA. Under the Effort Sharing Regulation, for instance, the collective EU 2030 mitigation target enshrined therein is broken down into individual minimum state contributions.[35] While it is upon EU member states themselves to decide how to achieve these,[36] the regulatory framework also envisages corrective action plans[37] and a critical dialogue with the European Commission on individual mitigation action.[38] Further lessons from the EU include enhanced individuation over time,[39] transparency,[40] depoliticisation of the process,[41] and well-designed flexibilities.[42]

Designing an effective individuation mechanism

A key feature of an effective individuation mechanism for the PA should therefore be a regular constructive dialogue on the consistency of the states’ individual mitigation ambition with the long-term temperature goal and more precise collective interim goals.[43] To this end, a scientific body should determine and publish a fair-share range of individual ambition in line with the collective temperature goal,[44] preferably based on the criteria of mitigation capacities, environmental integrity and intergenerational equity.[45] Another independent body should then regularly assess the adequacy of current individual contributions in that light.[46] Where states wish to deviate from its recommendations, they should publicly state their reasons to facilitate institutional, public and political scrutiny and peer pressure.[47] The constructive dialogue would thereby largely preserve the bottom-up dynamic of the PA, while creating additional top-down incentives for more regular and objective equity reflections.[48] It could thus well complement a strengthened global stocktake.[49]

Furthermore, states still struggling with capacity limitations should be allowed to use limited flexibilities.[50] To encourage also developing countries to make an as ambitious contribution as possible and avoid delaying of mitigation action, these flexibilities should, however, only be available as a last resort.[51] This would especially require that the respective state cannot deliver its full adequate contribution otherwise, even after exhausting available support which developed countries should provide as part of their fair share.[52]

Conclusion

In conclusion, the most promising way to translate collective international mitigation goals into adequate individual state contributions in order to ensure as far as possible that the collective goal is met would be a constructive dialogue between states and an independent body based on suitable equity criteria. Further refinement of the international legal framework thus seems necessary.

This blog post builds upon the author’s LLM dissertation submitted in 2021.[53]


Stifling Access to Sanitation through Privatisation of Public Facilities in Ghana: The Cases of Human Rights and Dignity

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Blog by Dr. Felix Nana Kofi Ofori, REACT Humanitarian Network, Oxford, UK. Former PhD student, Bristol Law School, UWE Bristol.

Human well-being, now and in the future, depends on a healthy environment characterised by access to safe sanitation in society. [1] This blog examines the challenges confronting majority of Ghanaians whose access to sanitation, is hindered by privatisation and limited provision of public facilities; and where these are available, they are exorbitantly expensive thereby stifling and violating the dignity and human rights of the people. [2]

Access to sanitation as a right, evokes controversies in international human rights jurisprudence compared to the conventional rights. However, it is no secret within the Ghanaian society, that majority of the citizenry in cities, regional centres, including the remotest communities of the country, lack access to sanitation. [3] Fundamentally, lack of access to sanitation is a violation of the human rights and dignity of Ghanaians; as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), [4] as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in 2010).[5] However, under Ghana’s liberalisation and privatisation agenda, which was promoted by the IMF/World Bank[6], majority of public toilet/latrine facilities in the country were privatised with a view  to enhance the efficient management and provision of services for the people. Furthermore, since all human rights are interdependent there is little doubt that access to sanitation is critical to achieving human dignity which is at the fore-front of protecting human health.[6a] [6b]

As society evolves so the ambit of rights grow to protect and promote the welfare and dignity of peoples globally, and particularly in this context, Ghana. Sanitation is crucially one area in which the dignity of most Ghanaians is violated because of the failure of successive governments to establish facilities to protect this right. [7] In its preamble, the United Nations Charter provides that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. [8] Thus, there can be no realisation of human rights without respect for human dignity; therefore, sanitation should be given critical priority by the government in allocating budgetary and physical resources to ensure that Ghanaians gain access to effective sanitation services. The duty to establish sanitation and hygiene facilities in Ghana as other countries, spans three obligations- availability, accessibility and affordability. [9] 

