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Participatory Trade Politics in West Africa: An Interview with Award-Winning Silke Trommer

At the beginning of this month in San Francisco, Dr. Silke Trommer – who happens to be a very good friend of mine – was awarded the ISA (International Studies Association) 2013 International Political Economy Section Best Dissertation Award. A book based on her thesis entitled Transformations in Trade Politics: Participatory Trade Politics in West Africa will be published in the Routledge Global Institutions Series this summer.

Silke’s book presents some important implications for global governance approaches to trade policy-making and here she offers a taste of her work and some connections between trade-policy, global governance, and questions of justice. 9633wqzkafrsxn

Kirsten Fisher: Let’s start at the beginning. What question or problem does your work attempt to resolve?

Silke Trommer: West Africa, or the rather the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has been in the process of negotiating a trade agreement under the name of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) since 2003. (more…)


Call for Applications: Investigation of the Impact of International Criminal Tribunals on Media, Political Discourse

To help with a worthy project, I’m aiding in the disseminating of this call for applications. Please direct all inquiries and communication to the relevant persons listed below. This call for applications is posted on behalf of Professor Klaus Bachmann, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland.

Call for Application:

The University of Social Sciences and Humanities is calling for applications to contribute to a project that aims to investigate the impact of international criminal tribunals on media, political discourse and institutional reform in the countries, which are affected by these tribunals’ decisions. The project is funded by a grant from the Polish National Center of Science.  (more…)

Summer Schools for Human Rights and Legal Studies — 2013

As summer approaches, it’s time to consider a great use of a week or two to acquire a higher level of expertise on a particular subject matter, meet and learn from experts in the field, and become acquainted with others from around the world who also have the same particular interest in a specific topic – summer school programmes.

Years ago, I attended a fantastic Summer School on International Criminal Law, offered by Leiden University, at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies (the Hague). (more…)

Invisible Children in Uganda: the Other Face of Kony 2012.


Almost a year ago, Kony 2012 went viral. Kony2012 was a YouTube short aimed at awakening awareness in Western youth to Uganda’s recent 20 years of mass atrocity. The video brought new attention to Uganda; warlord and International Criminal Court indictee Joseph Kony; and the YouTube short creator, American NGO Invisible Children. As fast as this attention intensified from nothing to a worldwide phenomenon, it fizzled. But, before it did, academics and practitioners globally condemned the video as unconstructive, obfuscating, dangerous, and a publicity grab for the head of Invisible Children, Jason Russell. I also had my say.

What went unnoticed in this pandemonium in the spring of 2012 was the fact that although Kony 2012 might have been misguided, the NGO Invisible Children Uganda may do good work in northern Uganda helping the conflict-affected region recover from its years of assault. It is also expanding its operations into the Congo with a reception centre for demobilized child soldiers. IC is, at least, considered in good esteem by many people on the ground in Gulu.

Having heard little of Invisible Children in the past 8 months, I was surprised to see Jason Russell on Ugandan national news earlier this month. (more…)

First ICC Not-Guilty Verdict: Expectations and Failure to Convict

On 18 December 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) acquitted Congolese warlord Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of the war crimes and crimes against humanity for which he was prosecuted. Naturally, some are angry about the verdict. But what does the verdict really say about the Court? And what does the anger say about expectations of it?


This case was the second in the 10 year history of the Court to reach a verdict. (more…)

Unreasonable Conditions on Britain’s Support of Palestine’s UN Bid?

Britain claims it is prepared to support Palestine’s bid to be recognized as a state at the United Nations if Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, pledges not to pursue a case against Israel for war crimes committed in Gaza. Britian also demands that peace talks are resumed.

A political carrot (of the carrot and stick variety) in support of peace talks seems reasonable, but what of the condition that Palestine promises not to attempt to pursue judgment by the International Criminal Court or International Court of Justice?

The Palestinian bid for non-member observer state status at the United Nations is expected to go to vote on 29 November 2012. This bid follows an unsuccessful Palestinian bid to join the UN as a full member state in 2011 because of a lack of support for the bid by the Security Council. (more…)

Whither the Palestinian U.N. Bid?

The current escalation of conflict between Israel and Gaza will no doubt enter discussions about the Palestinian bid for non-member observer state status at the United Nations that is expected on 29 November 2012.

Suggestions are that the current violence will negatively affect the bid.

Even prior to the current bout of violence, Israel and the U.S. adamantly opposed the possible recognition of Palestine as a state – the difference between permanent observer status (which it presently has) and non-member observer state status (to which Palestine currently aspires).

This bid for the Palestinian observer state status follows an unsuccessful bid to join the U.N. as a full member state in 2011 because of a lack of support for the bid by the Security Council. The process to gain non-member observer status is simpler: a vote by the U.N. General Assembly, therefore eliminating the possibility of a veto in the Security Council. For states to be admitted as full members in the U.N., an application makes it to the General Assembly for consideration only after the Security Council considers it. Any recommendation for admission as a full member must receive the affirmative votes of 9 of the 15 members of the Security Council, provided that none of the Security Council’s 5 permanent members with veto power (China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.) vote against the application. Before this escalation of violence, it was generally presumed that the Palestinian bid would be successful in the G.A. vote, despite the U.S. influence that was starting to provoke some back-peddling by countries such as France that had supported the bid but recently voiced concern about the risks of supporting it in the face of U.S. opposition. (more…)