Video | Reconciling Decolonization and Public Policy

The Max Bell School hosted the event Reconciling Decolonization and Public Policy as part of Black History Month at the School.

This panel aimed to unpack decolonization as a conceptual framework in terms of its capacity to disrupt mainstream approaches to public policy, applied especially to areas of constitutionalism and the South African experience. It featured reflections on historical and the renewed contemporary movements of decolonization in the global South and lessons learned for multicultural states: Can public policy, operating in ‘classic’ state structures and international law paradigms, truly be influenced by decolonization? What are the competing or complimentary dimensions of public policy and decolonization?

Some highlights from the event:

  • Professor Madlingozi explains that the majority of civil society in South Africa pushes for better implementation of the constitution, advocating policies that lead to a more liberal society. But this begets more assimilation. "Unless your approach is radical, is decolonizing, you're not going to get change for the majority."
  • Professor Givens says, despite its flaws, South Africa holds some lessons for decolonization in the U.S. "You can't have restorative justice without understanding the impact of history," something which is much discussed in South Africa.
  • Givens: "Part of the intractability is that you look at the basics of the law and say, 'well, we have equal rights.' But just look at the prison system and policing; it's clear that those rights are not being implemented in a way that addresses underlying structures."
  • Givens: "Public policy has to go a step beyond doing things that 'aren't biased.' We need to do things that actually restore people's access to things that will make them whole. Restorative justice has to be intentional."
  • "Unless there is societal reconciliation, not individual reconciliation, we can't talk about empathy and ubuntu," says Professor Madlingozi.

Speakers

Tshepo Madlingozi is an Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University. He has master’s degrees in both Law and Sociology, and he received his PhD degree from Birkbeck, University of London. He is a Research Associate at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education at Nelson Mandela University. He is the co-editor of the South African Journal on Human Rights. He is a co-editor of Symbol or Substance: Socio-economic Rights in South Africa (Cambridge UP) and a co-editor of Introduction to Law and Legal Skills in South Africa, 2nd Edition (Oxford UP South Africa). He sits on the boards of the following civil society organizations: Amandla.mobi; Centre for Human Rights, University of Free State; the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution; the Rural Democracy Trust; and the Mining-Affected Communities United in Action/Women-Affected by Mining Action. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), and a member of the advisory board of the Health Justice Initiative. For thirteen years (2015-2018) he worked with and for Khulumani Support Group, a 120 000-strong social movement of victims and survivors of Apartheid as National Advocacy Coordinator & later the Chairperson.

Terri Givens is the CEO and Founder of Brighter Professional Development. She is also a political scientist with more than 30 years of success in higher education, politics, international affairs, and non-profits. She is an accomplished speaker and uses her platform to develop leaders with an understanding of the importance of diversity and encourages personal growth through empathy. Terri has held leadership positions as Vice Provost at University of Texas at Austin and Provost of Menlo College (first African American and woman); professorships at University of Texas at Austin, and University of Washington. She was the founding director at the Center for European Studies at the University of Texas and led the university’s efforts in Mexico and Latin America as Vice Provost for International Activities. At Menlo College she has led faculty and staff in developing programs for first generation students, updating curriculum and infrastructure for evidence-based assessment. Terri is the author/editor of books and articles on immigration policy, European politics and security. Her most recent book is the memoir, Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides.

Discussants

Pearl Eliadis

Professor Elidias is a 'pracademic,' spending half her time with the School and half in her law practice, where she specializes in human rights, national institutions and democratic governance. At Max Bell, she is the inaugural chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and serves as a First Responder In the School. Pearl also has more than a decade of public policy experience in government, including as Director of Policy and Education at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Senior Director at the Policy Research Initiative (Privy Council Office) in Ottawa. From 2000-2003, she served on several UN missions to Rwanda to establish the National Human Rights Commission and the Unity and Reconciliation Commission in that country. Pearl has written extensively on human rights, public policy and evaluation in the social justice context and Is deeply engaged with civil society organizations in Canada and internationally. She has served in leadership roles with many human rights NGOs and is a recipient of several awards for this work, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canada 125 Commemorative Medal. She was named a Human Rights Change Maker in 2017 by Equitas.

Munesuishe (Mune) Mafusire

Mune is a Zimbabwean national and has lived in over six countries. This diverse experience has made him more adept at working with and across different cultural contexts. Mune's experience in policy advocacy has strengthened his research and communications skills, while fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. As a recent graduate from McGill University's Political Science program, he has developed a keen interest in the complexities of the policy process for African countries, whether in local or global contexts. Mune hopes to gain deeper insights into the continent's geopolitical issues and how to address them from a policy perspective.

Jennifer Welsh

Jennifer M. Welsh is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance and Security at McGill University. She was previously Professor and Chair in International Relations at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy) and Professor in International Relations at the University of Oxford, where she co-founded the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict. From 2013-2016, she served as the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, on the Responsibility to Protect.

Professor Welsh is the author, co-author, and editor of several books and articles on humanitarian intervention, the evolution of the notion of the ‘responsibility to protect’ in international society, the UN Security Council, and Canadian foreign policy. Her most recent books include The Return of History: Conflict, Migration and Geopolitics in the 21st century (2016), which was based on her CBC Massey Lectures, and The Responsibility to Prevent: Overcoming the Challenges of Atrocity Prevention (2015). She was a former recipient of a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship and a Trudeau Fellowship, and from 2014-2019 has directed a five-year European Research Council-funded project called “The Individualisation of War: Reconfiguring the Ethics, Law and Politics of Armed Conflict”. She is also a frequent media commentator on international affairs and Canadian foreign policy.

Professor Welsh sits on the editorial boards of the journals Global Responsibility to Protect, International Journal, and Ethics and International Affairs, and on the Advisory Boards of the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt, The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation. She has a BA from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada), and a Masters and Doctorate from the University of Oxford (where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar).

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