Author Archives: AnnaG

Seminar series

LawTransform, together with our collaborators, host a number of ongoing seminar series on a wide variety of topics:

Queer Lawfare Seminar Series

To mark the celebration of 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in Norway, LawTransform will run, throughout 2022, a seminar series focused on queer rights activism in different contexts. While fighting for the recognition of rights, activists have to develop strategies and adapt to complex political landscapes and sometimes even face persecution and repression.

BarnevernsfrokostWebinar series on Child Protection Services and Children’s rights
The Child Protection breakfasts are a series of webinars on Child Protection Services and children’s rights. The child welfare breakfasts are arranged once a month in Norwegian.
This seminar series is a collaboration between LawTransforms Child Rights unit, Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism and Bergen kommune – Etat for barn og familie.

Breakfast for Democracy #BFFDemocracy
Once a month, the Democracy and Law Research Unit hosts the Breakfast for Democracy (#bffDemocracy) seminars. In the series they discuss current events in world politics in light of research on processes of democratisation and autocratisation. This is a seminar series organised by the research project ‘Breaking BAD’ in cooperation with Bergen Global.

MenneskerettighetsbyenBergen as a Human Rights City
In June 2019, the City Council of Bergen unanimously voted to become Norway’s first Human Rights City. While the local government attempts to spell out what such a label entails, this seminar series will investigate the many human right challenges that exist in Bergen. Topics that will be explored varies from tourism to urban planning and groups of people who face different challenges.
This seminar series is a collaboration between LawTransform, the Rafto Foundation, the Church City Mission (Kirkens Bymisjon), CMI, the University of Bergen and Bergen Global.

Abortion rights lawfare
Across the world we see fierce contestation over abortion rights. Battles for and against women’s rights to reproductive choice rage in courts and legislatures, in electoral campaigns and on the streets. The idea of this webinar-series is to address some key ongoings regarding the subject, considering the main role that law and politics play on the availability and the quality of these rights, including abortion, access to information and sex education.

Students in crisis
Students play an important role when it comes to finding solutions to the greatest challenges of our time, yet they have taken an unproportional part of the burden during the pandemic. This is the common starting point when UiB Collaboratory and LawTransform join forces with the Bergen School of Global Studies and Bergen Global for a seminar series on how COVID-19 has affected and affects students, and will continue to do so in yet uncertain ways in the future.

Transitional Justice in Norway and Beyond
This seminar series will address some of the key questions within transitional justice in a local and global perspective. Transitional justice is an important part of rehabilitation, state- and peace-building after conflict. However, it can also be part of a society that is recovering from a repressive regime or going through regime change. This is a collaboration between LawTransform, CMI, the University of Bergen and Bergen Global.

The RDV seminar series
Bi-weekly research seminars (online) on Law, Democracy and Welfare. The seminar series is a collaboration between the Research Group Law, Democracy and Welfare at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Center for Research on Discretion and Paternalism (UiB) and the Lawtransform Child Rights unit. Seminars are announced at and open for everyone interested. To receive an invitation to the RDV-webinar, contact

Master’s week
LawTransform Master’s Week is a week with public seminars/webinars in January every year where former master students, who are part of the centre’s student group, have the opportunity to present their master theses. There is also a closed session for those who are still developing their theses to discuss their work in progress and receive comments and feedback. LawTransform is lucky to have many bright and committed students around! They put a lot of effort into writing great master’s theses while also organizing seminars that make the centre an inspiring place to be. We therefore have all the reason to celebrate it with an entire week of seminars/webinars.

Bergen Exchanges 2020

The Bergen Exchanges will take place from 14-21 August 2020 and will be on a smaller scale than non-Covid19 years with 2-3 sessions per day in the afternoons. The main focus will be on Law & (In)equality – in cities, democracy, migration & knowledge, gender, child rights and natural resources and climate change. All events will also be streamed online at Bergen Global’s YouTube page.  The program is available here.

We are delighted to be organising events with the Global Research Programme on Inequality (GRIP), Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism, and the Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority Setting (BCEPS), and with the support of UiB Global Challenges (GSU), the Norwegian Research Council, the Rafto Foundation, Fritt Ord, and Bergen Municipality.

If you are interested in attending, please email

If you are interested in volunteering, click here.


The Bergen Exchanges is a meeting place for scholars and practitioners from across the globe who seek to understand how law serves as an instrument of change – and how it shapes and is shaped by power relations. During a week of public discussions, we examine strategic uses of rights and law and how legal institutions function as arenas for political contestation (lawfare). Read more about the history and motivation behind the Bergen Exchanges here.


