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The Ethics of Environmental Lawyers: Wednesday 7th March 2018

Dr Steven Vaughan, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Law, Faculty of Laws, University College London, is giving the first annual Weeramantry Environmental Law and Justice lecture on Wednesday 7th March 2018 entitled: “The Ethics of Environmental Lawyers”. It will take place in the moot court, Bridge House, 5pm.

The lecture is named after His Hon. Christopher Weeramantry, former judge of the International Court of Justice, who opened the Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law and Justice in 2015, and sadly passed away in 2017.

This lecture is free to attend but space will be limited.

Marie Curie Funded Research Fellow Joins Lincoln Law School

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The Lincoln Law School has welcomed a new Marie Curie funded Research Fellow who will work under the supervision of Professor Duncan French, to conduct research into the current body of environmental law.

Professor Louis Kotzé joins the University of Lincoln from North-West University, South Africa where he is a Research Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law as well as teaching on the postgraduate programme in Environmental Law and Governance. His wider research focuses largely on the Anthropocene; a proposed geological epoch in which humans have made a significant impact on the Earth and its ecosystems meaning that the Earth’s systems are dislodged and in disarray. Specific examples of these impacts include an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, urbanisation, rising global temperatures and the depletion of ocean ecosystems.

Having been awarded the prestigious European Commission Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Fellowship, Professor Kotzé will lead a research project entitled ‘Global Ecological Custodianship: Innovative International Environmental Law for the Anthropocene’ (GLEC-LAW). The research aims to critique the body of international environmental law – more specifically, the multitude of environmental treaties that are designed to address global environmental degradation – through the lens of the Anthropocene.

The research, which will take place over the next two years, will address the implications of the Anthropocene for international environmental law with a focus on why and to what extent current environmental treaties are unable to respond to the global socio-ecological crisis and how these treaties can be reformed alongside a framework of global ecological custodianship so that they can better respond to current global environmental challenges.

As part of his fellowship, Louis will also spend six months at Utrecht University in The Netherlands working with Professor Frank Biermann and his team of Earth system scientists.

Professor Louis Kotzé said of his appointment: ‘I’m grateful for the support provided by the University of Lincoln, and specifically the Law School and its Centre for Environmental Law and Justice. The University has made massive strides in situating itself as an outstanding centre of higher education and research excellence in Europe and I am immensely excited and proud to be associated with this institution.”

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New Book by Lincoln Law School’s Professor Matthew Hall


Lincoln Law School’s Professor Matthew Hall has released a book titled ‘Victims of Crime: Construction, Governance and Policy (Palgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology), which is available in hardback and as a Kindle download

This book critically engages with the development of official policy and reform in relation to the support of victims of crime both within and beyond the criminal justice system of England and Wales. Since the election of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government in May 2010 it is argued that victimization has increasingly taken on a greater cultural resonance both in England and Wales and in other industrialised countries. Images of terrorism, public debates around the handling of sexual victimisation by the courts, and the issue of child sexual exploitation have catapulted victim issues into the public consciousness like never before  – generating a new form of what Hall terms ‘victim capital’. As such, this book utilises a combination of cultural victimological analysis, governance theory and legal scholarship to address fundamental questions concerning the drivers and impact of victim policy in England and Wales in the 21st century. An engaging and original study, this book will be of particular interest to scholars of victimology and the criminal justice system, as well as activists and policy makers.

Congratulations Matthew!

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Lincoln Law Lecturer Co-Authors Paper on Supporting the Success of Forced Migrants in Higher Education

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Access, participation and success in higher education are rarely considered as priorities when contemplating ways to support forced migrants that is refugees, asylum seekers and others in need of international protection. Yet, education, including higher education, is critical to supporting forced migrants establish themselves in a new country.

Education creates life-enhancing opportunities, and helps forced migrants to shape their own futures and gain a sense of belonging in their new community. However, many forced migrants living in the UK are unable to avail themselves of such opportunities due to limitations placed upon them, such as their international student status or their ineligibility for vital student finance.

