Belgium week of our Global Governance Summer School concludes on a (World Cup) celebratory note

LEUVEN – Final sessions of our 2018 Global Governance Summer School‘s Belgium leg came to an end yesterday, even as the country’s national team vaulted into the final four of the World Cup.

Day 5 of the summer school, devoted to Global Security Governance,  began with a lecture by Dr. Nicolas Hachez. He is a Fellow at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven, with which we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, partner to present the Global Governance Summer School. Hachez’ lecture began with an historical account dating to Aristotle, and ended with a survey of contemporary challenges to rule of law and democracy. (Just below, he listens to a response from Georgia Law student Brooke Carrington.) The presentation provided a valuable recap of many issues raised at the high-level RECONNECT conference our students attended earlier in the week.

Next, yours truly, Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law, one of our Center’s Faculty Co-Directors, and a founding Co-Director of the Global Governance Summer School. I introduced the concept of Global Security Governance, which incorporates within its analysis of human, national, and collective security insights from traditional international law subfields like human rights, the laws of war, and development law.

Our Center’s Director, Kathleen A. Doty, offered an overview of legal regimes related to disarmament and weapons control, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Then, as pictured at top, she led our summer school students – variously educated at Georgia Law, Leuven, and several other European institutions – in a spirited, simulated, multilateral negotiation for a new treaty to curb an imagined new development in weapons technology.

The week’s classroom component concluded with a lecture on “Global Governance, International Law and Informal Lawmaking in Times of Antiglobalism and Populism” by Leuven Professor Jan Wouters (right), Jean Monnet Chair ad personam EU and Global Governance, Full Professor of International Law and International Organizations, Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, and founding Co-Director of our summer school. Touching on concepts and issues introduced throughout the week, Wouters exposed shortcomings of classic international law. He further urged greater acceptance of the significance of informal lawmaking actors, norms, and processes, which form the core of global governance studies.

Leuven and Georgia Law students, faculty, staff, and friends then enjoyed a conference dinner, plus a live, and lively, screening of the Belgium Red Devils’ 2-1 World Cup victory over Brazil – then headed to Oude Markt to celebrate with other denizens of this lovely city.

Global Governance Summer School students at high-level conference on project aiming to RECONNECT Europe

Yesterday’s sessions of our Georgia Law-Leuven Centre Global Governance Summer School were devoted to a new, 4-year research project aimed at reinvigorating core values of the European Union.

Called RECONNECT: Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law and supported by funds from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme, the project has just been established by KU Leuven’s Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and 17 partner institutions.

Our summer school’s morning began at a classroom in Leuven, where Michal Ovádek (left), a Leuven Centre PhD candidate and research fellow,  provided an introduction to the structure of, and contemporary challenges, to European Union integration. Among them are the efforts of recently elected governments to undermine judicial independence, free press, and other democratic institutions in Poland and Hungary, as well as the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which a slight majority in the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.

We then traveled to Brussels’ neoclassical Academy Palace, home to the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts and the site of an afternoon conference launching the RECONNECT project.

Leuven Law Professor Jan Wouters, whose many titles include Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and Co-Director of our summer school, opened the conference (top photo). Stating that “the EU and its members are confronted with an existential crisis,” Wouters explained how “RECONNECT will intervene in the public discourse, to build a new narrative for Europe.” The EU can “regain authority and legitimacy through democracy and the rule of law,” he said, “provided citizens’ views taken into account.”

Delivering keynotes were H.E. Didier Reynders, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs & European Affairs – who urged, as a way to reconnect, emphasizing that the EU is not just an economic project, but also based on values and principles – and Dr. Adam Bodnar, Ombudsman of the Republic of Poland.

Two policy roundtables followed:

► “Strengthening Democracy in the European Union,” chaired by Julie Smith and featuring Alberto Alemanno, Richard Youngs, Zselyke Csaky, Vivien Schmidt, Carlos Closa Montero, and Amichai Magen.

► “Addressing Rule of Law Challenges in the EU,” chaired by Laurent Pech and including Tamas Lukacsi, Philip Bittner, Peter Claes, Lotte Leicht, Petra Bárd, and Dimitry Kochenov.

Many speakers revisited developments in countries like Hungary, Poland, and post-Brexit UK, touching on issues ranging from freedom of speech to social media, economic anxiety and political processes. Europe’s responses to global migration both within and outside its borders, was another topic frequently mentioned.

In a particularly moving presentation, Lotte Leicht (3d from right), EU Director for Human Rights Watch, told of seeing, at a middle school where she recently spoke, signs saying “Be Kind” and “Treat One Another as You Want to Be Treated.” Commenting that youths “get it,” she proceeded to outline problems and to welcome innovative solutions.  Yet Leicht cautioned against adopting perceived solutions that would have negative effects:

“It is a redline when we start undermining the rule of law and our obligations under international law.”

Our stay in Leuven concludes tomorrow, after sessions on related to human rights and security governance – and, fittingly, after tomorrow night’s World Cup contest between Belgium and Brazil.