First, availability means that the government establishes public sanitation facilities within reasonable distance of the people’s reach; whilst, ensuring that poorer communities are not denied access to sanitation for want of paying. [10] Second, accessibility, is defined by the WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme and Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, as a standard 30 minutes time for someone to go to and return from a sanitation facility. [11] Also, it is the responsibility of the government and local authorities to ensure that children and persons with disabilities coupled with the location of the sanitation facilities do not impede access to such services. Third, affordability, as a human rights criterion, requires that “access to sanitation facilities and services be made reasonably affordable to all peoples, especially in the poorer part of cities and deprived communities of a county”. [12] Whilst the UNDP sets a threshold of 3 per cent, that by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is 4 per cent and that by the Asian Development Bank is 5 per cent respectively. [13] Despite the above established thresholds, the government and public agencies responsible for sanitation services in Ghana, continue to violate the right to sanitation; by failing, to adopt creative strategies to ameliorate any hardships pricing mechanisms impose on the people regarding access to sanitation services.

Strategically, the World Bank plays vital roles in the development of nations, especially Ghana, by offering financial and policy directions to help them improve their socio-economic services of which sanitation constitutes an integral part. Privatisation of water and sanitation services is one area in which the World Bank’s strategic guidance had created mixed consequences in Ghana. The World Bank opines that private participation in the sanitation services is beneficial to the state and its people because it introduces efficient and judicious management of services; and it secures the requisite funding to repair and maintain old infrastructures. [14] Conversely, larger parts of communities in cities and town throughout Ghana practise open defecation due to limited or non-availability of sanitation facilities. [15] The majority view is that privatisation not only stifles access to sanitation in further violation of the people’s dignity, but also breaches established obligations of governments to protect access to sanitation, as enshrined in International human rights law. [16] This resonates with the premise that economic and political expediencies coupled with national policies cannot be deployed by the government and its agencies to commit blatant illegalities concerning the implementation of privatisation agenda.

Primarily, the right to sanitation is considered as a private responsibility enjoining the individual to build his/her own latrine or pay to connect to the sewerage system; however, where individuals cannot afford to pay for this responsibility, the state has to bear this duty in two respects. First, the State should adopt the necessary measures such as tariff schemes or subsidies to ensure that services are affordable; and second, implement practical framework and enabling environment to guarantee access to sanitation. [17]

Copious evidence suggest that privatisation stifles access to sanitation which in turn undermines the human rights and dignity of Ghanaians, especially those in poorer communities, who lack the financial backing to either build or pay for sanitation services. The right to sanitation is an enshrined human right obligation of governments in the international community, including Ghana, requiring that access is protected and promoted without citing arguments of economic, social or political expediencies. Although Ghana has finite resources like other states, it is obliged to allocate portion of its budgetary resources to ensure that access to sanitation and hygiene facilities are progressively realised in accordance with international and constitutional mandates. Similarly, the duty to protect access to sanitation extends to supervising the implementation of privatisation contracts without compromising the dignity and human rights of Ghanaians.

References

[1] <www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/WaterAndSanitation/SR/Water/Pages/Progressiverealization.aspx. >Accessed December 13, 2021.

[2]Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (General Assembly Resolution 70/1, para. 5).

[3] UNICEF Ghana: “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” < https://www.unicef.org/Ghana/Water-Saniation-and-Hygiene> Accessed December 14, 2021.  

[4] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1966) UNTS, Art. 2 (1)

[5] Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, Caterina de Albuguerque, Report, Mission to Egypt, 50, UN. Doc.A/HRC/15/31/Add.3 (Jul. 5, 2010).

[6a] Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969),  Adopted May 23, 1969, entered into force on January 27, 1980, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1155,p 331.

[6b] The World Bank-FAQ-World Bank Group Support for Water and Sanitation Solutions<https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water/brief/working-with-private-sectors-to-increase-water-sanitation-access > Accessed December 14, 2021.

[7] Gould, C. and Brown, C. Sanitation Challenge for Ghana Dignified City Award (Stage 2), May 2020, IMC Worldwide.

[8] The Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice, UN, New York (1997) 3.

[9] A/HRC/45/10, “Progressive Realization of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation” Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, September 14- October 2, 2020.

[10] A/HRC/45/10, Ibid. see note 9, para. 35

[11) Ibid. see note 9, para. 37

[12] Ibid. see note 9, para. 39

[13] A/HRC/30/39, Report of the Special Rapporteur  on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation: Addendum, para. 25.

