Monday, October 22, 2007

Why the Catholic Church should mind its business

The Catholic Church tries to conquer the hearts of some people by raising its voice on social issues such as housing and employment. In Italy, this move has been greated with appreciation by the moderate and extreme left wing parties. Here's a report.

But the political position of the Church remains deeply ambiguos: "The essential point is again made by Benedict XVI: from Jesus there comes “full respect for the distinction between, and independence of, what is Caesar’s and what belongs to God”. The Church has a “mediated” task while the “immediate” one falls to the lay faithful. Thus “if on the one hand it acknowledges it is not a political actor”, on the other “it cannot avoid taking an interest in the good of the entire civil community” by “forming in the political and entrepreneurial classes a genuine spirit of truth and honesty”.

In many ways, this position is not healthy at all in a secular democracy. The Church has the luxury of taking strong positions on very controversial issues without ever having to be accountable for them. In short, this is the worst form of demagogy.

Of course, it is very nice to say permanent jobs for everyone and housing for everyone. But unfortunately there is shortage. Political institutions make hard choices between job protection and enhancement of the market. But the problem is: if the job protection is too strong, then it wil be much more difficult to create new jobs. So what looks like a nice ideal, may turn out to be a damning precept.

What is worse is that the Church can say whatever it pleases anyhow it will never have to do the job. That is the reason why, the Church should truly and definetely concern itself only with spiritual matters. It can intervene, as it does, to improve social conditions on a daily basis. But it cannot engage in sweeping policy debates as this is totally outside of its realm, and makes hard choices even more unpalatable for governments which are already facing tough enough social dilemmas.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Brown and the EU Treaty

Gordon Brown and the EU are two distant planets. But Brown should speak more clearly about it. Recently asked about the new treaty he defined it as a modest piece of housekeeping.

This is not correct. The treaty born out of the abortion of the more pompous sounding constitutional treaty keeps intact most of the institutional and procedural reforms of the previous treaty minus the symbolic constitutional talk.

But the promised reforms are still beefy and certainly not modest as Gordon claims.

The explanation is the following: Brown is not an EU supporter. But he fears even more the possibility of a referendum, which he would very probably lose as the british are hard to convince on EU matters and also because Brown does not believe in it anyhow.

Brown should speak up more clearly and take a clear position vis-a-vis Europe (and regarding his grand political views). Otherwise, he will always sound false.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New Blog on International Law

Have a look at this new blog on International law. It is called International Law Observer and covers a fairly broad ground!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

UNESCO study on the Migrant Workers Convention (ICRMW) in Europe

While I am on the subject of shamelessly plugging my own work, I might as well mention this report, commissioned by UNESCO and co-authored by myself and Ryszard Cholewinski, on the prospects for ratification of the ICRMW. Here's the blurb:

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the most important international treaty on the rights of migrants, has not yet been ratified by any European country. This report analyzes the reasons behind the non-ratification. It presents the findings of detailed, UNESCO-commissioned reports into the status of the Convention in seven countries: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and Norway. Based in part upon interviews with major migration stakeholders in each country, this study addresses issues such as general awareness of the Convention, political or parliamentary action with regards to it, and the main obstacles to its ratification. It also examines the Convention in relation to the highly developed legal and political system of the European Union overall. Finally, it offers recommendations for future action to increase support for the ratification of the Convention.

Any and all constructive comments welcome!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New volume on international migration law

This volume, International Migration Law: Developing Paradigms and Key Challenges, edited by Ryszard Cholewinski, Richard Perruchoud and myself, has just been published by Asser Press, and was launched last Thursday at the Georgetown University Law Center.

