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IAO Speaker Addresses the Paris Climate Accord

The campus International Affairs Organization, whose members are primarily International Studies majors, hosted Wil Burns on October 20, 2016 for a talk on “The Paris Climate Agreement: Where Do We Go from Here?” Dr. Burns is the Co-Executive Director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, a scholarly initiative of American University. He also serves as the Co-Chair of the International Environmental Law Committee of the U.S. Branch of the International Law Association. Dr. Burns described the provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015 and which would enter into force in November 2016. He also addressed the problems and shortfalls of the agreement in terms of its stated objective of “keeping a global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further.” Professor Burns completed his BS in Political Science at Bradley and was a member of the debate and speech teams. He also holds a PhD in International Environmental Law from the University of Wales-Cardiff School of Law.

2016-2017 International Humanitarian Law Campaign

Given the global, national, and human security implications of the world’s refugee crisis, it is imperative to raise awareness of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as it applies to refugees. This is the primary focus of Bradley’s 2016-17 IHL Campaign directed by the campus International Affairs Organization. The campaign directors chose to emphasize the Syrian case, given the urgency, geopolitical importance, and controversy of the crisis and the millions of refugees it has generated. It kicked off on November 1 with a presentation by Qutaiba Idlbi. Mr. Idlbi is co-founder and Operating Manager of People Demand Change. He also was the research assistant to the Director of Refugee Services at the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, an associate with Caerus Associates, focusing on governance and security developments in Syria, and the associate producer for the “Red Lines” documentary with Spark Media. Qutaiba is a native of Damascus. He was in Syria at the outbreak of protests in March 2011, detained twice by Syrian internal security services, and was eventually forced to leave the country. Mr. Idlbi discussed the peaceful democracy protests in Syria beginning in 2011 in response to the Arab Spring movement, the Assad regime’s subsequent violent crackdown on the protests, and the evolution of the conflict into violence, civil war, and the rise of ISIS. He drew on his personal experience as a democracy protester who was twice detained and tortured by the Assad regime, and also analyzed the role of Russia in the conflict as well as the ensuing refugee crisis. The lecture was co-sponsored by the Institute, Bradley’s Muslim Student Association, and the Bradley Center for Legal Studies. In subsequent IHL programming, the IAO executive board arranged for student training by the Central Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross on International Humanitarian Law pertaining to refugee rights. These students then conducted training of other interested Bradley students, who in turn made presentations to educate Bradley and ICC classes, area high schools, the Peoria Area World Affairs Council, and the Center for Prevention of Abuse.

Role of the International Criminal Court is Discussed

On March 6, IAO welcomed Professor Paul Diehl, the Ashbel Smith Professor of Political Science and Associate Provost and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at Dallas, for a lecture, “International Criminal Court: Misplaced Fears and Unintended Consequences.” Diehl noted that now, 15 years after it came into existence, we can look at the record of the Court and draw conclusions about its performance and likely future. Many of the worst fears, especially those held in the US, have not come true. Nevertheless, he contended, the ICC has experienced a number of problems that were not anticipated by its founders but threaten the continuing existence of the court and its effectiveness.

 

Focus on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

 In April, IAO organized two events aimed at drawing attention to the Syrian refugee crisis and its consequences for the US and the world. The initiative commenced with the showing of the movie, “After Spring.” The film illuminates the refugee crisis following two families in a refugee camp and the aid workers fighting to keep the camp running. Viewers experience what it is like to live in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan--the largest of many camps hosting Syrian refugees. With no end in sight for the Syrian conflict or the refugee crisis, the families profiled must learn to rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent.

 One week after the showing of “After Spring,” IAO organized a panel discussion on the plight of Syrian refugees. At this event, Dr. Robert McKenzie, an expert in forced migration and refugees and refugee resettlement and integration, and senior fellow and founding director of the Muslim Diaspora Initiative at the New America Foundation, discussed refugee rights, the implications of the refugee crisis in Europe and beyond, and possible policy responses. Ms. Roya Naderi, HQ Director at the Karam Foundation, discussed the work of this non-profit in supporting Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as internally displaced persons in Syria. Ms. Akhras Sahloul, founder and Executive Director of the Syrian Community Network, discussed the plight of refugees in the United States and her organization’s work in resettling Syrian refugees in the greater Chicago area. Dr. Jeanie Bukowski moderated the discussion.

International Studies Majors Participate in Globalization Symposium

Two IS majors presented papers at a symposium on “Governing Globalization” at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The event was organized through the Joint Area Studies Centers initiative and held on March 31 and April 1. Two graduating IS majors, Kelsey Burge and Andrea Winn, presented papers as part of the program on undergraduate research. Kelsey’s paper was titled “The Price of Globalization: Combating Human Trafficking” and Andrea’s was titled “Transitioning to Globalization: Hezbollah’s Use of Social Media.” Kelsey and Andrea were mentored by Institute Associate Professor Jeanie Bukowski who also chaired a panel on “Challenges to the Global Society: Energy, Environment, and Resources,” and made a presentation on “Contextualizing Globalization for Students and Citizens” in a second panel.

IS Major Wins Research Award

Andrea Winn ’17, was the recipient of the Dean’s Award in the Social Sciences at this year’s Student Research Expo. Andrea’s paper, “Evolution of the National Identity of the Islamic State,” was mentored by Professor Chuck Bukowski. The paper was a revised version of her senior thesis, for which she received the Howard Award for Research in International Studies at the annual IS/IAO awards banquet on April 23.

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