Many universities in the UK are working hard to facilitate the entry of forced migrants into highereducation, by offering scholarships and other types of support. The Article 26 project was founded in 2010 and supports universities in developing and implementing scholarships, and sanctuary scholars themselves, with the aim of maximising their participation and success in higher education. We are beginning the new year with the launch of a set of guiding principles that assist universities and other higher education institutions in enabling, encouraging and supporting the participation of forced migrant students in higher education.

Introducing the Guiding Principles on Sanctuary Scholars in UK Higher Education

The Guiding Principles provide the foundations for any sanctuary initiative designed to support the success of forced migrants in higher education. They are a vital strategic planning tool for institutions, tailored to assist them in establishing, sustaining or growing their scholarships and wider initiatives that support forced migrants at their institutions.

There are 10 main principles. These are:

  1. The right of forced migrants to access higher education – as is evidenced in international, European and domestic law.
  2. Equal treatment and non-discrimination – the primary identity of Sanctuary Scholars should be that of a student, and not their immigration status.
  3. The right to privacy – protecting the privacy of Sanctuary Scholars and preventing the unlawful disclosure of their immigration status, especially without their permission.
  4. An outline of Sanctuary Initiatives – Sanctuary Initiatives can vary in design and scale, but they need to be tailored to meet the needs of forced migrant students.
  5. Underlying principles for the design and implementation of Sanctuary Initiatives – Sanctuary Initiatives should be accessible, fair, inclusive and transparent, and give due consideration to the needs and academic interests of Sanctuary Scholars.
  6. Selection processes and removal of procedural barriers – processes need to be transparent, fair and accommodating.
  7. Communication – clear, effective and timely communication is key.
  8. Academic, pastoral and professional support – it is vital that Sanctuary Scholars have access to support services that effectively consider their specific needs as forced migrants.
  9. Student progress and participation – keeping track of academic and social engagement is important for maximising student success.
  10. Staff training – championing knowledge and awareness of the specific needs of Sanctuary Scholars among key staff.

The Guiding Principles are authored by Ben Hudson – Lecturer in Law at the University of Lincoln, and Rebecca Murray – Director of the Article 26 project. Their formulation has benefitted greatly from insights provided by expert gatherings of university representatives, students, academics and practitioners. Their development has come in response to the need for overarching guidance that supports the design and administration of clear, coherent, accessible and transparent educational initiatives targeted towards championing forced migrant students in higher education.

Sanctuary Scholars: Compendium of Resources

The ‘Guiding Principles’ are the first in a series of six resources aimed at providing the most up to date information:

  • ‘Identifying Sanctuary Scholars’ – a guide to identifying the different groups (collectively described as forced migrants) that we encourage universities to include in their eligibility criteria for scholarship schemes.
  • ‘Reaching out to Sanctuary Scholars’ – an outline of key outreach strategies for the promotion of sanctuary scholarships within universities, in the locality and via national platforms.
  • ‘Who Needs to Comply?’ Sanctuary Scholars and Compliance – produced in partnership with Coram Children’s Legal Centre, this provides a framework to assist compliance teams to monitor forced migrant students studying within their institution.
  • ‘Sanctuary Scholarship Standard Application form’ – a revised and updated application form and accompanying guidance notes to support universities in the establishment or review of their existing scholarship scheme.
  • ‘Selecting Sanctuary Scholars’ – a selection framework built on and directly connected to the revised application form, which will support universities in the process of shortlisting, interviewing and assessing the specific needs of prospective forced migrant students.

In February 2017, universities and students from across the UK participated in a seminar to explore how policy and process in respect to scholarships for forced migrant students could be improved. A working group (comprised of university representatives, Article 26 student and Let us Learn’ campaign representatives) was convened to take forward the production of this series of resources. The Guiding Principles underpin this catalogue of resources and will help form the basis of discussions to establish scholarships schemes, or revise and grow existing initiatives.

Achievements we’re proud of to date

Central to project’s work is the coordination of a higher education network, which offers support and guidance of what to include in a scholarship. They typically includes a full tuition-fee waiver and funding to help meet the additional costs of studying. The model of support designed by project was pioneered over a four-year period (2010 – 2014).

The project curates a comprehensive list of bursaries available across the UK that support forced migrants to qualify for university. For example, secure English language or intersessional qualifications, and opportunities to study at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The production of a library of resources has been one of the project’s top priorities. In 2014 the project published ‘Education for All’; a comprehensive guide to supporting forced migrant students in higher education, from recruitment to graduation.

