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Colonial Wrongs, Double Standards, and Access to International Law

Yangon, 16-17 November 2019

Programme | Concept note (OPS No. 9 (2019))Book Double Standards: International Criminal Law and the West |

This international expert meeting is part of a series of events on colonial wrongs and double standards that are being planned together with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and others. Subsequent events are planned to take place in several former colonies. An anthology will be published with papers from the meetings. 

The Yangon meeting is based on the publication ‘Myanmar, Colonial Aftermath, and Access to International Law’ by Morten Bergsmo, which serves as the concept note of the meeting. Wolfgang Kaleck’s monograph Double Standards: International Criminal Law and the West (also published by the Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher) is important background reading for the project. The programme document contains abstracts of the conference papers.

The Yangon meeting contains two main parts: a segment of case studies, and a general part. There will be case studies on the Belgian-dominated area in the Great Lakes Region, Kenya, Myanmar, Namibia as well as the Sami and Roma peoples in Norway. The colonial (or similar) wrongs on which the project is focused is conduct that could amount, in contemporary terms, to core international crimes as defined by the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The case studies will focus on colonial wrongs that have lingering, negative consequences today, and how measures taken after the colonial period ended – including international(ised) criminal justice and reconciliation measures – have not fully addressed related grievances in affected populations.

The second, general part of the Yangon meeting considers a) relevant patterns identified by the case studies; b) the extent to which contemporary international law addresses lingering consequences of colonial wrongs; c) the risks of double standards and related perceptions in affected populations; d) wider implications of such risks for the Third World Approaches to International Law movement and legitimacy of international law; e) whether traditional truth and reconciliation mechanisms are adequate to address lingering grievances linked to colonial wrongs; f) important elements for a new tool that could be used to address such grievances, including ensuring the participation of relevant expertise in the listening to, analysing of, and otherwise engagement with the grievances through consultation or other processes; and g) the relevancy of legal notions such as subjugation, reoccupation and continuing core international crimes.

The Yangon meeting is organised by the Centre for International Law Research and Policy (CILRAP) in co-operation with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (Berlin), China University of Political Science and Law (Beijing), Centre for Diversity and National Harmony (Yangon), the Institute for International Peace and Security Law (University of Cologne), and Maharishi Law School (New Delhi).

If you wish to submit a chapter for the consideration of the editors of the anthology, please send an e-mail with an abstract to [email protected] by 1 February 2020.  

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