The Bergen Exchanges will take place in Bergen, Norway from 14-21 August 2020. The main events venue is at Bergen Global, Jekteviksbakken 31. You can attend the seminar physically at Bergen Global (limited places) or watch the seminars online.

Please note that according to corona virus regulations all participants must keep a distance of at least one metre from each other and maintain good hand hygiene. Your name and phone number will be registered and kept for 10 days. If you have any respiratory tract symptoms you should stay at home.

According to the infection control measures, we need to have an overview of who is present at all times and thus kindly ask all who plans to participate to sign up beforehand via this link:

For more information about travel and the city of Bergen, see here.

PhD course

Alongside the Bergen Exchanges, we run a PhD course on the Effects of Lawfare. The course runs from 10-21 August. For more information, see here. To learn more about the PhD course, here is what happened in 2019.

Project workshops 

Alongside the events of the Bergen Exchanges, there are also project workshops for our active and developing projects . The workshops bring together researchers working on the projects for two days of discussions and presentations. The projects will host public sessions to present the ongoing project findings during the Bergen Exchanges.

To get in touch

For more information, please contact LawTransform director Siri Gloppen ( For information about the PhD course, contact Giedre Casaite ( If you would like to volunteer at the Bergen Exchanges, contact Alida Steigler (

Events streaming

You can find links to all the LawTransform events that we have streamed below. For all events streamed at Bergen Global, please visit their YouTube channel.

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01.19 Paths for recognising LGBT rights in Latin America: the cases of Brazil, Colombia and Costa RicaWatch here

01.28. Academic Freedom and Democratic Backsliding in Comparative PerspectiveWatch here

02.03. Repeal abortion crime: a new path in the fight for legal abortion in ColombiaWatch here

02.04. Samehets og rasisme – hvordan kommer vi videre?Watch here

02.05. Annual Lecture on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesWatch here

02.18. Students in crisis: Corona measures under examinationWatch here

02.18. Book launch: Strategic Litigation and the Struggle for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Equality in AfricaWatch here

02.19. Menneskerettighetsby og smittevern. Hvor går grensen?Watch here

03.08. Women on the Bench – The role of women judges in fragile statesWatch here

03.08. The Right to Water in National Constitutions – Master’s Week 2021Watch here

03.08. Looking for dialogue and recognition: transgender persons’ rights – Master’s Week 2021 – Watch here

03.11. Venezuela migration crisis: can Peruvian health system sustain it? Master’s Week 2021Watch here

03.11. Selection methods of judges – Master’s Week 2021 – Watch here

03.12. The dark side of combatting terrorism – Master’s Week 2021Watch here

03.12. Mandating inclusiveness: local actors and mandated governance networks – Master’s Week 2021Watch here

03.22. Climate activists in all arenasWatch here

03.22. Elevating water rights to human rights: World Water DayWatch here

03.24. Executive Order webinar with director Lázaro RamosWatch here

03.25. When a crisis hits: Vulnerable people in locked-down BergenWatch here

04.09. A taste of life under President ErdoganWatch here

04.21. Global School Film & Reflections: InequalityWatch here

04.28. Global School Film & Reflections: MigrationWatch here

05.05. Global School Film & Reflections: HealthWatch here

05.05. Byutvikling og arkitektur: Har menneskerettigheter noe å si?Watch here

18.05. Ansvarlig næringsliv og Vest-Sahara: Vestland ett steg videre?Watch here

19.05. Book launch: Adoption from CareWatch here

03.06. Towards a better understanding of gender and genocideWatch here

07.06. Amazoning Climate GovernanceWatch here

18.06. Backlash against Women’s Rights and the Istanbul ConventionWatch here

16.08. Keynote by Ruth Rubio Marin: The Global backlash against women’s rightsWatch here

16.08. How to quota? Effects of legislating for equality of representationWatch here

16.08. Keynote by Dan Brinks: Autocratic LegalismWatch here

16.08. Autocratization dynamics in AfricaWatch here

17.08. Book launch and keynote by Marit Skivenes: The global typology of child protection systemsWatch here

17.08. European Court of Human Rights on Child protection and Children’s RightsWatch here

17.08. Rethinking digitalization and the right to education post-COVID-19Watch here

17.08. Backlash against academic freedomWatch here

17.08. Religious/conservative movements and fake newsWatch here

18.08. Addressing Sexual Violence: Technology and Truth CommissionsWatch here

18.08. Migrant Health in the pandemicWatch here

18.08. Keynote by Alicia Yamin: Rethinking health systems beyond the pandemicWatch here

19.08. Keynote: Criminal Insanity – Medical, Philosophical and Legal PerspectivesWatch here

19.08. Young people as Experts by Experience: Participatory Research, Policy-,and Service DevelopmentWatch here

19.08. Learning law & social changeWatch here

20.08. Gender, Islam and Legal ordering in Post-US AfghanistanWatch here

20.08. Women on the BenchWatch here

20.08. Interview: Lunch with the judgeWatch here

20. 08. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 3 and 12: opportunities and challengesWatch here