The volume looks to provide a comprehensive overview of the "field" of international migration law, developing some key themes identified in a 2003 collection edited by Chetail and Aleinikoff, entitled Migration and International Legal Norms, and also indentifying some areas of emerging significance. It consists in six broad sections: state sovereignty and responsibility (including chapters on migration-related aspects of terrorism legislation, detention, and multiple nationality); trade and labour migration (with contributions on, amongst others, GATS Mode 4 and remittances); forced migration (looking at the law relating to refugees and internally displaced persons, and the compensation claims tribunals); human rights (with chapters on migrant workers, migrant women, trafficking and statelessness); regional free movement regimes (in Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean); and emerging issues (informal cooperation mechanisms, biometrics and the new EU Borders Code). It brings together works both by established academics, practitioners and younger scholars who have already made a contribution in their respective fields. It will, we hope, be both accessible to students and non-lawyers alike, whilst also being substantial enough to be of use to academics and practitioners already expert in their fields.

Available now in all good bookshops! Well, on Amazon, anyway...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Should the Peace Nobel prize go to politicians?

I do not think so. To select a man that represents a party is never a good idea. Al Gore, some may say, defends an environmentalist agenda, not a party.

First that agenda is not based on rock but on sand. It may turn out to be solid sand or friable rock, but we do not really know for sure.

Second, Gore is still eligible to run for the US presidency. This may not be realistic, but a small window remains open. I find it less than desirable to openly support someone who may still have big personal/political interests.

Finally, it is unclear what are the real merits of Al Gore. Is he a good movie director/actor? Well then, he already got an Oscar for that. Is he making ground-breaking scientific discoveries? No we can set this aside. Is he communiticating efficaciously an important political message? Yes! And so what? That is the bread and butter of all good politicians. It does not follow that they deserve a Nobel prize for that reason

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Natalia Alvarez, fields of work and research interests

I would like to introduce myself to the bloggers. My name is Natalia Alvarez and I am currently working as lecturer at University of Aberdeen, Scotland. My field of interest are international law, legal theory and human rights. I am researching in the field of violence, legal subject and international law, and I am also participating in a research project on indigenous peoples in Latin- America. My approach to international law is "critical" in the sense of focusing in the unnamed angles of the discipline. These elements can be concepts (violence) peoples (indigenous peoples, women) or places ( Latin-America, Africa) If you are currently working in any of these aspects, I will be happy to hear from you.

Me gustaría presentarme a todos y todas los que participáis de una u otra manera en este blog. Mi nombre es Natalia Alvarez y trabajo como profesora en la Universidad de Aberdeen, Escocia. Estoy interesada en el ámbito del derecho internacional, teoría jurídica y derechos humanos. Mi trabajo de investigación se centra en los aspectos de subjetividad jurídica, violencia y derecho internacional, y en estos momentos estoy colaborando en un proyecto de investigación sobre pueblos indígenas en América Latina. Mi aproximación al derecho internacional es "critica" en el sentido en el que implica una referencia a los aspectos no-nombrados (o anónimos, si lo preferís) de la disciplina. Estos aspectos pueden ser conceptos ( violencia) personas ( pueblos indígenas o mujeres) o lugares ( América- Latina o África) Si estas trabajando en estas áreas, tus sugerencias o aportaciones son bienvenidas.

Welcome to Natalia Alvarez, our new blogger!

Natalia is Lecturer in Law at Aberdeen University, Scotland, UK.

She specializes in International Legal Theory and is particularly interested in Human Rights issues in South America.

She brings a wider perspectives on the Americas than we previously had. In addition, she brings linguistic diversity as she will contribute both in English and Spanish.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Vest for Old Blog

Hope you like this new vest for our blog. Any feedback is welcome!


... is a blog on Jurisprudence based in Scotland.
Worth having a look for those of you who are interested in legal theory and various
other scholarly issues.

Gordon Brown's New Clothes

Apologies to all our readers for the long summer break due to logistic problems for most of us.

Let's go back to business with a very interesting piece on Gordon Brown's real identity as a politician by Jonathan Freedland on the NYRB.

Gordon, after his first 100 days in power, emerges as a skillfull prime minister who has grand plans on domestic and International politics.

Personally, I have no doubt about his policy skills. The open question which is tellingly not addressed concerns the place of the UK in Europe. More to come on GB's views on Europe...