Call for Participation: The 6th Lemkin Reunion

January 8, 2020

Values in Retreat? Is the Resurgence of “Transactional” Foreign Policy Hindering the Prevention of Mass Atrocities and the Promotion of the Rule of Law?

The Lemkin Reunion, 6th Annual Meeting

Shattuck Center, School for Public Policy, Central European University Budapest

April 23-24, 2020

Many expected that the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism would lead to the proliferation of liberal democracy and usher in an age of global cooperation on the prevention of atrocities and strengthening rule of law. Thirty years on, however, that idealistic hope has all but vanished amidst a resurgence of realpolitik embodied in the so-called “transactional” approach to foreign policy. Under transactionalism, nations prefer to pursue bilateral relationships based purely upon power and narrowly defined national interests. This approach, however, complicates consensus building through diplomacy around shared values and common interests that strengthen the international system. A disturbing consequence of a system focused on transactional relationships is how it struggles to hold nations accountable in any meaningful way for aggression, atrocities, and eroding the rule of law.

In the past decade, the world has been tested by serious breaches of international norms and standards. These have included alleged acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Syria and Myanmar, unprovoked military aggression by Russia in Ukraine, mass persecution of minorities in China, and systematic incarceration of journalists and academics in China, Turkey, and elsewhere. Nationalist quasi-autocratic leaders in EU Member States have assaulted and rolled back democratic norms and the rule of law, while the Philippines’ president has institutionalized state-orchestrated violent oppression. Today, the bar to being considered an outcast nation is exceedingly high. Although the above examples have prompted condemnation, and in some cases, sanctions, so far, the international community has failed to take concerted action to stop or punish behavior that so clearly breaches international principles. The increasingly “transactional” nature of the international system has enabled most offenders to maintain and continue to benefit from “business-as-usual” trade and diplomatic relations across the community of nations.

The 6th Lemkin Reunion will examine these trends, discuss the challenges they pose for the prevention and punishment of atrocities and promotion of the rule of law, and propose ways forward.

The Shattuck Center invites practitioners, experts and scholars at all levels to present papers and articles at the 6th annual Lemkin Reunion. Applicants should send their CVs and 300-word (max) abstracts to no later than February 7, 2020. Selected applicants will be contacted by February 17, 2020.

Accepted participants are expected to submit drafts of their articles by April 10, 2020. Participants will deliver a ten-minute presentation of their work and participate in a subsequent roundtable discussion during one of the Lemkin seminars on April 23-24. Guidelines on style and formatting will be shared with selected applicants, and assistance in the writing process can be offered, particularly to practitioners.

Accepted participants residing outside the EU will be sent a formal invitation letter, but it is their responsibility to obtain a visa if required. Travel funds for a limited number of participants will be available, but applicants who have other sources of funding are also encouraged to apply. Please note that no payment of honoraria will be possible, although during the conference, meals and refreshments for speakers will be provided.

Each year the Shattuck Center hosts the Lemkin Reunion, a gathering named in honor of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer who lost his family in the Holocaust and first coined the word genocide. He campaigned tirelessly during his life to ensure that the crime of genocide was codified as an international crime. The Lemkin Reunion gathers policy makers involved in responding to atrocity crimes and assesses the lessons they learned.