01.10. Constitutional Interpretation: The Multiplicity of ActorsWatch here

01.10. The Impact of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco ControlWatch here

02.06. Annual LectureWatch here

02.10. The Quality of Life Agenda in Norway – Master’s Week 2020Watch here

02.12. Bits Before Bombs: Cyber-attack as a Breach of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter Watch here

02.25. Fri rettshjelp – en illusjon?Watch here

04.02. Barn i lock-down: Utfordrer korona-tiltakene barns rettigheter?Watch here

04.30. Webinar: Trick or treat? Why do legal responses to Covid-19 differ across Europe?Watch here

05.27. COVID-19: The situation of refugees and migrantsWatch here

06.11. Grassroot climate activism – from Paris to the AmazonWatch here

06.17. Covid-19 and the Politics of Climate Governance in the AmazonWatch here

09.24. EU-borgere; likhet for loven? Watch here

10.09. Taushetskultur og politi-varslere i Vest: Hva koster det å være en politivarsler?Watch here

10.14. Fires in Moria – law, migratory policies and asylum in LesvosWatch here

10.28. Women mobilising against violenceWatch here

11.03. Launching the Bergen School of Global Studies Watch here

11.03. Barnevernsfrokost: Omsorgsovertakelse av nyfødteWatch here

11.10. Towards a new debate on abortion law reform in Argentina?Watch here

11.20. Abortion Backlash! The significance of 22nd October 2020 for Poland and the worldWatch here

30.11 Peru renewed political crisis: What happens next?Watch here

02.12. Barnevernsfrokost: Til barnets beste – familieliv for barnevernsbarnWatch here

04.12 Divine Intervention: The role of the Pentecostal Church in Democratic Backlash in AfricaWatch here

10.12. Human Rights Cities explained – why do we need them?Watch here

10.12. Netthets mot kvinner – en trussel for demokratietWatch here

2020. Bergen Exchanges

Friday 14 August

Monday 17 August

Tuesday 18 August

Wednesday 19 August

Thursday 20 August

Friday 21 August



03.15. Gender quotas on the rise – polarization or parity?Watch here.

03.18. How to clean an electionWatch here.

09.23. Justice done? How Cambodia is dealing with its pastWatch here.

10.09. Breakfast seminar: Politics of corruption in Brazil and PeruWatch here.

11.25. Indigenous reconciliation and land rightsWatch here.

12.03. Playing with the rules in the extractive industries sectorWatch here.

2019 Bergen Exchanges

Monday 19 August

Tuesday 20 August

Wednesday 21 August

Thursday 22 August 

Friday 23 August

Photo credit: Green Chameleon, Unsplash LawTransform Courses

One of the core LawTransform’s activities is using knowledge produced by research projects based at the centre to improve courses taught at the University of Bergen.

Our project Effects of Rights & Law has allowed us not only to improve courses taught in Bergen but also in partner institutions by facilitating the exchange of scholars and students. Moreover, we have been able to use our annual event, the Bergen Exchanges to produce teaching materials made available at our webpage with the goal of reaching out to a broader audience.

On this page you will find the course program and reading list for several courses at different levels as well as teaching materials produced by experts to work as independent modules to be used as part of courses on related topics.

Photo credit: Green Chameleon, Unsplash

Bergen Exchanges 2019 Program

This program is under development and will be updated. For a downloadable program, click here.

Monday 19 August
Corruption and Law

  • KEYNOTE: Louise Shelley Natural Resource Corruption – How to research and address it?
  • Bergen as a Human Rights City – Rights to the City
  • Political corruption and corruption as a political tool
  • Corruption in court

Tuesday 20 August
Indigenous Rights

  • KEYNOTE: Rachel Sieder Indigenous rights as political tools – struggles over land and identity
  • The Sami truth commission in a comparative perspective

Wednesday 21 August
Research Methods and Ethics

  • Research methods in socio-legal studies
  • Project presentations: Methodologies and findings
    • Researching sexual and reproductive rights lawfare, drivers of politicization and health effects of criminalization
    • Researching Backlash Against Democracy (Breaking BAD)
  • Methods workshops
  • Lunching with Judges: Ruth Rubio-Marin in conversation with judges on their path to and experiences on the bench, part of the ‘Women on the Bench’ research project