[14] The World Bank –FAQ – World Bank Group Support for Water and Sanitation Solutions < https://www.worldbank.org/en/topics/water/brief/working-with-private-sectors-to-increase-water-sanitation-access-> Accessed December 14, 2021.

[15] The World Bank, Ibid.

[16] Winkler, T.I., The Human Right to Sanitation (2016), University of Pennsylvania Journal of International, Vol.37 (4) 1331-1406.

[17] Eide, A., Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as Human Rights in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights- Textbook, 9, 24 (Asbjorn Eide, Catarina Krause and Allan Rosas eds, 2nd ed., 2001)

Alumni spotlight: Choo Dee Wei

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Guest blog by LLB alumni, Choo Dee Wei.

I commenced the LLB (Hons) degree with HELP in 2001. It was a twinning-programme with UWE Bristol. My final year i.e. my 3rd year was in UWE itself. This was in 2003. Thereafter I undertook the Bar Vocational Course and was called to the Bar of England & Wales in 2005. I was admitted as an advocate & solicitor of the High Court in Malaya in 2007.

I wouldn’t trade my learning experience for anything in the world. UWE has provided lessons both in real life and in a classroom setting.

Without it, it is doubtful that I would be where I am today.

These lessons have brought me to this moment in time. Over a decade in practice and now managing and running my own firm comprising associates, pupils, staff, paralegals and interns. That aside, it remains important and vital to continue to develop and nurture young students to become great practitioners. Hence being involved in numerous events and sessions of such nature.

Choo Dee Wei
Present: Principal of Messrs. Choo Dee Wei
Graduated: LLB(Hons) 2003, UWE BVC 2005

UWE Bristol wins Guardian Award for Equity Programme

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We were delighted to be finalists at this year’s Guardian University Awards but are over the moon to have actually won! This award means so much to everyone who’s been involved in developing and delivering the Equity Programme ever since our first pilot event in October 2016. It’s been a long and sometimes challenging journey to introduce a progressive positive action scheme like this. Working with students, local employers and national diversity thought leaders, we’ve created something which the University can be really proud of and which offers BAME students a chance to leverage leadership and enterprise skills as they embark upon their graduate careers. 

The Equity programme has 4 pillars: 1-2-1 mentoring, identity and leadership coaching, enterprise education workshops and large evening networking and guest speaker events. National statistics on the performance and progression of ethnic minorities in the labour market (as highlighted by the MacGregor Smith Race in the Workplace Review 2017) have to change and we are proud to be leading the way on the role universities can play in this regard. Finally, we want to thank every facilitator and the external guests who attend our events and enrich our student experience.

Equity evening events run throughout the academic year and are open to the public to attend. We warmly encourage alumni to consider attending the evening events to give our students networking opportunities as well as being part of the collective challenge to diversify the talent pipeline. To find out more please visit www.uwe.ac.uk/equityor email raceequality@uwe.ac.uk

Post written by Dr Zainab Khan- Equity Programme Lead

Take advantage of degree apprenticeship SME funding with UWE Bristol

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15 May 2019 15:00 – 17:00

Register here

Are you interested in upskilling your workforce and does the cost of training seem a barrier to accessing local talent?

This event provides an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from existing businesses who have apprentices at UWE, and how to make it work. In addition to this, we will be highlighting upcoming degree apprenticeships and further opportunities for your business to train your employees at degree level with the funding available.

UWE Bristol is the only university in the region with funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to support non-levy employers and has secured funding to support apprentices from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

David Barrett, Director of Apprenticeships at UWE Bristol, will welcome you to the event and alongside the Degree Apprenticeship Hub team will be able to help identify your training needs and suitable solutions.

Spaces are limited for this event, so please register below.

If you have any questions about this event or degree apprenticeships please feel free to contact Ellen Parkes.

We are looking forward to meeting you and beginning the degree apprenticeship partnership journey.

The event takes place in the University Enterprise Zone on Frenchay Campus from 15:00 – 17:00.

Register here

UWE Law Society London Trip 2019

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The UWE Law Society reports on its recent trip to visit Parliament, the Supreme Court, and The Inns of Court.

Guest post by: Sam Louwers, President of  UWE Law Society
The opinions expressed by the guest writer and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of UWE Bristol.

