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Centre for Law, Justice and Society

Events and seminars

Small States matter – what matters for Small States

Professor Petra Butler, Professor of Law, Victoria University Faculty of Law, New Zealand

Dr Nicole Pierce, Senior Lecturer, DMU

19 May 2021

Small states make up the majority of United Nations member states. They are incredibly diverse, with greatly varying sizes, populations, economies, natural resources, and vulnerabilities. Within the Forum of Small States at the United Nations, the population of member states ranges from less than 10,000 to more than 10 million. The unofficial category of ‘small states’ includes some of the most and least developed nations in the world, resource-rich and resource-scarce countries, and both island and landlocked states. Given this, the priorities and perspectives of small states can be as diverse as their characteristics. However, they are united in facing the same challenges due to their size in comparison to large states. Conversely, small states often offer some important insights important for larger states.

The presentation will explore two diverse areas of law from a SIDS perspective. Professor Butler will showcase her recent work on domestic violence in Samoa and the challenges faced by women under a thematic purview of Human Rights in SIDS.  Dr Pierce will then present her work on two case studies of commercial law reform in the CARICOM region focusing on insolvency law reform and regulated credit reporting regimes for these SIDS.

Professor Petra Butler undertakes research on human rights issues and on issues pertinent to international commercial law, often in the context of small states research. Currently one of her research projects focuses on Indigenous Solutions: Enabling Cultural, Religious and Legal Approaches to prevent and redress domestic and family violence in Samoa (funded by the German Government). Professor Butler is also Director of the Institute of Small and Micro States (ISMS).

Dr Nicole A. Pierce undertakes research focused on commercial law reform in Commonwealth Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).  Her current research projects and forthcoming monograph, 'Commercial Law Reform in the CARICOM Region' (Springer 2021), highlight the problems encountered by regionally linked SIDS in relation to commercial law reform. Dr Pierce is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Small and Micro States (ISMS).  


'Dark Design' in Social Media: Autonomy and Freedom of Expression

Dr Konstantinos Kalliris, Essex Law School, University of Essex

4 May 2021

Every day, millions of people engage in debates on the internet. Social media platforms increasingly act as regulators in this context: they decide what can or cannot be said on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular websites. The recent elections in the United States revealed the significance of these platforms if one wants to be heard in a way that is both direct and far-reaching. Decisions to ‘flag’ or remove posts caused widespread reactions, even on the grounds that the electoral result could be affected. What is particularly interesting about these interventions is that they were mostly choice-friendly: for example, users could still see ‘flagged’ posts by means of a simple click. This is reminiscent of nudges and choice architecture: people are directed towards specific choices non-coercively, without suffering any losses in terms of autonomy – or so their proponents claim. For law and policy, the most important emerging issues concern freedom of speech and opinion. Are social media platforms restricting freedom of speech by silencing or negatively assessing specific posts or users? What about the right of users to receive information and form opinions? Is choice architecture of this kind less objectionable than more direct measures, such as bans? What is the role of social media platforms as regulators of public debates? These issues will be discussed with reference to philosophical accounts of autonomy and free speech, as well as examples from current practice.   

Dr Konstantinos Kalliris undertakes research which focuses on the tension between law and freedom, especially in the context of paternalism and perfectionism. He is also working on the study of criminal justice systems, organised crime, and corruption, and on a current project which explores the effects of cuts to legal aid in England and Wales (funded by the British Academy).

Law, Race and Decolonial Thought in UK Law Schools: Presences, Absences, Possibilities and Hope  

Dr Foluke I. Adebisi, Bristol Law School, University of Bristol   

18 November 2020

Because law and race shape each other in powerful ways, the nature and causal factors of racial inequalities are often transformed, hidden in plain sight, legitimised or obscured by the supposed neutrality of law. Nevertheless, apparently race-neutral laws and policies have racially disparate results in almost every sector of society – education, employment, welfare, housing, criminal justice, to name a few. These disparities are compounded when examined under an intersectional lens. Legal education, broadly defined, is the study of the world, human societies and their order. Very often a vital aspect of this social order – the co-dependency of race and law – is left out of the teaching, learning and research of law. It is argued that legal education should be dedicated to examining how law and race are co-constitutive. Any attempt to end racial disparities without questioning, confronting and dismantling the complicity of law is an exercise in futility. The presentation situates itself within the wider context of the decolonisation of education. It also considers the role of the foregoing against a much wider background of neo-liberalisation and marketisation of higher education in the United Kingdom.   

Dr Foluke Adebisi works in the areas of African studies, positionality and the implementation of human rights, education, intersectionality, equality and diversity, decolonisation movements, critical race theory.  She has recently published in the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, International Community Law Review and the African Journal of International and Comparative Law.

 Bridging the spaces in-between: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and strategic litigation 

Dr Manoj Dias-Abey, Bristol Law School, University of Bristol   

18 November 2020

A new generation of small, agile and confrontational unions are making important gains for migrant workers in the UK. These unions use strategic litigation, such as seeking employment status for ‘gig economy’ workers, to promote their political work. This presentation argues that litigation serves an important function in cohering a unified identity in a diverse and multiracial workplace, which is a necessary component for labour solidarity. 

Dr Manoj Dias-Abey conducts research in the areas ofwork, migration, and political economy, and how social movements devise innovative forms of regulation to govern global value chains. He has recently published in International Journal of Labour Law and Industrial Relations, Australian Journal of Labour Law, and the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. 

Food insecurity in international law and governance: critical discourses of technology, modernisation and indigeneity in law and policy relating to food security 

Online Workshop: 8 July 2021

This workshop aims to provide a space for researchers, policy practitioners and interested colleagues to explore tensions in how international law and governance mediates food security by establishing a network of interested scholars for future collaborations and discussion. A selection of the workshop papers will be invited for full submission for a special journal issue of Fordham International Law Journal, or similar. With this in mind, proposals are invited for full papers or discussion papers from any discipline that engage with issues relating to food security. PhD research students are welcome to submit proposals for a dedicated session on current doctoral research. Topics may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Discourses of security and insecurity in international law
  • Critical perspectives on technology, techno-optimism and traditional knowledge and food production
  • Critical perspectives of indigeneity and food security embodied in law and governance
  • The political economy and political ecology of food
  • Globalisation, sustainable development, and food security
  • Interconnections between women, development, and food security 
  • Critical perspectives on ‘sustainability’ and food security
  • The ethics of food security
  • International trade and its impact on food security
  • Intellectual property rights, food security, and human rights
  • Food sovereignty and food scarcity
  • Historical perspectives of food security

Please use this link to submit your 200 word abstract and brief biography by 8 May 2021. For more information or to discuss your paper, please contact Dr Kate Cross