Thursday 22 August
Natural Resources and Climate Change Lawfare

  • KEYNOTE: Leo Heller (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Water) The human right to water as a governance mechanism and political tool
  • Climate change governance: global regimes, national interests, local norms
  • Environmental rights in court

Friday 23 August
Law and Technology

  • Law & Technology
  • Robot judging – threat to legal protection, or democratising access to justice?
  • Aadhaar and Social Credit  – challenges of regulating privacy
  • War on facts and responsible evidence appraisal in research for policy
  • Towards BeEx2020: Equality law and intersectionality
  • Innovative teaching on law and social change: student perspectives (part of the INTPART project)

Preliminary Findings

Initial findings from the project “Political Determinants of Sexual and Reproductive Health: Criminalisation, health impacts and game changers”

The project investigates health effects of criminalizing sexual and reproductive behaviour and health services, and analyses the political dynamics that drive, hamper and shape the uses of such criminal law in nine African countries, including both  predominantly Christian Sub Saharan countries (Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa) and North African Muslim countries (Sudan and Tunisia). Within each group there are countries with a long tradition of abortion on demand as well as countries where it is strictly criminalized – and on homosexuality the cases range from Mozambique, where same-sex relations were legalized in 2007 to legal provisions for the death penalty in Sudan.

The project aims to develop insights into political game changers that can improve conditions for sexual and reproductive health. Global health actors have sought to push for de-criminalisation of abortion and same sex relations but external pressure seems to trigger local resistance and backlash, and once abortion and homosexuality become politicized, public health evidence seems to have little traction among legislators and policy makers. And even when laws change, health policies, services and outcomes often do not. An effective de-criminalisation agenda requires better insights into the political and social dynamics – inside the health system as well as outside – and the proposed project aims to contribute to filling this gap.

Study investigating attitudes to homosexuality

A study investigating attitudes to homosexuality between and within African countries based on available survey data found that 8 in 10 Africans express anti-gay attitudes, but that:
law matters. People are less anti-gay in counties where same-sex relations are decriminalized and longitudinal data show that decriminalization is followed by decline in homophobia
religion matters. Anti-gay sentiments increase with religiosity. At individual level, there are small differences between denominations, but where overtly homophobic religions are strong (Evangelicals, Conservative Islam) more people of all beliefs are anti-gay.
poverty matters. Populations of poor countries are more anti-gay, as are the poorest segments within each country. At individual level, education is strongly associated more liberal attitudes.

Different attitudes across our ten case countries

Donor-supported LGBT rights activisms, triggered backlash in Zambia in 1998 (with claims that homosexuality is a Norwegian conspiracy). Activists switched to a health strategy, piggy-backing on HIV/AIDS programs. But our survey of 600 Zambian policymakers (parliament and local council candidates) cast doubt on the effectiveness of health framings. The vast majority opposes programs for LGBT even when presented with data on the high HIV rates.

Senegal was traditionally tolerant of goor-jiggens (men-women), but when the LGBT movement developed as part of HIV/AIDS programs for men who have sex with men (MSM) sexuality came center stage, triggering homophobia.

‘Closet activism’ (movement building, sensitization) is common in harsh conditions, such as in Sudan, where activists fear backlash from a homophobic society and a regime that codifies sodomy as a crime against God.

Kenya’s constitutional drafters included sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination, and triggered mobilization by conservatives who brought in a clause defining marriage as a union between adults of the opposite sex. Judges attitudes to homosexuality has become a focus in appointments. But legal strategies remain central and have brought advances.

Criminalization and politicization may have severe effects on mental and physical health. A survey of 1000 LGBT in Ethiopia found that sexual- and mental health problems were their main concerns, yet mental health is rarely a focus of MSM programs.

Findings from Kenya echo this: Criminalization and politicization creates fears that affect health seeking behavior. Non-use of services, non-disclosure, misdiagnosis; and poor data for needs assessment in turn impact design and implementation of health programming and the availability of acceptable, efficient services.

Liberalization of abortion

Abortion liberalization does not automatically bring health benefits. In Tunisia abortion laws have been liberal since the 1970s, but resource constraints have reduced access.

Ethiopia made abortion more accessible in 2005. Substantial gains are made, but barriers remain due to restrictive social norms and low awareness.

Political leadership was key when South Africa (1995) and Mozambique (2014) decriminalized abortion, despite resistance to universalization of access, providing autonomy to women’s choice. How conscious objection is understood by health care workers, is a focus of ongoing work.


