Post by Caroline Macpherson
On 2 November 2012, 9 Bedford Row International, Middlesex University and BCL Burton Copeland held a conference – Revolution in the Air – at Chatham House, London, to discuss important issues regarding international criminal and humanitarian law, policy and the role of third party states, the EU and the UN, and the rise of new legal principles such as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
The conference was moderated by Mark Ellis, the Executive Director of the International Bar Association (IBA) and legal advisor to the defence team of Nuon Chea at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
Opening the day, Sir Tony Baldry MP discussed recent developments of international criminal law within a historical context, addressing the various topics to be discussed throughout the day. For him, the fundamental question facing the international community today had regard to the role of the UN Security Council: “How can one have a system of international law which is based on the UN Charter and based ultimately upon UN Authorisation for Intervention, if the key body within the United Nations – the Security Council – has become completely dysfunctional and where members of the Security Council put their own national interests, such as Russia and Syria, before their global responsibilities?”
Tim Stew addressed the UK’s Response to the Arab Spring, discussing specifically the various policies that his department is adopting and attempting to implement in the MENA region. Gillian Higgins and Sir Tony Baldry MP sat on the panel.
Shannonbrooke Murphy, one of the few legal scholars specialising in the positive law of the human right to resist, gave a thorough exposé of the right to rebel and its interpretation under various legal instruments including Article 20(2) and the right to resist in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The panellists were Sir Tony Baldry MP; Professor Joshua Castellino, the Dean of Middlesex School of Law; and Gregor Guy-Smith, defence lawyer at the ICTY.
Mouaz Moustafa gave an impassioned account of the situation in Syria, which he has witnessed with his own eyes in his capacity as Senior Political Director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force.. The panellists were Sir Tony Baldry MP; Michael Drury of BCL Burton Copeland; and Shannonbrooke Murphy.
Clive Baldwin discussed one of the newest concepts of international criminal law, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in his talk, Revolutions, Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect. The panellists on his talk were Colleen Rohan, defence lawyer at the ICTY, and Professor William Schabas of Middlesex University, one of the leading academics in international criminal law.
Professor William Schabas considered the meaning and concept of “revolution” in his talk on Proportionate Responses in Revolutions. Panellists on his talk were General Sir Jack Deverell who addressed the difficulties relating to Command Responsibility and Toby Cadman, 9BRi, who discussed proportionate response in relation to Syria.
Dr Amrita Mukerjhee, Leeds University, discussed the role of UN and regional bodies monitoring in Syria by the UN Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-OHCHR), and the offices of special procedures of the Human Rights Council in her talk on Monitoring Revolutions. The panellists were John Cammegh from 9BRi and Brian Spiro from BCL Burton Copeland.
In Revolutions and New Constitutions, Professor Joshua Castellino addressed the difficulties and intricacies attached to the drafting of constitutions. The panelists were Clive Baldwin and David Young, 9BRi and Defence Counsel at the STL.
Steven Kay QC, the head of the International Practice Group at 9 Bedford Row, wrapped up the conference touching upon all the talks which preceded in his speech After the Revolution Comes Justice. The panellists were Shannonbrooke Murphy and Robert Murtfeld, who is currently researching his Ph.D at SOAS in London.
Two films were shown during the afternoon, Law of the Jungle and The Magnitsky Files. They were followed by lengthy Q&A sessions with Michael Christoffersen, director of the former, and Bill Browder, the director of the Hermitage Fund who employed Sergei Magnistky.
Video material from the event will be available on the 9BRi YouTube channel soon.