The 18th February began very early in the morning for 50 members of UWE Law Society who had secured places to take part in our London Trip 2019. The aim of the trip was to move 50 members to London to visit Parliament, The UK Supreme Court and attend a talk delivered by Lincoln’s Inn.

It had been the intention from the offset that all society members should feel in a position to apply for a ticket, regardless of their personal circumstances, so the price should be free. Through applications to both the faculty and student’s union enough funding was secured to pay for the coach move meaning that all were in the same position to apply for a ticket.

We left UWE at 0530 to move to Westminster, for a change a very painless journey. Once arriving the trip was split down into two tranches; one detailed to Parliament and one the Supreme Court.

Those who toured Westminster had a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of the history of the building, visit both chambers and have explained the full process of how a Bill becomes an Act. With a passionate tour guide this element was enjoyed by all and was an opportunity that many had never experienced, and I am sure that many students would have left feeling they have a confident understanding of our constitution.

Tranche 2 began their day visiting the Supreme Court. A newer building in the history of the court system, but still bathed in history from its previous role. The group had the opportunity to explore the building whilst also have its purpose and history explained to them by their tour guide. With some fantastic photo opportunities, members even had the opportunity to sit in the seat of a justice and experience the true feel of the court room. Unfortunately, Parliament were holding an emergency debate in the afternoon so Tranche 2’s tour had to be cancelled.

Then a surprise to all when we were notified that Lady Hale, President of the Supreme Court, had heard that UWE students were visiting so was giving up her lunch break to meet with us and run a Q&A session, as I am sure all readers will appreciate this is a fantastic and privileged opportunity.

Meeting with Lady Hale was an experience that many students will never experience again, but you could tell that she was more than happy to give up her time to pass her knowledge and experience onto those young minds who have a passion to progress into the legal profession.

The final part of the day saw a move to Lincoln’s Inn where we were hosted by Andrew, their outreach Co-Ordinator. Unfortunately, the talk had to be held slightly down the road in their office and conference space as the Inn itself is currently undergoing major renovations, yet still a great environment to visit. Andrew gave a talk to the society members about what the purposes of the four inns of court are, their history and how they play a key part to anyone looking to progress to a career at the bar. He also took the time to discuss the vast range of scholarships available and in doing so demonstrating that there is financial support available to those who need it.

Lincoln’s Inn also paid for Sally Anne Blackmore of Ely Place Chambers to come and talk to our members. Sally is a former UWE Alumni and prominent member of the Inn, often involved in the residential and qualifying sessions that are run. As a former Alumni Sally was keen to talk to our members about her non-traditional route to the bar and her vast experiences surrounding the profession. Not only did she inspire members she was also happy to hand out her contact details should members want to seek further guidance.

The day ended with the journey back to UWE, getting in at 2230. After a long day I think I can honestly say that every attendee was able to get something special from the day and I have taken the time to thank every element of the trip personally for making it possible. If it wasn’t through keen networking and producing a positive image of UWE Law Society this trip would never have been possible. Dr Liam Fox MP was happy to support our tours, Lady Hale gave up her time and Lincoln’s Inn gladly hosting us at their location is proof that UWE Law Society have built a positive and strong reputation in the last year. We also thank UWE Law Department and the Students Union at UWE for their kind donations, as without them we would not have been able to meet our aim of making this trip open and accessible to all and by doing so we met our equality and diversity targets.

Although coming to the end of our term as a committee I am sure that now the ground work has been laid so future committees will be able to offer these fantastic opportunities to their members also.

Sam Louwers
President
UWE Law Society

Pro bono: Student reflections from the African Prisons Project

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One of the many activities the UWE Pro Bono Unit undertakes is the African Prisons Project. The project sees UWE students assisting prisoners and prison warders during their Law studies in Uganda and Kenya. Kathy Brown has previously blogged about the project here. In this post, student Kelly Eastham provides an update on an inmates sentence.

by Kelly Eastham

It has been a long time that I have been waiting to write this and awaiting this news itself, but not nearly as long as it has been for Wilson. I am completely overwhelmed to have received news today that Wilson (an inmate from Kamiti Prison, Kenya) has been released after winning his case in the Kenyan Supreme Court. Wilson was imprisoned at the age of 19 and sentenced to death, he has since served 20 years for robbery, a punishment not proportionate to his crime.

