UCLan Cyprus Trip – Willem C. Vis International Arbitration Moot Competition Blog – Victoria Wells

“Two goddesses now must Cyprus adore; The Muses are ten, and the Graces are four; Stella’s wit is so charming, so sweet her fair face, She shines a new Venus, a Muse, and a Grace.” Callimachus


My absolute delight at being chosen to take part in the Willem C. Vis Moot competition was quickly matched by our arrival in Cyprus. A beautiful Island, occupied by wonderful people, Cyprus gave our team the very best environment to absorb our International Arbitration training and practice our mooting skills against the UCLan Cyprus sister team.

Our daily commute from Larnaca to the impressive UCLAN University campus in Pyla gave us chance to soak up the gorgeous Mediterranean Spring countryside and indulge in some fascinating local political history (courtesy of our resident UN and Human Rights expert Glen Woodroffe). The UN buffer zone, a stone’s throw from the University campus, was a reminder that the island still lies at the heart of an ongoing geopolitical malaise.

Our evenings were filled with wonderful company, fabulous regional cuisine and an evening aperitif (or two). This oiled the wheels of our creativity and we were often found in deep International Contract Law debate, until the early hours. Our tutors, Susan Fletcher and Glen Woodroffe, provided the perfect guidance and mentoring to keep us on track in our legal strategy and style.

The Annual Island Law Society ball in Nicosia also coincided with our stay and the Law Staff and Students organised our invitations. We all attended, looking striking in our cocktail gowns and lounge suits. The event was not only a wonderful networking opportunity but also provided a fascinating lecture from the Attorney General of Cyprus. The lecture discussed various factor exacerbating political and economic corruption. As Law students, this provided a useful insight into the potential role of the legal profession as both gatekeepers and facilitators of this toxic aspect of public life.

The final moot between UCLAN Preston and Cyprus was an exciting morning. Our Arbitrators were local distinguished legal professionals, who added a real flavour of expertise and professionalism to the event. Oralists from both Preston and Cyprus gave great performances and did themselves proud, but most importantly we all gained a huge amount of learning and mooting experience.

P1100983Our stay on the Island was coming to an end, but not before we visited Limassol and the town centre offices of a prominent Island Law firm. Limassol was also hosting the yearly Carnival, an event that can be traced back to Hellenistic times and that has endured, as a Christian Pre-lent festival, celebrating hope and optimism. The exuberance, costumes and music would match any Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras and our wonderful lecturer, Susan Fletcher, briefed and accompanied us so we were well prepared for the celebrations, in our oversized glasses and Masquerade masks.

Not a moment of our time was squandered, and even as we made our way back to Paphos airport, we managed to take in the sights of hundreds of local wild cats, a beautifully restored 18th Century mosque, wild pink flamingos and 2000-year-old Greek tombs.A final meal at a wonderful seafood restaurant overlooking the port of Pathos, rounded off perfectly, one of the most enjoyable and significant learning events of my life!


Attacking Liberal Values in the USA and the UK: are Entrenched Constitutions a Suicide Pact with ISIL?

In March I attended a conference of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy at Barry University Law School in Orlando, Florida. There, I presented a paper comparing the UK’s constitutional responses to terrorism with those of America’s.

As most students of Public Law will know, the UK doesn’t have a written constitution. More appropriately, the UK’s constitution is written ie it is comprised of a multitude of written sources such as Acts of Parliament, case law, international treaties etc, it’s just not codified, meaning they aren’t all in one document. In contrast, the Constitution of the United States, dating from 1787, is written and codified. It is also ‘entrenched’ meaning it is very difficult to amend. Article V requires, for example, 3/4 of states of the United States to approve an amendment. Hence, the ongoing issue about failures to curb gun ownership because of the right to bear arms, as per Amendment II of the Constitution.

But in terms of either war or public emergency America’s Constitution is seemingly lacking provisions allowing for its temporary suspension, to protect itself from threats that seek to destroy it. There is one provision, however: in Article 1, section 9, of the US Constitution Congress may suspend the constitutional right of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion or invasion. Abraham Lincoln famously exercised this power during the Civil War in 1861. But was this unconstitutional since it was an act of the President, not Congress? Lincoln countered by saying that he was, in fact, saving the Constitution, not destroying it.

