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International Institutions

The financial crisis and its aftermath have brought to light the crisis of European integration, more precisely the crisis and potential demise of a certain approach to integration pursued since the early 1950s. The demise of an allegedly inevitable ‘ever closer Union’ pursued primarily in a technocratic way predates the turmoil which started in late 2008. The escalating struggle between European institutions and member states, buttressed by the rise of popular distrust, seems to emerge as one of the biggest challenges to European integration. dev aidIn development cooperation, an area of ‘shared’ competences between the EU institutions and the member states, it has remained unexplored how economic recession, the sovereign debt crisis, austerity, the struggle in the eurozone and increasing Euroscepticism have affected the relationship between the EU and its member states. EU aid has undeniably been affected. Significant cuts to bilateral aid budgets due to the consolidation of public finances have reduced member states’ willingness to pool further resources and competences in Brussels. Instead, member states have shown an increasing tendency to operate on their own or in like-minded groups, and focus on inward-looking aid policiesdriven by national interests and priorities.

This question is a little provocative so a clarification is in order. There is a distinction between whether a war is just (jus ad bellum) and whether it is being conducted in a just manner (jus in bello). In the case of IS it is incontrovertible that there is just cause for war. I have argued elsewhere that what is happening in IS occupied territory is attempted genocide. This legitimises military intervention, especially since the Iraqi government has requested help. What I wish to examine here is whether this war is being conducted justly. Just war theory provides us with several principles that limit what is morally permissible in war. There are two principles that give us cause for concern when assessing the intervention against IS: proportionality and non-combatant immunity. The first of these is the idea that the means of war must be proportional to the ends. Soldiers should aim for victory, but this does not mean that victory can be pursued by any means necessary. There must be, to use Michael Walzer’s term, an ‘economy of force’ (Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 129-33). A general should not waste the lives of his soldiers in a bloody offensive when there are more economical means to victory. He should not resort to tactics that will produce longstanding bitterness and prolong the war (such as taking no prisoners).
Image of woman in a crowd holding a sign that reads "we need action not words".

Each of the 125 leaders attending the New York climate summit last week has been given four minutes to speak to the world. They (or their aides) may well have dipped into the climate literature to add scientific ballast to their speeches. But they may not be as familiar with the vast array of academic studies on effective communication about climate change. They should be. If world leaders and climate advocates really want to improve the chances of mobilising political will and citizen action behind a new deal, they will need to think carefully about what sort of key messages actually work. Clearly there is a balance to strike between doom-ridden messages and “bright-side” opportunities, and uncertainties around the science and the expected effects of climate change must be factored in too. Can risk language help?

The appointment by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a special commission to investigate Israeli actions during the latest war in the Gaza Strip seems to confirm the skepticism with which that organization is held by many people in North America and Europe. The UN Human Rights Council replaced in 2006 the UN Human Rights Commission. Unfortunately, the change in name was not followed by a change in attitude. The obsessive concentration on Israel, at the expense of many other countries where human rights are flagrantly violated, is not the exclusive purview of the UN Human Rights Commission, to be sure. The UN in general tends to devote more time to Israel than to any other country; so much so that one wonders if Israel did not exist what would the UN do with so much spare time left.

In her book Statecraft, published in 2002, Lady Thatcher wrote, “The blunt truth is that the rest of the European Union needs us more than we need them.” We may soon learn how true Maggie’s words are. In the United Kingdom, some of the most prominent businessmen, journalists, and academics are trying to convince Britons that a British exit, or “Brexit,” would be a disaster for their country. In the rest of the EU, a Brexit does not seem to be a sensitive issue; in fact, many continental pundits seemed happy to see Britain leaving the last European Council with a bloody nose after the fight about Jean-Claude Juncker. Will the EU be better off without Great Britain? Or will a Brexit herald the fall of the EU?

The violence and despair of the militarised and exclusionary immigration policies of ‘Fortress Europe’ have been well documented. Institutionalised racism combines with an openly hostile bureaucracy of ‘paper walls’. In the UK Home Office, officials are encouraged through a perk system that awards shopping vouchers to officials who decline the highest number of asylum applicants per month. In Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent, Matthew Carr (2012: 120) describes the immigration-media nexus in the UK as a ‘mutually reinforcing consensus between governments, the media and the public that invariably depicts immigration as an endless crisis [and undocumented migrants as] dangerous and dehumanised invaders massing outside the nation’s borders’

St Antony’s International Review (STAIR) is proud to announce the publication of its 19th issue, “Thinking Beyond the State: Emerging Perspectives on Global Justice”. The launch event will take place on 17th June 2014 at 5 p.m. in the Department for Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. More information on the event can be found here. In this issue, we ask, how should processes of neoliberal globalisation make us think about global justice beyond the state? There are broadly two possible approaches to this question. First, we might turn from the state to supra-national state institutions. Second, we might think beyond state institutions as such. The academic global justice debate has tended to focus on the first approach. With this issue we intend to broaden the debate by taking seriously the potential of non-statist political and social movements to address global injustices.

Neoliberal institutional and economic reforms have attracted substantial scholarly attention in recent decades, but the role of law in the neoliberal story has been relatively neglected. ‘Understanding neoliberal legality’ was the subject of a day-long conference I organised at Oxford in June, which was generously sponsored by the Department of Politics and International Relations. The event drew together 40 established and emerging academics from across the UK and as far away as Canada, Finland, and Australia. These scholars have been independently researching various aspects of the role of law in the construction and contestation of neoliberalism. Many are members of major research networks in political and legal studies, such as the Institute for Global Law and Policy based at Harvard Law School, and edit prominent sites of scholarly discussion such as the debuting London Review of International Law. The questions and dilemmas animating the meeting included the following: • What form does law take under neoliberalism and to what extent is this new and different? • What role do the content and form of law play in shaping the economic, political, and ideological pillars of the neoliberal project? • What are the implications of these shifts for the ways in which neoliberalism is negotiated and resisted?