PhD-course Leaders:

Siri Gloppen is Director at the Centre of Law and Social Transformation. Political scientist with a research focus in the intersection between law and politics. Siri Gloppen is Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen. With a research focus in the intersection between law and politics her work spans legal mobilization and the role of courts in social transformation, democratization and institutionalization of accountability structures, constitution-making, election processes, human rights, transitional justice and reconciliation. Her main empirical focus is southern and eastern Africa.

Camila Gianella (MSc, PhD) is a researcher at CMI and a post doctoral fellow at the department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen in the project Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) Lawfare: Global battles over sexual and reproductive rights, driving forces and impacts, Dr. Gianella is also part of the team of two related project: Abortion Rights lawfare in Latin America and International Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare. Gianella has a PhD from the University of Bergen.  In her dissertation she analyzed the process of implementation of a structural court decision from the Colombian Constitutional Court which asked for major reforms within the health system. Prior to her PhD from the University of Bergen, Camila worked as researcher and consultant for projects on maternal health, the right to health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, mental health and transitional justice.

PhD-course Coordinator:

Lara Côrtes is a Brazilian lawyer currently working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institutt (CMI) for the project Elevating Water Rights to Human Rights: Has it strengthened marginalized peoples’ claim for water? Based in Bergen since 2012, her previous experience at CMI has involved participation in several projects within the institute’s Angola Programme, with a particular focus on Angolan media. Côrtes has also been attached to the University of Bergen (UiB), first with a temporary position as associate professor for the course Brazilian studies and Portuguese language, and later as a researcher for the project POLAME: Poverty, Language and Media: the cases of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico.

Centre Coordinator:

Ingvild Aagedal Skage holds a PhD and MA from Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen. Her research interests include democratization, political parties, clientelism, social movements, urban poverty, and human rights (with an emphasis on LGBT-rights). Her empirical focus is on sub-Saharan Africa. Ingvild was also a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the New School for Social Research, New York, in Spring 2013.

Bergen Exchanges Volunteer Coordinator:

Oda Karoline Ringstad is a fifth-year law-student at the University of Bergen, and she is currently writing her Masters Thesis on cyber operations as “use of force” and “armed attack” under the UN Charter. As an intern, she is a pilot for the unit “Corruption & Law” and one of three editors of LawTransform’s monthly newsletter. Besides studies, Oda works as a research assistant at Chr. Michelsen Institute for prof. Siri Gloppen and as an assistant at Bergen Global.


Anna Gopsill is currently working as a Communications Assistant with Chr Michelsen Institute and PR Coordinator at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation. Additionally, Anna is a PhD candidate at the University of London School of Advanced Studies. Her topic is wartime sexual violence against men in Bosnia (1992-1995) and Rwanda (1994). She is examining forms of sexual violence perpetrated against men and will also look at the legacy of the Bosnian and Rwandan criminal tribunals and how they addressed sexual violence against men in their work.

Bergen Exchanges 2019

The Bergen Exchanges is a meeting place for scholars and practitioners from across the globe who seek to understand how law serves as an instrument of change – and how it shapes and is shaped by power relations. During a week of public discussions, we examine strategic uses of rights and law and how legal institutions function as arenas for political contestation (lawfare).

The multi-disciplinary and international nature of the Bergen Exchanges makes it a unique space for improving research strategies and methods to grasp the effects of law and lawfare. This includes the use of legal instruments by governments to shape societies – whether through constitutional change, international treaties, statutes or regulations – as well as by social actors who go to court or otherwise engage rights and law to advance their goals. Effects take different forms. How legal strategies alter political dynamics, ideas and discourses can be as important for long term transformation as more immediate changes in laws, policies, or the distribution of resources. We also seek to better understand the functioning of legal and administrative institutions as they adjudicate, interpret and implement legal norms.

In connection with the Bergen Exchanges, we have an annual, interdisciplinary PhD course on Effects of Lawfare. The PhD course is free of charge and open to applicants from Norwegian and international institutions on a first-come first serve basis (but out-of-town applicants have to cover their own travel and accommodation costs, as there are no scholarships available). Full programme and dates to be confirmed.

Assessing the Long-Term Impact of Truth Commissions: The Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Historical Perspective

Elin Skaar has written a book review of Anita Ferrara (2015) Assessing the Long-Term Impact of Truth Commissions: The Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Abingdon: Routledge)

The review appeared in The Irish Yearbook of International Law, Volume 11-12, 2016-17. It was written as part of the Beyond Words: Latin American Truth Commissions’ Recommendations project.

Read more: