Schedule Fall 2017 Lecture Series

Under Siege: Human Rights and the Rule of Law


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Minority Rights and the Question of Multiculturalism in Europe and Beyond

Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 2pm - HOGC 02.28 - Naamsestraat 69, Leuven

This lecture focuses on the theory and practice of minority protection and multiculturalism in Europe as well as beyond. It introduces the key theories of multiculturalism and explains how minority rights are connected to human rights. It then highlights the significant international and European legal documents dealing with minority rights.  Finally, it looks at some contemporary issues connected to minority rights: the Catalan and Kurdish referendums as well as the position of some stateless minorities, such as Roma in different European countries and Rohingya in Myanmar. 

Dr Julija Sardelić is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the KU Leuven International and European Studies Institute (LINES). Her research encompasses broader themes of citizenship and migration from the socio-legal perspective. She particularly focuses on the position of marginalized minorities and migrants (such as Romani minorities, refugees and other forced migrants, legally invisible and stateless persons).  Prior to coming to Leuven, she worked was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Law and Social Justice (University of Liverpool), a Max Weber Fellow (European University Institute) and a Research Fellow at the School of Law (University of Edinburgh.


The Emergence and Decline of the Rule of Law in Central-Eastern Europe and Post-Soviet States

DIMITRY KOCHENOV (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)
Wednesday, 25 October, 2pm - HOGC 02.28 - Naamsestraat 69, Leuven

The current crisis of the EU is not confined to the Eurozone and the EMU, evidenced in its inability to ensure the compliance of Member States, especially Hunagry and Poland, where the rule of law is being dismantled, with the principles and values underlying the integration project in Europe (including the protection of democracy, the Rule of Law, and human rights). This defiance has affected the Union profoundly, and in a multi-faceted assessment of this phenomenon, Prof Kochenov examines its history and offers possible coping methods for the years to come.

Dimitry Kochenov is Professor of EU Constitutional Law at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands. He has held fellowships and visiting professorships worldwide, including at Princeton University (Visiting Professorship and Crane Fellowship in Law and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School), New York University Law School (Émile Noël Fellowship), Osaka Graduate School of Law, Institute of Global Studies, Basel and as Visiting Chair in Private Law at the Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy. He has advised international institutions and governments including the Dutch and the Maltese and has published widely in the areas of EU constitutional law and citizenship.


The European Invention of Human Rights: Histories

Thursday, 9 November, 9am - MSI 00.08 - Erasmusplein 2, Leuven

The traditional narrative of human rights traces the origin of human rights back to medieval documents such as the Magna Charta (1215) and in particular the American and the French Revolution, when the principle of human rights was explicitly recognised, culminating in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). This view has been largely smashed by Samuel Moyn’s The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010), which bluntly argued that universal human rights only became a major source of political action in the 1970s. The debate around Moyn’s iconoclastic publication, however, is only one instance of new interpretations of human rights history, which also include questions about the origins of human rights as well as the framing of human rights as part of a narrative of progress and enlightenment. This lecture will discuss some of these debates, pausing at the uses of human rights in European history and particularly focusing on self-determination and freedom of religion. The European or Western debate will also be situated in a more global perspective, demonstrating the particularities of the European/ Western ‘invention’ of human rights.

Patrick Pasture is Professor of History and Director of the master programme in European Studies: Transnational and Global Perspectives at KU Leuven. His research mainly deals with the long-term history of Christendom and European history in a global and postcolonial perspective. He recently published Imagining European Unity since 1000 AD with Palgrave -Macmillan, and is currently working on a new book tentatively entitled Some rieties of Christendom: Church, State and Religious Freedom in the West since 1500.


Human Rights in Russia: the Case of LGBT Rights

Thursday, 16 November, 9am - MSI 00.08 - Erasmusplein 2, Leuven

Since 2013, Russia has put forward a socially conservative norms and values paradigm that challenges the EU’s normative pull in Eastern Partnership countries like Ukraine – especially when it comes to LGBT policies. The adoption of legislation on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors” and a homophobic discourse reinforced the link between state violence and homosexuality as a tool for geopolitical othering in Russia. However, also in Ukraine the difficulties surrounding LGBT activism since the signing of the EU Association Agreement illustrate that the risk of extra-judicial violence and geopolitical othering remains and in some regions has even increased. Moreover, the tension between state policies that follow European standards of respect for LGBT rights and public disapproval of this geonormative turn has grown.