The eighth annual Article 26 conference will be hosted by Kings College London on the 28 – 30 August 2018. The conference is a three-day event: the first day is aimed at sanctuary scholars; the second day brings together sanctuary scholars, university practitioners and additional project stakeholders; the final day is an academic symposium on forced migration and higher education.

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Lincoln Law’s Diane Ryland Selected as EU Animal Welfare Professional 2018


Congratulations to Lincoln Law School Senior Lecturer Diane Ryland who has been selected as EU Animal Welfare Professional of the Year 2018!

Based on the results of a voting process, Diane was selected in the Innovation and Excellence in Agriculture category of CorporateLiveWire’s annual awards. During the awards process over 100,000 businesses and corporate professionals, the general public and the international base of subscribers were invited to nominate associations, companies & individuals based on their achievements and strengths. Additionally Corporate Livewire’s extensive research team put forward a selection of individuals considered to have excelled within their industry.

Diane, a nominee subsequently shortlisted, was invited to submit details of her research on Animal Welfare Governance in Agriculture, accessible via the following links: and, in relation to her PhD (PT) thesis in progress – together with any notable achievements in the last 12 months. Relevant here was Diane’s participation in Working Group 16 which negotiated the ISO Technical Specification on animal welfare management related to the food supply chain, prior to its adoption by ISO Technical Committee 34 Food Products comprised of 78 Member Countries world wide. ISO Press Release: 

Diane’s long-term strategy is to facilitate raised standards of farm animal welfare in agriculture and to engender increased demand for added-value agri-produce in a global agri-food supply chain, through a proposed framework of soft law tools of governance and market instruments.

An independent judging panel decided upon the most deserving teams, practices and individuals to walk away with one of their prestigious accolades. Award winners gain a place in both digital and printed versions of the published awards winners’ guide (end of March – beginning of April 2018), which will be distributed to over 90,000 businesses and professionals, as well as being distributed in Aspire Airport Lounges around the world.

Congratulations again Diane!

See more of Diane’s research into the need for improvements to the welfare of farmed animals here

Lincoln Law School’s Diane Ryland on International Animal Rights Day


Research undertaken by Diane Ryland, Senior Lecturer in the Law School at the University of Lincoln, is concerned with transnational animal welfare governance in agriculture with the objective of realising in effect the fact that animals are sentient beings able to feel pain and pleasure and experience comfort and distress. Increasingly, farmed animals are recognised as sentient beings with specific welfare needs, if not rights, deserving of respect and improved protection, but the extent to which animal sentience is translated into legally binding standards adequately to ensure the welfare of animals reared in lawful intensive farming practices is questioned.

Diane’s research looks at the global governance of the welfare of food producing animals. It examines the regional / transnational farm animal welfare standards of the European Union and the welfare standards emanating from the international animal welfare standard-setter, the World Organisation for Animal Health in its Terrestrial Animal Health Code concerned with the production systems for certain species of farm animal. Animal Welfare in agriculture is a complex issue in which diverse factors coincide and diverge, for example: science, values, cultures and religion, demographics, economics, politics and trade etc.

Private individual and collective farm assurance schemes have arisen alongside these public standards, with global retail chains sourcing agricultural produce to market in an extended agri-food supply chain. The potential for private standards to go beyond and fill lacunae in the public standards presents an opportunity to raise standards of farm animal welfare and bolster demand for enhanced animal welfare agricultural produce in a global value chain.

The relationship between public and private animal welfare standards is integral to Diane’s research. This interest led to her participation in Working Group 16 meetings held at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Paris, in which International Standardization Organization (ISO) Technical Specification 34700 on animal welfare management related to the food supply chain was the subject of negotiation prior to its adoption by ISO Technical Committee 34 Food Products on 1 December 2016 [General requirements and guidance for organizations in the food supply chain, 01-12-2016 [ISO/TS 34700:2016(E)]].

Diane’s research explores the implications of standardisation and proposes a framework of soft law tools of governance facilitative of raised standards of farm animal welfare, together with suggested market instruments, for example an enhanced animal welfare label, to engender increased demand for added-value agri-produce. She is researching for a PhD (Part Time) in Hybrid Animal Welfare Governance in Agriculture in the Law School at the University of Leeds, supervised by Professor Michael Cardwell, Professor of Agricultural Law.

