Monday, December 30, 2013

Study for a PhD in Law - Durham University

Durham University is now advertising three PhD studentships -- the deadline is 5pm on Monday, 17 February 2014. There are also AHRC and ESRC studentship opportunities. More information about applications can be found here: 

Durham Law School has over 40 full-time members of staff including several working in legal and moral philosophy that may be available to supervise new students. The Law School is one of the highest ranked in the UK supporting six active research centres across a variety of areas with links across several research institutes at the university.

Interested readers should contact me for more information about studying for a PhD in Law at Durham Law School from autumn 2014.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Policy Proposal #5: Hate Crime Register

My policy proposal #5 for the Labour Party 2015 Manifesto - launch a hate crime register

Summary: Recommendation that Labour supports the creation of a Hate Crime Register identifying persons convicted of committing hate crimes

Proposal:  Labour should support the creation of a new Hate Crime Register. Its purpose would be akin to the sex offenders register. The latter provides a list of persons identified as sex offenders where appearing on this register renders them ineligible for certain occupations, such as working with children in schools.

A Hate Crime Register would fulfill a similar aim. It would identify persons convicted of hate crimes with the purpose of rendering them ineligible for similar, if not the same, types of employment and other opportunities.

One aim is to help make communities safer. A further aim is to communicate a stronger deterrent.

See more at YourBritain website.

Policy Proposal #4: Give victims greater voice in sentencing decisions

Policy Proposal #4 for the Labour 2015 General Election Manifesto:

Criminal justice suffers from a lack of public confidence. It is easy to see why.

The legal system can appear an unwelcome place where the victim – and not the offender – is truly on trial. Many victims unsurprisingly report dissatisfaction with their treatment. Sometimes they feel like bystanders in trials they might have affected them profoundly.

This problem is not an accident. The trial is designed so that justice is impartial, but must this require we silence victims about sentencing decisions?

The issue raises an important anomaly. While victims can provide crucial evidence in favour of an offender’s conviction, victims’ voices are often silenced when we consider sentencing options.

Most criminal cases – over 90 per cent – never go to a full trial. Offenders plead guilty and a sentence is passed. Victims lack their day in court to express openly the wrongs they have endured and their views about moving forward in the name of swift justice.

Our challenge is improving public confidence in criminal justice without alienating victims further. In fact, we can make this system better by giving victims a greater voice in sentencing decisions.

Restorative justice is an approach revolutionising criminal justice. It is many things criminal justice is not. Whereas criminal justice is formal, rule-laden and conducted in court by legal professionals, restorative justice is informal, flexible and conducted by ordinary citizens. The object is to ‘restore’ the law-abiding status of a fellow citizen.

Restorative justice allows victims to tell offenders the real impact of the crime, to get answers to their questions and receive an apology. It also gives offenders a chance to understand the true impact of their actions and do something constructive to repair the harm they have caused. This is often done in a conference-like setting where the victim and offender meet. Restorative justice is a promising way to achieve more effective criminal justice.

Evidence suggests victims and offenders alike report higher satisfaction with restorative meetings. Restorative justice has reduced reoffending by up to 25 per cent in contrast to alternative measures. And there is welcome news for any government interested in making savings as at least one study found £9 could be saved for every £1 spent through restorative justice.

This success is a product of hearing more voices. Victims can express the impact of crimes on them and this communicates an important message to offenders they need to hear. One central way to reduce future reoffending is to make perpetrators more aware about the harm they cause.

But offenders benefit as well because we hear their voice, too. This can help identify not only what steps they might take to address their past crimes, but also how we might help them overcome future criminality. This is because we can better target the needs of victims and offenders through a restorative conversation about the past with a view to the future.

But there remains a serious hurdle for extending the benefits of restorative justice more widely. This hurdle is that the current practice of restorative justice does not include imprisonment as a possible option. This limits its applicability to cases of relatively minor crimes and youth offenders.

Some argue the public simply won’t support their greater use. The worry is restorative justice might be seen as a ‘soft touch’ where offenders might ‘escape prison’.

This rests on two mistakes. The first is thinking what people want is harsher, not better, justice. If restorative justice can effectively reduce reoffending and criminal costs while improving victim satisfaction, then this is an approach that can win public confidence.

The second mistake is failing to include a greater punitive element in restorative justice, or what I call ‘punitive restoration‘. If victims, in line with magistrates, have some power over the offender’s punishment, including suspended prison sentences, restorative conference could be used more widely and could help further reduce reoffending.

Victims have a say on outcomes in restorative meetings and the effects have been highly promising. It is time to expand the range of possible outcomes to include a more punitive element. This can ensure restorative justice is not seen as an easy option without undermining the success this approach might build on further.

We can and should improve public confidence in criminal justice by giving victims a greater voice in sentencing decisions through a restorative justice model. Justice need not require victims are silenced, only that they don’t have the only say. Restorative conferences and punitive restoration offer an important new perspective on how justice can be achieved.

See ProgressOnline piece here and YourBritain website.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

CFP: Global Justice and Global South

CFP: Global Justice and the Global South

April 25-27, 2014
Nyaya: The Global Justice Programme at the University of Delhi  In partnership with the Macmillan Global Justice Program, Yale University & Centre for the Study of Global Ethics, University of Birmingham Overview: Nyaya: The Global Justice Programme at the University of Delhi, has been launched in part as a means of bringing more South scholars and students into the global justice dialogue, as well as to increase opportunities for engagement and networking in South countries for theorists and students worldwide.

Nyaya’s inaugural conference will be held April 25-27, 2014 at the University of Delhi. It will bring together global justice theorists, philosophers, development scholars and NGO representatives from South and North countries to present original work and share their views on key issues. Themes include, but are not limited to, cosmopolitan theory and local traditions, especially in South countries; extreme poverty, social exclusion, health inequalities, human rights, protection from violence, the effects of climate change, illicit financial flows and gendered inequalities.  Participation: Please submit a paper proposal including your name, affiliation and an abstract of 300 words or fewer to Submissions will be considered continuously until Jan. 15, 2014, and notification of acceptance status will come in most cases within two weeks.

Funding is available for domestic travel for participants in India. A limited number of stipends are available to fund overseas travel for junior scholars. To apply for funding, please submit a CV, your paper abstract and a brief statement (300 words or fewer) of your interest in participating to

If you have general questions about the conference, please contact Ashok Acharya at or Rosy, Conference Coordinator, at

Conference Organizers:

Ashok Acharya, University of Delhi

Thomas Pogge, Yale University

Luis Cabrera, University of Birmingham

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Discussing EU migration with the BBC

. . . on BBC Radio Tees (here from 2hrs 8 mins).

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Many thanks to Edinburgh's Centre for Law and Society

My thanks to the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Law and Society for hosting my talk - "Unjust War Theory" - as part of their series on global justice. Some terrific questions and discussion that I found very beneficial. A highly recommended group!