Lien Verpoest is Assistant Professor at the research Group Modernity and Society (1800-2000) of the History Department of the K.U. Leuven. She studied Slavonic and East European Studies (1995-1999), and International Relations and Conflict Management (1999-2000) at the KU Leuven, Saint Petersburg State University, and Lund University (Sweden). She obtained a PhD in Political Science in 2008 and teaches several courses on Russian and Polish Politics, History, and Methodology, both on BA and MA level. Her research in general is situated on the tangent between area studies and political science, with a specific focus on the East Slavic region (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus), and covers post-Soviet foreign policy and East-West relations, more in specific the development of relations between different regional organisations and networks on the European continent.


Chinese Perspectives on Human Rights and the Rule of Law: towards a low-cost legal system?

MATTHIEU BURNAY (Queen Mary University)
Thursday, 23 November, 9am - MSI 00.08 - Erasmusplein 2, Leuven

This lecture addresses the contemporary status and actual enforcement of the rule of law and human rights principles within the People’s Republic of China. Against the backdrop of recent significant crackdowns against human rights lawyers, this lecture critically looks at the extent to which human rights and rule of law principles have shaped the development of the Chinese legal system. By deconstructing the current rhetoric of the Party-State, this lecture will present the different facets of China’s multiple-speeds legal system where the strengthening of the rule of law and human rights do function as both a condition and an existential threat for upholding the one-party rule.

Dr Matthieu Burnay is a Lecturer in Global Law at Queen Mary University of London. He has an interdisciplinary background in law, political science and history. He holds a PhD in Law from the University of Leuven and a Double MSc degree in International Affairs from Peking University and the London School of Economics. At Queen Mary, Dr Burnay teaches the undergraduate courses: Law and Globalisation as well as Chinese Law and Institutions. He also serves as Academic Coordinator for the LLB programme in Global Law and Academic Coordinator for the Association of Transnational Law Schools (ATLAS). In 2017-2018, he is also a Visiting Professor at Beijing Normal University. Dr Burnay was previously a Senior Researcher at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven. He was also a Lecturer at the University of Liege, University Saint Louis- Brussels (Belgium), as well as the Catholic University of Lille (France).


Rule of Law, Democracy and Human Rights in the Digital Age

WOLFGANG BENEDEK (University of Graz)
Monday, 11 December, 4pm - MSI 01.28 - Erasmusplein 2, Leuven



The Right to Asylum Under Pressure: Rule of Law and Human Rights Aspects

Wednesday, 13 December, 2pm - HOGC 02.28 - Naamsestraat 69, Leuven

Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are the core values of the European Union. These values should be embedded in all activities of the EU. The lecture scrutinizes whether the EU still lives as it learns, and if not, what conclusions should be drawn from the answer.

Elina Pirjatanniemi is Professor of Constitutional and International Law at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. She is also the Director of the Institute for Human Rights at the very same university. She is an expert on human rights, as well as asylum and migration law, and on the relationship between human rights and criminal justice. She also holds a title of Docent in Criminal Law at the University of Turku, Finland. Her publications cover several areas of law, with a particular emphasis on human rights, migration and criminal law. Elina Pirjatanniemi is a member of the EIUC Board of Administrators.


Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in International Law

Monday, 18 December, 11am - DV3 01.25 - Tiensestraat 41, Leuven

Contemporary campaigns against modern slavery, forced labour and trafficking are mobilising considerable amounts of human and financial resources without paying much attention to the legal underpinnings of the terms used. Concepts have become conflated in official reports, policy papers and scientific research, a situation that is leading to a broadening of the meaning of legal terms, to the creation of new terms and, more worryingly, to definitional confusion. This lecture provides an overview of the definition of these matters in international law. 

Magaly Rodriguez Garcia is Assistant Professor in History at the research unit Modernity and Society 1800-2000 (MoSa) of the KU Leuven.