During my time in Kenya I grew close with Wilson. I was completely amazed by his beautiful perspective on life and his motivation to help other people in his situation. Prior to working in a “death row” environment, I had always thought that these people will have nothing to live for and will become the worse version of themselves as they have no reason or motivation to turn their life around. I was completely wrong and Wilson was one of the first inmates to totally shift my perspective on this. He showed me that it is never too late to make a positive change and if you keep fighting for it anything is possible. His case in the Kenyan Supreme Court (Coram: Maraga CJ & P, Mwilu DCJ &VP, Ojwang, Wanjala, Njoki and Lenaola SCJJ) will be monumental in Kenyan history as the one which abolished the death penalty and will have a significant knock-on effect for the lives of thousands. Wilsons motivation to be a changemaker has not come from a place of selfishness but from wanting to be able to make a difference.

I was asked by Wilson to attend his trial to support him, I remember walking into the High Court and awaiting the judges decision, this decision stated that Wilson had been successful and won his case. I remember going down to the cells under the court house and spending time with him celebrating his success. I felt so emotional to have been a part of his trial and I am so blessed to have been there to support him.

Wilson and his story have inspired me so much and I am honoured to have played a small part of it. I will forever be grateful for the life lessons he has taught me and for inspiring a huge passion within me. I will be wishing him all the best in the outside world and I will be there to support him though it. 

Visiting scholar from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa shares his reflections after visiting UWE Bristol

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In December 2018, visiting scholar  Dr Windell Nortje from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa spent two weeks at the Bristol Law School. Below he shares his reflections of the visit: 

Guest blog by Dr Windell Nortje

I visited UWE between 4 and 18 December 2018. My home institution, the University of the Western Cape (UWC), in Cape Town, South Africa, granted me funding for a two-week international visit at a university abroad. I am truly grateful for the UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Research and Innovation Office for giving me the opportunity to visit UWE.

In October 2017 I started collaborating with Dr Noëlle Quénivet with a view to writing a journal article. This project turned into a book (Child Soldiers and the Defence of Duress in International Criminal Law) that has been accepted for publication by Palgrave. The manuscript is due to be submitted in March 2019. I approached Dr Quénivet in October 2018 and enquired whether UWE would be willing to host me as a visiting scholar. UWE graciously agreed. In my time at UWE I felt part of the Bristol Law School. I was warmly welcomed by Dr Quénivet, Dr Sarah Grabham, the Head of the Department of Law as well as all the academics and students.

This made my experience at UWE very fulfilling and rewarding.

The initial aim of the two-week visit was to work on the book and to collaborate with some of the academics at UWE. As it turned out, I held two guest lectures and presented my research to UWE academics. In addition, I collaborated with a number of academics with the view to writing journal articles, attended the first annual Criminal Justice Research Unit (CJRU) Lecture and importantly, also discussed the possibility of establishing a new LLM Programme between UWC and UWE. Finally, I also drafted a funding application with Dr Noëlle Quénivet for a potential writing workshop to be held in Cape Town in July 2019. I will be sharing some of the highlights of the activities above.

We are in the final stages of writing the book. Most of the chapters are completed. We are still finalising the conclusions and recommendations. Dr Quénivet had a few new books on child soldiers which I had not yet read and so I was able to incorporate some of the views of these authors in our book. Dr Quénivet and I also discussed the footnoting and referencing of the book as well as a follow-up article to be published in 2020. Dr Quénivet, being a leading expert in the field of international law, has been influential in turning the article into a book. I am grateful for her continuous support and guidance throughout the project. I would also like to thank Ms Shilan Shah-Davis and Dr Suwita Hani Randhawa for their invaluable comments when I discussed the book with them.

In a first for me, Dr Quénivet and I had the opportunity to present a public lunchtime lecture at the Bristol Central Library. This was a unique experience as we presented the lecture in the reception area of the Library and anyone was welcome to attend. The lecture entitled: “Child soldiers: Busting The Myth of their Victimhood to Better Understand who they are”, centred around the myth that child soldiers are victims only and that they should not be held accountable for their crimes. The audience found it fascinating to note that so many girls are also child soldiers since the perception is that the iconic child soldier is that of a boy. However, in some conflicts, the girls outnumber the boys. The audience, who consisted of about 20 people, had an opportunity to ask questions. I was grateful for this opportunity to discuss our work with the public as this is not an opportunity that comes by too often.

