The Research Group on Global Justice (RGGJ) studies questions concerning the philosophical and normative grounding of the historical and political development of global, international and transnational agents, institutions, structures and practices. Open with respect to theoretical perspectives and methodologies, the RGGJ focuses on themes such as the standing, rights and duties of individuals, groups, non-state actors, non-governmental organizations and states in a transnational context; the legitimacy of international institutions and structures; the concept of human rights; state sovereignty; the self-determination of peoples; international law; global distributive and social justice, and just development; justice in international migration; the ethics of war; feminist critiques and visions of international and global order; historic injustice in a global and transnational context; race, colonialism and empire in the formation of global order and justice; and environmental justice.
- Catherine Lu (Political Science)
Duration: January 2017 to December 2018
Office: Room 304, ICAMES, 3465 Peel Street
Research Topic: Hybrid Peace: Engaging the institution of chieftaincy in Sierra Leone’s post-war reconstruction
Project Summary: Since the 1990s, peacebuilding has become an externally-driven enterprise aimed at political and social reconstruction of societies emerging from armed conflict. In addition to enhancing formal state capacity, liberal democratic norms are being instituted in post-conflict societies to ensure respect for “global” governance and rule of law standards. At the same time, local institutions such as chieftaincy, whose legitimacy is often linked to traditional authority and informal trust networks, have remained resilient. This survival of traditional institutions amidst externally-supported efforts to institute liberal norms raises an important question. How can the institution of chieftaincy be (re)structured to conform to modern governance rules without undermining its contemporary social relevance? Addressing this question through a case study of post-conflict Sierra Leone is the main purpose of this post-doctoral research. It builds on my Ph.D. thesis which is a sub-national study of the challenges and implications of harmonizing customary justice systems with the international rule of law in post-conflict Sierra Leone and Liberia. But unlike my doctoral research, which is specifically interested in justice systems, here I ask a more fundamental question about the nature and potential of the institution of chieftaincy to fit into postwar state reconstruction and statebuilding. From the perspective of International Relations scholarship, I will draw on constructivist scholarship on norm diffusion in the global south but also contextualise the processes of localization within post-colonial state-society relations in Africa. Building on the concept of hybrid peace, I will argue that instead of replacing pre-existing local institutions with liberal democratic ones, sustainable peacebuilding rests on enhancing the capacity of such institutions to complement state functions and authority in war-torn societies.
Scholarly Profile: Mohamed Sesay graduated with a PhD in Political Science from McGill University in 2016, specializing in International Relations and Comparative Politics, with a specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Sesay also holds two Master’s degrees in Political Science from the University of Alberta (2011) and the University of Sierra Leone (2009), respectively. During his doctoral studies, he was recipient of the Vanier Canada Graduate Fellowship, awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). His research examines the complex interactions between global and local norms of justice, peacebuilding, and reconstruction within the context of societies emerging from armed conflicts. Mohamed Sesay is also a post-doctoral researcher of the Network on Transitional Justice and Development, a collaborative project to examine the relation between transitional justice and development in fragile and conflict affected states (FCAS).
Areas of Research: Transitional justice, rule of law, customary law, post-conflict peacebuilding, African politics
Mohamed Sesay, "Hijacking the Rule of Law in Post-conflict Environments," European Journal of International Security (forthcoming 2018)
Mohamed Sesay, “Endogenous Informal Institutional Change: The Place of Traditional Justice in Sierra Leone’s Post-war Reconstruction,” African Affairs (forthcoming 2018).
Sesay, Mohamed. “Harmonizing Customary Justice with International Rule of Law? Lessons from Post-conflict Sierra Leone.” In Evaluating Transitional Justice: Accountability and Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone edited by K. Ainley, R. Friedman, and C. Mahoney. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
Ben-Josef Hirsch, Michal, Megan MacKenzie, and Mohamed Sesay. “Measuring the Impact of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions: Placing the Global ‘Success’ of TRCs in Local Perspective.” Cooperation and Conflict 47, 3 (2012):386-403.
MacKenzie, Megan and Mohamed Sesay. “No Amnesty from/for the International: The Production and Promotion of TRCs as an International Norm in Sierra Leone.” International Studies Perspectives 13, 2 (2012):146-16.
Duration : September-October 2019
Title: Democratic Hope
Summary: The language of hope is ubiquitous in democratic life. Citizens hope for their cause or candidate to prevail, activists describe their fight against oppression and injustice as bolstered by shared hopes, politicians invoke hope to galvanise support. Political philosophers, by contrast, have for long neglected the topic. The aim of my project is to develop a systematic account of the role of hope in democratic life that is sensitive to its unavoidability as much as its dangers. What are the appropriate objects of hope in modern, diverse democracies? Under which conditions are we licensed (or even obligated) to hope? What is the significance of democratic hope and why (if at all) should we prefer it to alternative attitudes such as fear or optimism? Answers to these (and adjacent) questions will provide us with a clearer picture of the circumstances under which certain types of hope should be welcomed in democratic life, and why.
Scholarly Profile: Jakob Huber is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. In his research, he attempts to make insights from Kant’s practical philosophy fruitful for a variety of debates and issues in contemporary political philosophy. Having obtained degrees from Berlin and Oxford, Huber received his PhD in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2017.
- “Defying Democratic Despair: A Kantian Account of Hope in Politics”, European Journal of Political Theory.
- “Pragmatic Belief and Political Agency”, Political Studies 66(3), 2018, 651-666.
- “Theorising from the Global Standpoint: Kant and Grotius on Original Common Possession of the Earth”, European Journal of Philosophy 25(2), 2017, 231-249.
Past Visiting Scholars
Duration: April to June 2018
Office: Ferrier Building - office 498
Title: Moral Migration Markets
Summary: There is a great deal of debate over when states are permitted to use force to control migration, but far less debate over when states are permitted to use incentives to control migration. I consider the ethics of what I call ‘Migration Markets,’ focusing on four types: State-State markets occur when one state pays another to accept more migrants than it otherwise would, as when Spain pays Morocco money to keep migrants from crossing into Spanish territory. State-Individual markets occur when states pay migrants to remain in transit countries or return home, as when Germany pays refugees to return to Afghanistan. Individual-State markets occur when individuals pay to gain residency status, as when individuals buy a house in Spain to gain a visa to remain. Finally, Individual-Individual markets occur when individuals pay to clandestinely cross borders, as when refugees pay smugglers to reach safety. To establish when these markets ought to be established and maintained, I consider the broader questions of when markets are just, and when transactions are permissible.
Scholarly Profile: Mollie Gerver is an Assistant Professor in International Politics at Newcastle University in the UK, where she researches immigration ethics and broader questions surrounding coercion and consent. She completed her PhD at the London School of Economics in 2016, and has a forthcoming book entitled Refugee Repatriation: Ethics and Practice (Edinburgh University Press).
"Refugee Repatriation and the Problem of Consent," British Journal of Political Science (Forthcoming)
"Paying Minorities to Leave," Politics, Philosophy and Economics (Forthcoming)
"Paying Refugees to Leave," Political Studies (65)(3)(2017)