Post 9/11 and the rise of Islamist terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, is this limited protection of the Constitution sufficient to prevent terrorists from seeking to destroy it? Perhaps the UK’s ‘uncodified’, ‘flexible’ constitution (as opposed to the ‘rigidity’ of the US’s in allowing amendments in only very limited circumstances – see above) is more suited to reacting to threats that seek to destroy it? Since 2000, the UK has introduced a plethora of statutes addressing the threat of terrorism: the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. The premise of my research was that the US Constitution was too inflexible to counter threats that sought to destroy it, unlike the UK’s flexible constitution. Was the US Constitution, therefore, in a ‘suicide pact’ with the terrorists? But when I started researching this question, it soon became apparent that this was not the case: the ‘form’ a constitution employed did not seem to affect a state’s response to terrorism.

Since 9/11 the US has enacted the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT) Act 2001, which has been reauthorized several times by eg the USA PARIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act 2005, the USA PARIOT Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act 2006, the PATRIOT Sunset Extension Act 2011 and the USA Freedom Act 2015. Non-PATRIOT legislation includes the Homeland Security Act 2002, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act 2004, the Military Commissions Act 2006 and the National Defence Authorization Act 2012. Extra-territorially, the US has also been involved in extraordinary detention, abducting terror suspects around the world, and taking them to detention centres such as Guantanamo in Cuba for ‘enhanced interrogation’ ie ‘torture’. In addition, through their drone programme, the Americans have eg killed notorious terror suspects such as Anwar Al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2010 and, via a special forces operation, have killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. The President has also issued several Executive Orders pertaining to terrorism: 13224 (2001), 13354 (2004), 13425 (2007) and 13780 (2017). Thus, the conclusion of my paper was that, notwithstanding the apparent limits of the ‘rigid’ US Constitution to protect itself, this has not stopped the Legislative and Executive branches from introducing wide-ranging counter measures at home and abroad to keep Americans safe.

There were several other great papers at the conference. Of these, I particularly enjoyed ‘Verbosity: the Expanding Legacy of the Roberts Court’ by Professor Meg Penrose from the Law School at the Texas A&M University in Fort Worth. Meg was particularly concerned at the length of judgments given by Justices of the US Supreme Court, so much so she had drawn up a code for them: ‘A, B, C’. ‘A’ was for ‘accuracy’; ‘B’ was for ‘brevity’ and ‘C’ was for ‘clarity’. Inaccessible laws are a threat to the Rule of Law, as any Public Law student will know. On the issue of brevity for example, Meg noted that the US Constitution itself was only 4500 words but recent key judgments of the US Supreme Court eg Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010) were in excess of 50,000 words – ten times longer than the US Constitution! Indeed, the recent ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), allowing same-sex couples to marry, was longer than 19 of Shakespeare’s plays! In comparison, one of the most famous cases at the US Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), outlawing states’ racial segregation in schools, was less than 4000 words.

On the issue of Obergefell, another presentation I particularly enjoyed was ‘An Obergefell Right to Military Service Eligibility’ by Professor Eric Merriam of the University of Central Florida. Eric was saying that, traditionally, discrimination in the military – eg age, gender, sexual orientation – was lawful. Perhaps this was due either to deference shown to the military or a particular class in society was simply ‘wrong class, wrong time’. But the current decision of the administration of President Trump to exclude transgender persons, in particular, from being eligible to serve in the military was unlawful, in his opinion, because of the reach of the judgment in Obergefell. Eric noted that he was simply discussing ‘eligibility’ to serve, since taking his argument further the US simply could not afford to fund the rights of all potential Americans from actually serving in the military.


