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Paul Troop

Kony 2012 and Saying What You Mean

Kony 2012 has become the highest profile issue of international justice on social media by far. For those without a Facebook account, Kony 2012 is a slick 30-minute YouTube film about Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army. The video explicitly seeks to mobilise support for efforts to arrest Kony, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, particularly against children. As I type, the video, released Monday, is approaching 70 million views. The video has also attracted a fair share of criticism, much of which I’m not sure is honest.

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Sergei Lavrov’s Deontology

In Syria, Assad has sought to silence protests against his dictatorial regime using violence. Refusing to be cowed, the protests have resisted. The regime has since escalated the violence. As I write, the Syrian army continues to use massive force against a mainly civilian population. There is little doubt that serious crimes are being committed. After months of ignoring the situation, the West is finally beginning to sympathise with the plight of the Syrians. Yet an emasculated Security Council resolution was thwarted this week by the vetoes of Russia and China. Since then, various explanations have been offered to justify this stance. However, one justification in particular struck me.

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Killing With Drones, Proportionality, and Trolley Problems

Reports of killing by drones are increasing. Initially they were exceptional, now they are commonplace. Every few weeks there is a report of another killing, invariably by the US, in some far off country. With the rapid pace of technological development, the investment being made into more and more autonomous systems, and little sign of this trend being checked, it can only continue. The ethicality and legality of such practices outside international armed conflict is extremely dubious. In the context of international armed conflict the practice is checked only by the concept of ‘proportionality’, a concept that is problematic generally, and is almost entirely unable to discharge the heavy burden that is imposed on it by the practice of drone killing.Read More »Killing With Drones, Proportionality, and Trolley Problems

Should ‘Ecocide’ Be a Crime?

Today, my colleague Michael Mansfield QC appears in a mock trial in the Supreme Court that considers the crime of ‘ecocide’. The project is the brainchild of lawyer Polly Higgins. Ecocide is defined as: ‘The extensive damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.’ To me, creating some type of crime like this seems a no-brainer, but I think making this a crime in any meaningful sense will be particularly difficult.

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Unpalatable Theories about Falling Crime

The US crime rate continues to fall. There is no consensus why this is so, but there are a range of diverse theories, ranging from gun control, higher incarceration rates, the collapse of the crack cocaine epidemic, and ‘zero tolerance’ policing. While the diverse theories are interesting, so too are the different reactions that the theories provoke. Despite the difficulties in objectively assessing the theories, all theories are not equal: some are particularly unpalatable.

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Sequel to ‘Human Centipede’ Refused Certification

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has refused to certify the sequel to the film the Human Centipede I haven’t seen either film, though I was intrigued enough by the title of the first film to read the description when I was browsing in my local DVD store, though I immediately wished I hadn’t – it is pretty disturbing. The original story is of a surgeon who becomes obsessed with creating a ‘human centipede’ by attaching his victims together, mouth to anus.

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A Judge’s Breakfast

Legal Realism has been caricaturised as a school that believes that judicial decisions are made according to what the judge has had for breakfast. Research conducted in Israel suggests that this may not be so far from the truth.

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Herbal Placebos

The seven-year period within which member states must implement the EU directive on herbal medicine ends next month. In the UK, the government last week announced that herbalists will now be regulated by the Health Professionals Council (HPC). The HPC is the body that currently supervises a number of health professions including paramedics and physiotherapists. The effect of the decision has been to trigger concerns, particularly from medical professionals, that the move will confer legitimacy on treatments with no proven benefit. But if the government is going to permit herbal medicine, then there are in fact grounds to make it as plausibly medical as possible.

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