At UWE, I was invited by Mrs Evadne Grant to present a guest lecture on the International Law and Institutions module offered on the LLM progamme. The lecture, entitled: “The Fragmentation of International Law: An African Perspective” focused on the fragmentation of international law and how this has resulted in a conflict between African States and the International Criminal Court (ICC). There is no homogenous system of international law as different regulations are applied in different situations, thus a fragmented system. To explain this to the students I used the example of the concept head of state immunity within the context of Africa. The incumbent President of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, is wanted by the ICC for the commission of war crimes and genocide. He attended the African Union Summit in South Africa in 2015. During the Summit a South African Court issued an arrest warrant for his arrest. However, he was able to return safely to Sudan and is still wanted by the ICC. As a result, the ICC ruled that South Africa had a duty under the ICC Statute to arrest Al-Bashir. This was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa. In the case of head of state immunity, there are various regulations that could be applied in this case hence alluding to the fragmentation of international law. After presenting the lecture, the students had an opportunity to discuss several question posed to them by Mrs Grant. This included whether fragmentation should be regarded as a positive or negative aspect of international law. The students provided constructive feedback on the questions. In South Africa we are not used to this style of interactive lectures, even at LLM level. This was a refreshing experience for me and something that I will be considering at my institution as well.

I was also given the opportunity to present my research at the final Criminal Justice Research Unit/International Law and Human Rights Unit end of semester talk. My research article entitled “The Protection of the Identities of Minors upon Reaching the Age of Majority: Centre for Child Law and Others v Media 24 Limited and Others (871/2017) [2018] ZASCA 140 (28 September 2018)” dealt with the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgment concerning the ongoing protection of the identities of minors involved in criminal proceedings. The identity of child witnesses, victims and perpetrators when they reach the age of 18 is not protected and it is argued that this could have a damaging effect on the development of the child, depending on whether the case receives wide publicity or not. I received valuable feedback from Dr Tom Smith and Mr Ed Johnston.

I was invited by Dr Smith and Mr Johnston to attend the first annual CJRU lecture which dealt with the disclosure of evidence by the police in the Liam Allan case. It was a fascinating experience for me as this was the first time for myself, and many others, where we could hear the experiences of a former accused, his defence lawyer and the state prosecutor all in one lecture. It was clear from the speakers that the current situation in the UK needs proper reform, and hopefully initiatives such as those of the CJRU will encourage policy change. This event also inspired me to ask questions about the South African law regarding the disclosure of evidence and what lessons could be learned from the UK criminal justice system.

Regarding collaboration, Mrs Grant and I talked about the idea of creating a joint LLM between UWC and UWE in the future. We exchanged ideas and will be looking at funding opportunities to launch a new LLM between our institutions.

Lastly, Dr Quénivet and I embarked on a funding proposal to be submitted to the British Academy which would enable us to hold a writing workshop in Cape Town in July 2019. This workshop will potentially bring together leading international journal editors, UK based scholars and young and emerging African PhD students/scholars and give the emerging PhD students/scholars the opportunity to present an article to the specialist panel and receive constructive feedback on how to publish in international journals. The workshop aims not only to remedy the lack of quality publications by African scholars but also to support them more generally in their career.

In sum, my visit at UWE was an unforgettable experience which has left a lasting impact on my own emerging research profile and my development as a scholar in the field of international criminal law. I hope to see you again in the future!

 

The disclosure crisis: A suspect and practitioner perspective

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On Wednesday 5 December 2018 UWE Bristol hosted the first annual Criminal Justice Research Unit lecture on the topic “The disclosure crisis: A suspect and practitioner perspective.” The event was organised and chaired by Dr Tom Smithand Dr Ed Johnston and funded by the Centre for Applied Legal Research.

Roughly a year ago today our first speaker Liam saw accusations of rape dismissed after the police failed to disclose crucial evidence which fundamentally undermined the claims made against him. Liam gave us a very a personal account of his experiences with the criminal justice system. Jerry Hayes and Anthony Edwards each provided varied and valuable professional perspectives on the problem of disclosure. We hope that this lecture will help to promote meaningful and long term change in this area as well as furthering our goal here at UWE Bristol of research that shapes the future of organisations.