Dr Ian Turner

Reader in Human Rights and Security


Student/Prisoner debate 2018 – developing skills and eliminating barriers

By Katie Bingham, Third year LLB Law student, Chair of the first debate

For the second year running, a group of UCLan students and willing participants from a Category D male open prison have partaken in a scheme to enhance their social and debating skills. HMP Kirkham welcomed seven students and two members of staff into the visitors centre as part of the ‘Debating Differences’ initiative, and it was there that the first of four sessions debating current social issues began, facilitated by one of UCLan’s Criminology lecturers, Laura Kelly.

Both students and prisoners were asked to complete some preparation prior to the first session, which focussed on if voluntary euthanasia should be legalised in the UK. This comprised of reading some articles surrounding the topic and writing down individual thoughts regarding each side of the debate. On the day, participants were split into two teams, one in favour of the debate and one against it, and were given adequate time to formulate coherent arguments, as well as responses to the views of the opposing team during short breaks throughout the session. The structure of the debate encouraged all team members to have an opportunity to speak. One person would act as the chair of their team and they had the responsibility of introducing their group’s arguments and summing up the most important points in a concluding statement. The team as a whole were encouraged to take turns in explaining the arguments on their side of the debate and both groups did this extremely well. Throughout the debate, each participant was involved in suggesting, developing and presenting arguments to the other group and it was great to see the confidence of both teams increase as the session went on. It was also thought-provoking to hear the different views on what is a very controversial issue!

As one of the students fortunate enough to be taking part in the scheme, it surprised me how intelligent and articulate the prisoners were, and how much effort they had put into completing their preparation and participating in the debate. Most of them had a commendable academic background, which is not something that you would necessarily expect of a person who has broken the law. The prisoners gave a valuable contribution to the session and presented themselves as hardworking, knowledgeable and dedicated individuals.

Schemes like this allow common stereotypes to be eradicated and encourage people not to prejudge others based on their current situation. I’m confident that if more schemes like this were rolled out nationally, it would dramatically impact the way people think about prisoners and would prove that they are capable of providing a meaningful contribution to society.

I am already looking forward to the next session of the scheme and improving my debating skills further.


Debating Differences Reflective Log

My name is Nazneen Asmal and I am a part-time PhD student and part-time teaching assistant at UCLan. My job role in Debating Differences was to be a judge alongside another member of staff from Prison and decide at the end of the debate which group made a more convincing argument based on quality, knowledge and delivery of the arguments presented. After having judged the first session, I know this role is going to be a tough due to the excellent input everyone makes.


This experience has been a big eye-opener for me, from someone who has never been to a prison or even met a prisoner; this has changed my views on what I perceive prison and prisoners to look like completely. I admit, I am guilty of the stereotypical view, but having been to the first session, I now have a new found respect to those who are in prison; I am inspired, moved and motivated that sessions like these can be very beneficial and encouraging, especially when one of the prisoner at the end of the debate tells you that he now wants to go to university after getting out of prison! If debating differences is not a form of rehabilitation and inspiration to get into education, then I do not know what is!


Watching individuals grow more and more confident as the debate progresses within just the first session has definitely been a highlight for me. This has reinforced my belief on what an amazing opportunity this is; not just for those who are self-confident but more so for those who struggle with speaking in public but are getting involved and overcoming their fears in a safe environment where everyone works together in a team and all views are welcomed.


This session has also been a learning curve for myself, where I can take a step back and observe and listen in on the stimulating debate. It is extremely rewarding when the quality of the arguments presented are of a very high standard and such that I would not have thought of myself, indicating what a group of enthusiastic individuals can achieve when they work together and get involved. If the first session is anything to go by, then I cannot wait for the rest of them!



Is the Rule of Law a Universal Concept?

Ian Turner at CSIPSIn November 2017 I presented a paper at a Rule of Law conference at the Centre for the Study of International Peace and Security at the University of Westminster in London. The title of the conference was ‘Democracy and the Rule of Law: Relationships, Challenges and Conflicts’. I was presenting my further work on the security theory of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, 1588-1679. (For a previous summary of this theory, see: https://uclanlaw.co.uk/2017/10/23/security-from-islamist-terrorism-locke-and-hobbes-liberty-versus-tyranny/). At this conference, I was translating this theory of Hobbes into a collective right of security post 9/11, and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in particular. Unlike Sir Jeffrey Jowell (see below), the Rule of Law, for me, is not a neutral, value-free concept; it is merely a liberal construct reflecting a liberal bias within Constitutional law, which views the state as something individuals need to be protected from. I wanted to move the liberal, Rule of Law discourse away from an emphasis on individualism to considerations of collectivism, community etc.

Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC was the keynote speaker. Sir Jeffrey was a former Head of Law at University College, London (UCL), and Director of UCL’s Bingham Centre on the Rule of Law. It was an absolute privilege and an honour to hear Sir Jeffrey speak (despite our disagreements about the nature of the Rule of Law – see above). Sir Jeffrey is a legend of Constitutional Law scholarship having been responsible for writing the principal works on the Rule of Law for many years eg. ‘The Rule of Law Today’ in Jowell and Oliver, The Changing Constitution, 8th ed, 2015, Oxford University Press. The title of his keynote speech was ‘Is the Rule of Law a Universal Concept?’

Sir Jeffrey began by saying that the Rule of Law had received a bad press in recent years. Scholars such as Jeremy Waldron had described the Rule of Law as a ‘confused’ and ‘uncertain’ concept. But, for Sir Jeffrey, the Rule of Law’s continued importance was evident from the recent speech of Lord Reed in the Supreme Court in Regina (Unison) v. Lord Chancellor [2017] UKSC 51. Here the Lord Chancellor’s raising of court fees in employment proceedings was unlawful because of the degree to which it had been a denial of access to justice.

Sir Jeffrey reminded us of one of Constitutional Law’s foremost scholars, A V Dicey. For Dicey there were two important constitutional principles in the UK: Parliamentary supremacy and the Rule of Law. The latter served as an important constraint on the former. Sir Jeffrey noted that more recently Lord Bingham had identified eight key ‘ingredients’ of the Rule of Law; of these Sir Jeffrey wanted to concentrate on four: ‘legality’; ‘certainty’; ‘equality’; and ‘access to justice’.

‘Legality’ requires that we are all under the law; it distinguishes between arbitrary power and rule through laws. It includes the settlement of disputes through law. It also means government according to law; it controls the exercise of discretionary powers and ensures that these powers are exercised for their correct purpose. It permits some governmental discretion but is a constraint on that discretion.

‘Certainty’ permits accessible laws; laws can be changed but there must be a fair warning. ‘Equality’ means that the law is enforced equally between the rich and poor. Sir Jeffrey noted that some countries in the world like China and South Africa claimed to exercise the Rule of Law. But they were ‘legalistic’, they didn’t adhere to ‘legality’; indeed they didn’t subscribe to the fourth and most important element of the Rule of Law: ‘access to justice’. ‘Access to justice’ means a fair trial before an independent judiciary.

Are these four key ingredients of the Rule of Law ‘universal’? Between 2001 and 2011 Sir Jeffrey was the UK’s member of the Council of Europe’s Commission through Law (‘the Venice Commission’) where he assisted with the constitutional and public law of a number of countries. In 2016 the Venice Commission produced a Rule of Law checklist –http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2016)007-e – which continues to be translated into a number of different languages. For Sir Jeffrey the popularity of the checklist, particularly the intention of translating it into so many languages, clearly supported the idea that the Rule of Law was indeed a universal concept.

The four Rule of Law ingredients identified by Sir Jeffrey are all ‘procedural’. I asked him if he thought the Rule of Law should have a ‘substantive’ component. He was pleased with the question. In reply, he thought that human rights such as freedom from torture, Article 3 of the ECHR; a right to liberty, Article 5 of the ECHR; and a right to fair trial, Article 6 of the ECHR, were all examples of the Rule of Law acting ‘substantively’. Indeed, he thought ‘access to justice’ had a substantive component as it allowed individuals to pursue claims of a substantive nature in court. Another question from the audience about the Rule of Law was whether Sir Jeffrey thought that it was an example of ‘natural law’ ie it was a ‘higher order’ law. To this Sir Jeffrey believed that it was; he identified with natural law. He said Lon Fuller (eg the Morality of Law, 1964) was his PhD examiner and, when he was Head of Law at UCL, he persuaded Ronald Dworkin (eg Taking Rights Seriously, 1977, and Law’s Empire, 1986) to leave the University of Oxford and join him at UCL.