This research, furthermore, has prompted both a nomination and shortlisting for an innovation in agriculture award, pursuant to which the education and awareness of the welfare needs of animals during their lives and the potential prospects of alleviating animal suffering through the recommendations advanced may reach a wider audience.

Lincoln Law’s Duncan French and Graham Melling Visit China


Professor Duncan French, Head of Lincoln Law School and Dr Graham Melling, Director of LLM Programmes, have recently returned from Guangzhou, southern China on a visit to a number of partner institutions. During their stay they visited the law schools of South China Normal University (SCNU) and South China University of Technology (SCUT). As well as meeting academics and students to talk about opportunities to study at Lincoln, both Professor French and Dr Melling took a range of classes on aspects of international law. Topics included the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia, the US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the legal implications of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Lincoln Law investigates if all ISIS members are lawful targets for lethal force


University of Lincoln Law lecturer, Max Brookman-Byrne questions whether the targeting of ISIS members by lethal force is lawful.

The recent deaths of Sally Jones, a member of Islamic State, and her 12-year-old son serve as a reminder that the law on the targeting of militants by armed drones is still fraught with ambiguity stemming from the asymmetrical nature of modern global conflict.

In situations where there is an armed conflict, a particular set of international laws apply known as International Humanitarian Law (IHL). These rules give states greater scope to use lethal force, which ordinarily would be highly constrained. During armed conflicts, IHL allows members of a state’s armed forces — ie recognised armed forces attached to the country’s leadership — to be targeted at any time. There are restrictions in place that prevent medical or religious personnel from being targeted.

This same categorical approach is not permitted when it comes to members of non-state armed groups. As they are not members of a state’s armed forces, the members of these groups are viewed as civilians in law. Within IHL, civilians are protected against attack and therefore may not be targeted unless they directly participate in hostilities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has interpreted “direct participation in hostilities” to mean that members of non-state armed groups will lose their protection as civilians only if they carry out a “continuous combat function”. Some have argued that the ICRC approach is too restrictive, placing dangerous individuals outside the list of legitimate targets. The United States, for instance, argues that formal membership of a non-state armed group such as Isis, even in a non-combat role, should be sufficient reasoning for someone to forfeit their civilian protection. Others have argued that the ICRC approach is too broad and that an individual should be targeted only if they are carrying out a specific hostile act, not just by virtue of their membership.

Considering the complexities of this debate, ultimately the ICRC’s position can be seen to occupy a middle ground between these two perspectives, and is therefore a useful tool for analysis.

The question remains, however, what is considered to be a participation in hostilities? Can it be defined as the participation in a specific hostile act, carrying out a continuous combat function or can it be interpreted much more broadly, to include the participation in propaganda?

The rise of social media has added another dimension to modern conflict. For militant groups such as Isis social media is a widely utilised vehicle of recruitment and propaganda, used to encourage individuals to travel to war zones, training camps or to carry out attacks on the home soil of perceived enemies.

While it is clear that this is neither a responsible, nor ethical activity for a person to participate in, and is also likely to be criminal under domestic law, the question must be raised — does the direct involvement in the creation or distribution of propaganda render someone a lawful target for lethal force?

The interpretation of the ICRC specifically argues that recruitment and propaganda activities do not equate to a continuous combat function, nor to direct participation in hostilities, which would suggest not.

IHL is designed to limit hostilities, not enable them. It should not be treated as a set of rules giving broad powers to states to target individuals, but as a body of law to protect those affected by conflict. This is particularly so in terms of conflicts between a state and a non-state armed group, in which there is more scope for civilians to become affected by, and embroiled in, conflict.

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Professor Duncan French on Alternate Realities: Brexit and Pokémon


As with many households across the globe – regardless of the age (or existence!) of children – my children became obsessed by the “Pokémon-Go” euphoria that captured mobile apps and social media in July and August this year. To be truthful, I didn’t want to show my naivety as to what I plainly did not understand so I played along as my children ran around searching for these curious-looking Pokémons (or is it Pokémoni?). It was a frenetic period that I did not quite grasp and decided that it was a fad that would soon die down and fade away. On reflection, I was perhaps too traditional in my view that a game so premised upon such an ephemeral proposition would not last. Despite cerebrally knowing what technology could now do, I was perhaps loathed to accept what is simply a further step in how the virtual and my physical existence now interact.