The lecture has been recorded and is available to watch online as a video, or to listen to as a podcast:

View Full video

Listen to Podcast

Liam Allan

Liam Allan is a criminology and criminal psychology graduate who was charged with rape in 2015 and spent two years on bail before his case collapsed owing to failures with the disclosure regime. Liam gave us a very personal insight into his experience and the trauma of accusation, from the moment he was arrested until the case was dropped. Liam described being made to feel that he was “guilty until proven innocent”. Liam arrived at the Crown Court charged with 13 counts of rape; days into his trial, it emerged that the police had 60,000 non-disclosed text messages containing vital information which led to the collapse of the case against him. Following these events, there was huge media interest and public outcry. Subsequently, 600 cases were dropped, 6 of which were rape cases. Since that time, Liam has continued his studies and founded the Innovation of Justice campaign, which seeks to unite organisations, lawyers and barristers, individually seeking to improve different aspects of the criminal justice system.

Jerry Hayes

Jerry was the prosecution barrister for Liam’s trial, and played a fundamental role in the discovery of the non-disclosed evidence. Jerry described some of the fundamental issues with the criminal justice system, in particular in relation to sexual offences. He argued that many members of a jury jump to conclusions in a “no smoke without fire” reaction to rape cases (something Liam suggested he had previously done, prior to his accusation). Jerry emphasised the importance of remembering that people are complainants, not victims, until a conviction or a plea of guilty. Jerry described in detail how and why the system very nearly failed Liam Allan – who would have served up to 12 years in prison and been on the Sexual Offenders Register for life. He suggested that the evidence that was withheld had been deemed “too personal” to be revealed and not relevant to the case. Yet, he argued, it was not only capable of undermining the prosecution case; it made it absolutely clear that Liam Allan could not be guilty. Jerry described Liam’s case as the worst he had seen in 41 years of practice.

Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards has been a practising solicitor for 45 years and gave us a professional overview of how disclosure should be handled to avoid major miscarriages of justice. Anthony explained some of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act (CPIA) and gave an overview of the recent Attorney General’s review of disclosure. He argued that, with sexual offences, there is added complexity and difficulty due to frequent “credibility contest” in such cases – that is, they turn on one person’s word against another. He stated that it is a routine part of defence practice to deal with non-disclosure issues; from major fraud to cases of minor assault. He suggested that poor disclosure practice undermines the criminal justice system, as police and prosecutors do not look for what is actually needed in a case. Anthony highlighted that this issue will not just go away (and not done so for decades), arguing for an enormous cultural shift from the police, the prosecution and defence, to ensure that all evidence is properly disclosed from the start. Anthony highlighted the need for an independent disclosure review process, conducted by an independent barrister, arguing that history tells us that the police nor the prosecution can or will do a satisfactory job. Anthony highlighted the related issues associated with the use of social media by parties in a case; particularly the problems of detecting and accessing such material when it stored on a third party’s account. He asked: how an accused can find such material if they do not know it exists? Anthony suggested that, with an independent disclosure counsel running the process, a significant proportion of cases that currently reach court and are subsequently dropped or dismissed by a jury would be filtered out of the system at an early stage, avoiding injustice.

Question and Answer session

We had a range of questions, some sent in advance and then opened up questions from the audience. Liam talked about how the case affected his personal life and that he was suspended from his job for 2 months. The emotional strain of the case understandably caused Liam to breakdown in court, but he also spoke about the impact on his family and friends. There was much discussion around the CPS and CPIA, whether they were fit for purpose and whether Liam was judged fairly. Anthony and Jerry gave an insightful discussion of the failings of the criminal justice system and how these failings impact genuine victims of sexual abuse. The idea of anonymity for those accused of certain types of offences was discussed by all three speakers, and the idea that it should be anonymous until a judge, because there may be other offences, directs that it should be made publicly known. There was criticism of the CPS and police using their lack of resources as an excuse for their failings, and whether this is a valid excuse or reason, nonetheless it needs to be addressed.

The entire lecture is available online here:

Full video

Podcast

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