Extended Lecture Series on “Alternative Approaches to International Law”

Extended Lecture Series by Weera Centre and Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth

We are pleased to announce that Weeramantry Centre for Peace, Justice and International Law and Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth have joined hands to conduct a year-long extended lecture series on the theme “Alternative Approaches to International Law”. The rationale for having this series is the popular discontent with the mainstream outlook toward international law. As is well known, there are grave issues of justice and human rights that the world is trying hard to cope with. But quite often, such efforts pale when they encounter hard realities of power structure implicit in the working of international law.

We hosted brilliant scholars and international law practitioners who were kind enough in taking out time and discussing the issues in the given background. In total, we organised eight talks with participants joining in from several countries. Abstracts of the discussed ideas can be found below:

Lecture 8

Neshan Gunasekera

Neshan Gunasekera is an educationist and international lawyer from Sri Lanka. He is committed to bringing communities together for environmental protection, healing, and conservation using intergenerational, holistic, and experiential learning. He contributes to several organizations at the international and national levels. He is a Councilor of the World Future Council, Member, Steering Committee, Ecological Law and Governance Association (ELGA), Member of the Education Commission of IUCN, Director, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and Co-Convenor of the Earth Trusteeship Working Group.  

As a close former associate of Judge Weeramantry and his partner in mission, Mr. Gunasekera was perhaps the best choice to remind us of the world that Judge Weeramantry envisioned in his lifetime. In 2020, He was also awarded the prestigious H.E. Judge C.G. Weeramantry International Justice Award for his contributions as the former Director of the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research (WICPER 2007-2013) and continuing efforts for the furtherance of international justice, Peace and Sustainable Development.


Remembering the Legacy of Judge Weeramantry

Lecture 7

Dr. Paul Arnell

Dr. Paul Arnell is an academic within the Law School, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. He has degrees from Canada, England and Scotland, graduating with a Ph.D. in law from the University of Hull in 1999. He has lectured in both England and Scotland, joining his present employer in 2001.

Dr. Arnell has researched extensively into the areas of extradition, criminal jurisdiction and human rights. His monograph, Law Across Borders, was published by Routledge in 2012. He has published over 100 articles on his areas of expertise. His articles have appeared in a range of publications including the International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Commonwealth Law Bulletin, International Journal of Human Rights and the Criminal Law Forum. His invitations to speak have included those by the Academy of European Law, Judicial Institute for Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates on extradition and international criminal justice.


The UK and International Human Rights in the post-Brexit Context


In recent times international law has increasingly come to be understood in ways inimical to the modern Western conception of the subject born in the years following the Second World War. An aspect of this development is found in the UK’s approach to international human rights.
Brexit and human rights, a UK Government-sponsored review of the Human Rights Act 1998 and its approach to certain human rights-related issues in Scotland and Northern Ireland support this view. In his lecture, Dr Arnell described and analysed these three manifestations of the regressive and illiberal approach now being taken to international human rights by the UK.

Lecture 6

Prof. Mohammad Fadel

Mohammad H. Fadel is a Full Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, which he joined in January 2006. Professor Fadel wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on legal process in medieval Islamic law while at the University of Chicago and received his JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. Professor Fadel was admitted to the Bar of New York in 2000 and practiced law with the firm of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York, New York, where he worked on a wide variety of corporate finance transactions and securities-related regulatory investigations. Professor Fadel also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Paul V. Niemeyer of the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and the Honorable Anthony A. Alaimo of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. Professor Fadel has published numerous articles in Islamic legal history and Islam and liberalism.


Religion, International Law and Human Rights: an Islamic Perspective


Theological ideas have been closely related to political conceptions of legitimacy from the beginning of recorded human civilization. Whether this is a necessary feature of political thought or a mere artifact of human history is, of course, a matter of debate. As long as religion continues to be a salient part of human civilization, however, religious ideas will inevitably influence political ideas. Accordingly, it becomes important to consider the role of religion in supporting international law and human rights. This lecture will discuss classical Islamic conceptions of international law, and its promise in contributing to a just and peaceful international order.