At the same time, many of us were coming to terms with the EU referendum result, seeking to compute the enormity of what had happened on the 23 June, and to reconcile ourselves to the consequences. For many, membership of the EU is as instinctive and fundamental to the UK’s global identity as its membership of NATO, or of the UN. So, just as my head and heart were in tension in understanding Pokémon-Go, I now wonder whether the same was true as regards the European referendum? My head knew that the referendum would be tight, that the campaign had been badly fought and that many in the UK still saw the EU as the institutional zenith of the “other” telling us what to do. “Take back control” was a myth but it was also a very powerful – a very emotive – catchphrase, which (whether we like it or not) resonated with a sizeable proportion of the electorate. Notwithstanding this, my heart hoped for the best… we surely wouldn’t throw it all away? Surely not.

And this tension between head and heart seems to have also clouded how many of us, as environmental lawyers, have prioritised the environment in discussions on Brexit. To do so ignores, however, an invariable fact; namely that the environment has barely mattered. Or, more accurately, that for most who voted Leave (and indeed for many who voted Remain) the environment is a long way down the Brexit agenda. It had scant impact on the campaign, and its relevance in the aftermath remains equally unclear. For sure, some tried to raise the issue of what the EU had done for the environment, but there was an almost inverse relationship between the sincerity and earnestness of the arguments presented, and the likely effect this had on the wider population. There was also the prospective debate as to whether the EU would be able to continue to play a leading role in such critical matters as climate change – and to meet its commitments – without the continuing membership of the UK. Again, valid questions but hardly persuasive in the popular consciousness.

So, just as my head and heart were in tension in understanding Pokémon-Go, I now wonder whether the same was true as regards the European referendum?

Within any discourse on Brexit, there is, of course, a particular paradox; the ecological and economic interdependence facing any State, be it part of a regional grouping or otherwise. Indeed, since the referendum result, the first official steps towards recognising the Anthropocene as the next geological epoch have been taken. And within the UK, the nature and extent of such global interdependence has also become apparent, perhaps most acutely in terms of the UK’s future energy policy. The decision in September to continue with the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor in conjunction with EDF, a French contractor, and the Chinese government reflects not only the inability of most States to fund themselves such huge energy projects, but also that such endeavours now reflect a synergy – however much in tension – between disparate priorities of energy security, domestic supply, the provision of sustainable energy, and other commercial realities, both for the consumer and the investor. And while the ongoing case brought by Austria and others before the CJEU against the UK for unlawful state aid is very much predicated on EU law, one should not ignore the parallel intergovernmental discussions before the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context on the inadequacy of British consultation over environmental concerns. As a convention under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, membership will persist post-Brexit, as will many other international treaties. The UK has yet to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and has regrettably not been in the vanguard of early ratifications. Nevertheless, there is every expectation that the UK will ratify by the end of this calendar year. As a matter of international law, the UK remains within a network of legal rules and processes – in the environmental field as in many others – that reveals the false premise in any absolutism in “tak[ing] back control”.

So as the UK moves towards trying to discern which model of Brexit is to be preferred, I would argue against fatalism; that as academics and as participants in the political process, we do not simply hark back to what is going to recede gradually from us, namely our membership of the EU and our contribution to EU environmental policy. But that we re-engage (perhaps for the first time) with other regional and international processes and institutions that reflect such ecological interdependence. I may not have understood the allure of capturing Pokémon – I now think the singular is also the plural – but I hope I am not so trenchant as to run around in the hope of spotting something even rarer; UK membership of the EU as it existed prior to 23 June 2016. That truly is becoming an alternate reality.

By Professor Duncan French, Head of Lincoln Law School, Professor of International Law and Co-Director of the Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law and Justice.

Featured image credit: Pokémon planet. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.

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Lincoln Law Professor, Matthew Hall on the Sentencing of Oxford University Student, Lavinia Woodward