Tag Archive | "ABILA Conference"

Critical Analysis: Environmental Threats to Human Security and International Law’s Response

Coping with climate change will be one of the most significant challenges the global community will face in the coming years. (The ICJ Project)

Coping with climate change will be one of the most significant challenges the global community will face in the coming years. (The ICJ Project)

International Law Weekend-West was held the weekend of February 2nd at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  The conference addressed a number of issues that should be on the forefront of the minds of all international lawyers who seek to address threats to human security.  The first panel’s topic (“Environmental Threats to Human Security and International Law’s Response”) dealt with a contentious issue not often associated with threats to human security: climate change.  This panel had three speakers; two focused specifically on the effect deforestation will have on human security, and the third speaker broadened the perspective to address how climate change will impact society as a whole.

The first speaker, Professor Richard Finkmoore of California Western School of Law, explained that deforestation must be stopped because (1) it will exponentially increase the effect of total climate change on the human race through increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and (2) it will reduce the world’s capability to compensate for the increase in the GHG emissions.  Deforestation not only affects the globe through an increase in the amount of carbon released through burning, but also because forests are among the world’s best carbon sinks and carbon reservoirs.  According to Professor Finkmoore, forests absorb one-third of all GHG emissions that come from the fossil fuel sector; it is estimated that the forests store twice as much GHG as is currently in the atmosphere.  Therefore, if the forests are burned not only will the globe be less able to absorb the carbon, but a vast amount of additional carbon emissions will occur, thereby accelerating the rate of climate change.  Consequently, Professor Finkmoore argues, the focus should shift from reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels to ensuring that the forests all over the world are not burned down.

Given the strong effect deforestation will have on climate change, the next logical question is what the international legal community is doing to address the issue.  The second panelist, Professor Annecoos Wiersema of the University of Denver, addressed one of the legal initiatives proposed to address deforestation.  This international initiative is called RED+, or the  Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation and the Role of Conservation Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Sinks.  RED+ resulted from discussions that began when Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea raised the idea as a suggestion to reduce climate change and protect their forests.  However, despite the promising name of RED+ there is still much to be done before it can actually be implemented.  The primary drawback to RED+ is that it is a very comprehensive and technical initiative, which means development is difficult and implementation will take a long time.  Current RED+ discussions are focused on how RED+ should actually be implemented, with the two primary options being either through an international regulatory framework or through national volunteer efforts.  Consequently, the legal framework to address deforestation and the implementation of RED+ is still in the beginning stages.

Given the uncertainty of RED+ implementation, the last speaker, Dr. Anita Halvorssen of the University of Denver, broadened the scope of the issue to address the impacts climate change will have on human security, specifically focusing on human security risks due to migration from fast and slow onset climate changes.  Under current refugee laws, people who immigrate are not granted refugee status unless they fled their home countries in response to specific fears of persecution.  Immigration as a result of climate change is not sufficient to receive refugee status.  Consequently no legal framework exists to address the issue of human security and the consequences of migration as a result of climate change.  Therefore, Dr. Halvorssen argued, the laws need to be modified or a new legal framework must be developed to address this emerging group of migrants who lack legal protection.

The panel discussion stressed the need for greater understanding of the relationship between human security and climate change.  These fields of law are becoming ever more important as the climate continues to change, and international lawyers would be wise to take an increased interest in these issues and the means to address them.

Katelin Knox is a 2L and a staff editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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UN Global Compact

Human Security, International Law, and Corporate Social Responsibility

On March 2nd, Douglas Scrivner, adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and former General Counsel of Accenture, spoke at the 2013 Western Regional Conference of the American Branch of the International Law Association. Mr. Scrivner’s talk, entitled “Human Security, International Law, and Corporate Social Responsibility,” focused on various tools that companies can use to align their business strategies to minimize adverse human impacts related to a company’s operations. Mr. Scrivner focused on one such tool, the UN Global Compact, which many companies currently utilize to achieve goals in the area of corporate social responsibility.

UN Global Compact

UN Global Compact – Popular With Companies the Whole World Over?

The UN Global Compact (Compact) encourages companies to commit to ten principles within their “sphere of influence . . . in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption.” Companies that choose to participate in the Compact are required to incorporate the Compact’s principles into their business strategies and to communicate their progress in implementing those principles to company stakeholders on an annual basis.

While the Compact ultimately aims to benefit societies at large, it also provides a variety of benefits for participating companies. For example, the Compact offers participants a wide variety of resources to help solve common challenges in the areas of sustainability and human rights. Participation in the Compact also enhances a company’s reputation by demonstrating a commitment to the Compact’s principles. Mr. Scrivner noted that companies are more apt to realize the value of company participation in the Compact when shareholders and stakeholders provide the impetus for a company to participate in the Compact.

Mr. Scrivner stated that the Compact is not without its opponents. Some companies have voiced concerns that participation in the Compact could have negative impacts on a company’s bottom line. Opponents specifically cite that the Compact’s requirements could change in the future, foisting additional responsibilities onto participants of the initiative. In fact, the Compact originally consisted of only nine principles, and in 2004, added a tenth principle, to combat corruption.

Mr. Scrivner countered such criticism by stating that the Compact allows flexibility for each participating company to decide how it will implement the Compact’s principles. Additionally, since the Compact is completely voluntary, participants can withdraw from the Compact altogether if they feel compelled to do so. However, Mr. Scrivner stated that with the growing importance of the Compact, it is prudent for companies to become actively engaged in the Compact to help drive and shape it.

With over 10,000 participants in 130 countries, the Compact is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative, and the Compact’s popularity seems to be growing. In 2011, 1,861 companies joined the initiative, a 54% increase of the Compact’s 2010 growth figures. As more companies realize the value of participating in the Compact, the Compact’s ultimate goal of establishing “a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labor standards, the environment and anti-corruption” does not seem too far off.

Lincoln Puffer is a second year law student at the University of Denver and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy.

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Promoting Human Security by advancing Human Rights

Human Security and Human Rights Panel Discussion

Promoting Human Security by advancing Human Rights

Promoting Human Security by advancing Human Rights
(Action Aid)

On March 2, 2013, the American Branch of the International Law Association held its Western Regional Conference on International Law and Human Security in the 21st Century.  The conference was held at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in Denver, Colorado.  The third panel of the day was on Human Security and Human Rights.  The chair of the panel was Professor James A.R. Nafziger.  The speakers were Professor Upendra D. Acharya, Professor Claude d’Estree, and Professor Linda A. MaloneMr. Andrew Reid served as the panel discussant.

Professor Nafziger received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and his J.D. from the Harvard Law School.  Professor Nafziger currently serves as the Thomas B. Stoel Professor of Law and Director of International Programs at Willamette University College of Law.  He is also Honorary Professor at the East China University of Politics and Law.  Professer Nafziger’s presentation for the conference was entitled Immigration Through the Lens of International Law.  The presentation focused on how international law helps us overcome the nearsightedness of immigration law.  Professor Nafziger stated that immigration is more than just a hot topic at the top of the U.S. national agenda in Washington D.C. but it is also a major focus in security and human rights.

Professor Acharya holds a S.J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School; an LL.M. from the University of Utah College of Law; an M.C.L. from the University of Delhi, India; and an LL.B. from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal.  He is currently a Professor of Law at Gonzaga University School of Law.  Professor Acharya’s presentation for the conference was entitled Human Rights and Human Security: Consonance or Dissonance?   The presentation focused on answering the question of whether human rights and human security are the same thing and if they are complimentary to each other.  The current situation and statistics from Libya were of a particular focus.

Professor d’Estree is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, and he received his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.  He is Director of the Human Trafficking Clinic, the Center on Rights Development, and the Humans Rights Degree Program at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.  Professor d’Estree’s conference presentation was entitled Forced Labor and Human Trafficking: the Return to the Old Scourge of Slavery.  The focus of the presentation was on forced labor a.k.a. slavery, which is still practiced around the world today with about 20.9 million people currently serving as forced labor.  This is also a problem in America with between 14,500-17,500 people traded across the American border annually.  He also discussed the causes, conditions, and cures of the forced labor and human trafficking crisis.

Professor Malone received her B.A. from Vassar and her J.D. from Duke.  She is currently the Marshall-Wythe Foundation Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Human Security Law Center at the College of Willam and Mary School of Law.  Professor Malone’s conference presentation was entitled The Responsibility to Protect Civilian Populations.  The presentation discussed the legal norms on the responsibility to protect, which includes the prevention of crimes against civilians, and the difference between the responsibility to protect vs. humanitarian intervention.  There was a particular focus on the difficulties in Syria.

Mr. Reid received his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma and, in addition to his current trial and appellate advocacy, he teaches as an adjunct Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  Mr. Reid began by noting that no one who had spoken during the day had defined human security, the topic of the conference.  He noted that though there are many factors to human security it basically comes down to two things – freedom from fear, such are war and death, and freedom from wants, such as food, shelter, and the ability to participate in government.

Sarah Emery is a 2L and is the Business Editor of the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy.

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