Lecture 5

Prof. Manoj Kumar Sinha

Professor Manoj Kumar Sinha is the Director of the prestigious Indian Law Institute, New Delhi and Vice President, Indian Society of International Law. He looked at the varied aspects of climate change from the human rights perspective. Till recently, the debate around climate change has focused on its environmental dimensions. But basing its foundations on the Inuit Petition in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Malé Declaration and Bali Climate Change Conference, the talk attempted to go beyond that ceiling and evaluate it as a human rights issue.


Climate Change and Human Rights: The Unexplored Terrains

Lecture 4

Professor Federico Lenzerini 

Professor Federico Lenzerini is Ph.D., International Law, and Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the Department of Political and International Sciences of the University of Siena, Italy. He also teaches at the St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami. Along with being a consultant to UNESCO, Professor Lenzrini is also the Rapporteur of the International Law Association’s Committee on the Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Post-Covid 19 International Law and Multiculturalism

Lecture 3

Professor Sanoj Rajan

The third lecture on 16 December 2020 was delivered by Professor Sanoj Rajan, Distinguished Professor of International Law and Human Rights at Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, China. He is also among the Founding Governance Board members of Statelessness Network Asia Pacific (SNAP) and was the co-coordinator for the core group of experts who founded SNAP, which is a UNHCR initiative involving 50 countries in the Asia Pacific region.


Statelessness Arising out of Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality and Persecution: An Irrefutable Link


Rendering a person stateless can have devastating and long-lasting consequences, restricting an individual’s ability to participate in society and severely curtailing their political, civil, economic or social rights. Making an entire population stateless, however, based on their religion, ethnicity, or identity, is arguably an act of persecution and can often lead to crimes against humanity such as torture, enslavement and extermination. However, the links between making an entire population stateless and crimes against humanity of persecution have often been overlooked. The talk explores the nexus between the two issues, arguing that the arbitrary deprivation of nationality to a large population is itself a crime against humanity of persecution and is illegal under international law. The talk begins with an examination of the nature of statelessness, before moving on to a discussion on how the statelessness arising out of arbitrary deprivation of nationality invariably leads to crimes against humanity. The talk concludes with a suggestion to amend the definition of the crime against humanity of persecution under the Rome Statute to act as a deterrent for future violations.

Lecture 2

Dr. Daniel Rietiker

Lecture 2 by Dr. Daniel Rietiker took place on 27 November 2020. Dr. Rietiker is an adjunct professor of public international law at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) and teaches human rights law at Suffolk University Law School (Boston, MA). He also serves as the co-president of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.


Humanization of International Law: The Example of Arms Control


International law has traditionally been considered as applying mainly between sovereign States. There was only limited space for the needs and interests of the human being. In the same vein, arms control has long been considered, above all, a matter of States’ security and only little attention has been paid to the victims of weapons. The overall picture of disarmament, in particular nuclear disarmament, is however very disappointing. Therefore, new avenues have to be tried out. The speaker will offer an alternative approach, placing the human being at the centre of the discussion, based on his book “Humanization of Arms Control, Paving the Way for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons”, Routledge 2017/2018). He will argue that the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), concluded in New York on July 7, 2017, is a recent example of this “humanization” of arms control. He sees another confirmation of this new trend in the adoption by the UN Human Rights Committee of General Comment no. 36 on the “Right to life” (October 30, 2018), of which paragraph 66 is devoted to weapons of mass destruction. He will expand on these developments.

Report of the second lecture can be found here.

Lecture 1

Dr, Celine Tan

First talk in the series was delivered by Dr. Celine Tan, Reader in Law at University of Warwick on the topic:

Towards A New Architecture of International Public Finance in the COVID-19 Era


The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly resetting the international development agenda. There is an urgent need to massively scale up resources needed to tackle both the immediate health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic and the longer-term recovery measures once the crisis abates. This is much more acute for developing countries that have entered the pandemic in much more fragile and perilous economic conditions. However, despite an initial flurry of financial commitments and early but limited initiatives on sovereign debt relief, traction on global coordinated action appears to have slowed considerably. This presentation will examine how the challenges to mobilise international financial relief for developing countries in the COVID-19 era is based on the problematic governance and regulatory shortcomings of the international architecture for public finance and what steps we should take to reform this architecture to better respond to crisis and enable sustainable development.

Report of the first lecture can be found here.

The lecture series was organised by:

Nizamuddin Ahmad Siddiqui (Coordinating Member, Weera Centre)

Sreenath Namboodri (Assistant Professor, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth)