Monday 22 August

Roberto-GargarellaOpening and Key Note Address by Roberto Gargarella: “Can courts pursue social justice while respecting democracy?

Time: 09:00-10:15. Place:  Bergen Resource Centre for International Development, Jekteviksbakken 31

Since ‘dialogic constitutionalism’ emerged in Canada in 1982 court around the world have developed similar and improved dialogic practices to promote democratic debate through judicial intervention. Advocates of deliberative democracy and critics of traditional forms of judicial review have hoped that these dialogic mechanisms would help enforce social rights and social justice in a democratic manner – but to what extent has this materialized? The lecture critically analyzes the scope and limits of the practice of dialogic constitutionalism as it has emerged over the past decades, and asks how it can be improved.

Jensenius2016 Chr. Michelsen Prize Lecture by Francesca Jensenius: “Can Electoral Quotas Advance Social Justice – and How Do We Know?” 

Time: 10:30-12:00. Place: Bergen Resource Centre for International Development, Jekteviksbakken 31

This lecture is based on the work that won Francesca Refsum Jensenius the 2016 Chr. Michelsen Price for the best work in development studies. The material is part of Social Justice through Inclusion: The Consequences of Electoral Quotas in India (forthcoming with Oxford University Press), her book manuscript about the longest-standing electoral quota systems in the world: The reserved seats for the Scheduled Castes (SCs, Dalits, India’s former `untouchables’) in India’s state assemblies. In this book, she combines evidence from various quantitative datasets from the period 1971–2007, archival work, and in-depth interviews with politicians, civil servants and voters across India in 2010 and 2011, to explore the effects of this extensive quota system, how the impact has changed over time, and how the various consequences relate to each other. She argues that the institutional design of the quota system has played an important role in incentivizing the integration of SCs into all the main political parties, while at the same time prevented the emergence of group representatives — understood as SC politicians acting for the interest of their group. In this lecture she will talk about key findings from the book, with a focus on how the institutional design of this quota policy both shapes its effects and can help us study these effects empirically.

Tuesday 23 August 

Threats to the Independence of the Judiciary – Cross-regional Perspectives

Time: 19:00-21:00. Place: Bergen resource Centre for International Development, Jekteviksbakken 31.

Courts are growing increasingly powerful all over the world. While independent and robust courts can secure democratic governance and protect citizens’ rights and wellbeing, dependent and weak judiciaries exacerbate injustice and inequality. Courts have validated – and prohibited – presidential re-elections in Latin America; supported – and condemned – military coups in Asia; enforced – and sanctioned – asylum practices in Europe; and legalized – or criminalized – same-sex relations in Africa. Even though the lack of judicial independence and integrity for a long time has been on the agenda in fragile democracies; there is an increasing interest on this topic also in consolidated democracies. What are the similarities between fragile and consolidated democracies with regard to the threats to judicial independence? How different are problems of judicial corruption and lack of independence? Which are the most common strategies whereby politicians seek to manipulate the judiciary? And how can this situation be improved in the future?

Introduction by Andrea Castagnola in dialogue with Roberto Gargarella (Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina), Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde (UiB, Norway) Sofie Schütte (CMI, Norway) and Edge Kanyongolo (University of Malawi) who will share their experience and knowledge from Latin American, Scandinavian and African cases.

Wednesday 24 August 

Charles_Epp_sportjacketAnnual Lecture on Law & Social Transformation by Charles Epp:

What makes Climate-Change Litigation effective? Understanding Strategic Litigation Campaigns

Time: 18:00 – 19:30. Place: Litteraturhuset i Bergen (Bergen Literature House), Østre Skostredet 5-7 

Norwegian climate change activists consider going to court to force policy change on oil drilling. In the United States there is an ongoing campaign by environmental groups to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions where litigation has played a central part – in some cases with considerable success. What factors influence how litigation campaigns are planned and carried out? How do their organizers decide what legal claims to make, when and where? How do these decisions interact with grassroots movements and official decisions to shape the path of legal change over time? Using experiences from climate change litigation in the US, this lecture will sketch the outlines of a theory to better understand the course of litigation campaigns in light of the pull of grassroots mobilization, opportunities associated with state policy and official action, and exigencies related to funding and organizational capacity.

Charles Epp is the author of one of the most cited books in law & society scholarship: The Rights Revolution: Lawyers, Activists, and Supreme Courts in Comparative Perspective and highly acclaimed books on Making Rights Real: Activists, Bureaucrats, and the Creation of the Legalistic State and Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship.


Thursday 25 August

Quo Vadis Refugee Convention

Time: 19:00-20:30. Place: UiB Law School Aud 4, Magnus Lagabøtes Plass 1

Faced with a so-called refugee crisis, European politicians, practitioners and scholars discuss whether the 1951 Refugee Convention is in need of reform. Many of the arguments and questions have been raised previously, for example during the Balkan war, but today, the context differs. We are seeing the highest number of refugees ever, with 65, 3 million people fleeing their homes. Throughout the world, refugees often flee conflict and persecution, with the war in Syria as the largest source – but people are also forced to migrate due to climate change, natural disasters and poverty. These latter causes of flight are not normally considered by the 1951 Refugee Conventions as legitimate grounds for refugee status.  In this context, not only do we hear calls for reform of the Refugee Convention and asylum regulations as a whole, but fundamental principles, such as the principle of non-refoulement (not forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution), are under pressure.

Is it imperative to change the Refugee Convention now? And what should that change entail? What is most important; refugee protection and the fulfilment of fundamental human rights, or the sovereign state’s capacity to control the movement of people across its borders?

The evening starts off with a talk made by Gisela Thäter (Senior Regional Legal Officer for UNHCR in Northern Europe) before Maja Janmyr (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen) and Vikram Kolmannskog (lawyer and social scientist with a doctoral degree (Dr.Philos) in Sociology of Law, University of Oslo) join her for a further discussion on these issues. We also encourage the audience to raise question and share their thoughts on the topic, and hope the event will open up to a more nuanced take on the important, but often polarized debate on how to improve the system of refugee regulation.