There were other presenters at the conference. After Sir Jeffrey’s presentation, I particularly enjoyed the presentation of Mariya Ilyas. Mariya is a Master’s student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Boston, USA. The title of Mariya’s presentation was ‘Religion in American Democracy’. Mariya was critiquing the continued references to Christianity in American democracy, notwithstanding the separation of church and state when the new United States was first created. Examples Mariya gave included: the God-like images of the first President of the US, George Washington; the Christian references in the US ‘pledge of allegiance’ ie ‘one Nation Under God’; and the motto of the US, ‘in God We Trust’, inscribed on the back of the US One Dollar bill. Christianity also featured heavily in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, and the speeches of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in particular; as well as the terror actions of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in using burning crosses. God Bless America!

Dr Ian Turner

Reader in Human Rights and Security


‘Intolerance, discrimination and terrorism: a theoretical re-engagement with human rights’

In May 2017 I attended a multi-disciplinary conference at the University of Gdansk in Poland. The theme of the conference was ‘Intolerance, Discrimination and Terrorism’ and was well attended by social scientists from across the world eg Australia, USA, China, Nigeria, Spain and the Czech Republic. As someone who teaches and researches human rights and counter-terrorism, particularly the balance between the two principles, this conference was an ideal opportunity to showcase my recent research on theories of communitarianism and their possible benefits for counter-terrorism thinking.

I particularly enjoyed the presentation given by Abraham Valera Laborda from the Department of Arabic, Islamic, and Oriental Studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid, ‘the clash of Islamic Movements After the Process of Political Change in the Arab World’. Abraham highlighted some real contradictions in the Arab region, particularly after the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011. Since the 1990s there has been a decline in Islamism generally, so much so that scholars have coined the phrase ‘Post Islamism’. But this has not worked for eg Hezbollah, the militant Islamist group in Lebanon, who continue to receive widespread grassroots support. How does Hezbollah therefore square its traditional Islamist power base, and its support for a political approach to ‘Shia Islam’, with its backing of a secular dictatorship in Syria?

The title of my paper was ‘Intolerance, discrimination and terrorism: a theoretical re-engagement with human rights’. According to the Global Terrorism Index 2016 significant factors causing terrorism, particularly in Europe, are socio-economic ones: inequality, youth employment and drug crime (p.5). Indeed, in Changes in Modus Operandi of Islamic State Revisited, Europol, 2016, the vast majority of terrorist attackers in Europe have been young men with a criminal past, who were not strict Muslims and only recently converted to Islam (p.8). This was therefore particularly apt at the time of the conference because it immediately proceeded the terror attack on Westminster Bridge in London. The attacker responsible, Khalid Masood, born Adrian Russell Ajao, was a Muslim convert, of African-Caribbean descent, with a history of violence spanning 20 years.

Historically, human rights are ‘negative’ ie ‘freedoms from the state’ eg ‘freedom from torture’, ‘freedom from slavery’. This reflects traditional liberal fears that the state is itself a threat to the human rights of the individual, see, for example, John Locke, The Two Treatises of Government, 1690, so individuals need protecting from it. But since the 9/11 attacks, for example, in New York and Washington, is the state still the principal threat to human rights and the security of the individual? In my paper, I argued that, following the year-on-year terror attacks in the UK and our European allies since 9/11, collectively we needed to be protected from non-state actors such as suspected terrorists, not the state, so ‘rights talk’ should move away from its traditional liberal perspectives which are excessively individualistic.

‘Communitarian’ theorists such as Amitai Etzioni eg The Spirit of Community: Rights, Responsibilities, and the Communitarian Agenda, 1993, and Rights and the Common Good, 1995, want to redress the balance between individual rights and social responsibilities, otherwise society is, and will continue to be, self-centred and driven by social interests. Noting the nature of recent Islamist terrorists in the West – many are recent Muslim converts – and the factors affecting their recruitment – inequality, unemployment, crime etc – I sought to justify communitarian thinking as a way of re-engaging with community and social groups, particularly individuals within them vulnerable to radicalisation and extremism.

Dr Ian Turner

Reader in Human Rights and Security

Staff at the development day at Brockholes, July 2017

Head of School Blog: Setting the assessment calendar

In a blink of an eye, term has not only started, but we are fast approaching the mid-way point of semester 1 and with that, the onset of the first assessments of the academic year.  I was speaking to some of you this week and the issue of assessment deadlines came up, with complaints about early assessments in some modules.  It became apparent that as students, you have no understanding of how assessment deadlines are set – because we had never sought to explain the process!  This blog aims to rectify that and explain the process of setting our assessment schedule.  It is an incredibly important task at the beginning of the academic year and one that is done in consultation with all staff.

Each course goes through a validation process every 4/5 years and as part of that, it is agreed how many assessments each module should have and what these assessments should be e.g. coursework, presentation, exam.  Each year, an assessment schedule is set at course level which states when each assessment should be handed in.  This is published to all of you at the beginning of the academic year so that you can plan your workload accordingly.  We are consequently, very reluctant to deviate from this schedule and will do so only in exceptional circumstances.

So, how is it set?  Well, we have to wait for Jupiter to align with Mars and then with a neap tide and the sun rising in the east …  No, it may seem that we leave it to fate but nothing is further from the truth.

In July this year, we had a staff development day during which we began to consider the 17/18 academic calendar.

Staff at the development day at Brockholes, July 2017

Staff at the development day at Brockholes, July 2017

Teaching schedules on foam boards with push-pins representing assessments

Teaching schedules on foam boards with push-pins representing assessments

In true Blue Peter style, the teaching timetable for each year of each course was put onto foam board and stuck up on the walls.  Push-pins were then given to staff with a different colour representing each type of assessment (red for coursework, yellow for presentation etc).  Module teams then put the pins onto the teaching timetable where they wanted their assessment deadlines to fall.  So far so good.

We then stood back and looked at the teaching timetable and the spread of the pins representing the assessment deadlines.  Inevitably, a lot of the pins were bunched together as most modules want to have a mid-assessment point and an end of assessment point.  However, overlapping assessment deadlines is one of the main things that you complain about, understandably, as this causes undue stress as you are unable to commit adequate time to each assessment.  The purpose of the foam boards and push-pins is therefore to ensure an even spread of assessment, throughout each course, over the academic year.  This allows you to give due attention to each assessment and reduces the stress experienced when multiple assessments fall on the same date/week.

Having considered the initial spread of pins, each course team then sought to re-position some pins so there was a spread of assessments throughout the academic year, reducing bunching of assessment as much as is possible.  Module teams negotiate as to who does what and when.  Compromise is key and the student experience is paramount. In doing this, staff know that whilst the deadline may not be ideal if we take the module in isolation, it is in the best place that it can be when we consider your workload over the course of the year.  You do not study one module at a time!

Consultation and negotiation as push-pins are moved and assessments are spread throughout the academic year.

Consultation and negotiation as push-pins are moved and assessments are spread throughout the academic year.

The push-pins and the foam boards are then translated onto a paper timetable and sent around to all staff for further consultation and comment.  Some more negotiation and tweaking occurs.  The schedule is then set and published to all of you.

So, it is a consultative process and every member of staff is invited to contribute and agrees on the deadlines.  By publishing the schedule at the start of the academic year, you can plan your workload and staff can ensure that appropriate material is covered for the assessment questions that they set.

Whilst we seek perfection, I have no doubt that we inevitably fall short.  We know that we can always improve and we always seek to do so.  We will take into account your feedback in setting the deadlines for next year – so let us know!

If there is anything else that you would like me to explain by way of a blog then email me jcanthony@uclan.ac.uk.

Onwards and upwards …

lord duckling