EUPoLex Seminar with Owiso Owiso

Regional Inter-Governmental Organisations And International Criminal Accountability: Exercising Elements Of ‘Sovereign Authority’ In Pursuit Of Justice

The PhD project engages in a dual interrogation of the basis in international law for the exercise of elements of sovereign authority by regional inter-governmental organisations (RIGOs), and the application of this authority to accountability for international crimes. The research proceeds from the assumption that international criminal justice as a cosmopolitan project demands that a tenable conception of state sovereignty guarantees humanity’s fundamental values such as human dignity and physical integrity. Since cosmopolitanism emphasises the equality and unity of the human family, guaranteeing the dignity and humanity of the human family is not therefore a parochial endeavour, but rather a common interest of humanity. Accountability for international crimes is one way through which human dignity can be validated and reaffirmed where such dignity has been grossly and systematically assaulted. Therefore, while accountability for international crimes is primarily the obligation of individual sovereign states, this responsibility is ultimately residually one of humanity as a whole, exercisable through collective responses. As such, the research advances the argument that states as collective representations of humanity have an obligation to assist in ensuring accountability for international crimes where an individual state is either unable or unwilling by itself to do so.

In conceptualising sovereign authority and collective action by states, the research first examines the ‘contested’ authority of international organisations generally, and RIGOs in particular, to exercise elements of ‘sovereign’ authority, traditionally the province of states individually. This examination aims to determine the basis in international law for the exercise of such authority by RIGOs, and the general legal implications thereof. Applying cosmopolitanism as a theoretical foundation and a reconceptualised understanding of sovereignty which emphasises humanity and human dignity rather than state-centrism, the research then interrogates the practical role of RIGOs in the pursuit of international criminal accountability as a cosmopolitan project to validate the cosmopolitan values of human dignity, physical integrity and shared humanity. To test and apply the cosmopolitan arguments advanced, the research uses the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) as case studies, with specific focus on the EU’s role in the establishment, operation and administration of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), and the AU’s engagement with the proposed Hybrid Court for South Sudan. In so doing, the research grapples with the legal complexities of i) the EU exercising elements of sovereign authority ostensibly on behalf of its member states to facilitate the process of ensuring accountability for international crimes in Kosovo, a non-member state, ii) the AU’s proposed exercise of similar sovereign authority to facilitate the process of ensuring accountability for international crimes in South Sudan, a member state, and iii) the dynamics of allocation of authority between the EU and Kosovo in relation to the KSC and SPO, and the AU and South Sudan in relation to the proposed Hybrid Court.

The lunch seminar presentation will focus on the exercise of authority by the EU in relation to the KSC and SPO at various stages, that is, the investigative stage, the establishment stage and the operation stage, and also engage with the dynamics of allocation of authority between the EU and Kosovo in relation to the KSC and SPO.

Speaker bio

Owiso Owiso is a Doctoral Researcher in Public International Law at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, University of Luxembourg. In this capacity, he also delivers the Advanced International Law course in the university’s LL.M 1 programme. Owiso’s PhD project engages in a dual interrogation of the basis in international law for the exercise of elements of sovereign authority by regional inter-governmental organisations, and the application of this authority to accountability for international crimes. The project uses the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) as case studies, with specific focus on the EU’s engagement with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and the AU’s engagement with the proposed Hybrid Court for South Sudan. Owiso’s general research interests include public international law, international organisations, international criminal justice, transitional justice and human rights.

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Meeting ID: 677 6054 1561
Passcode: 340342