Thursday, 12 February 2009


I am now posting my international law thoughts at the International Law Observer blog, so anybody reading this will have to go over there for new content. There are a number of authors at ILO; I am the one called David McGrogan.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Meanwhile, Somewhere in South Asia

One of the world's longest continuing armed conflicts appears to be drawing to a close - at least in the semi-conventional sense in which it has been running since 1983.

The Sri Lankan civil war is an interesting case study which should serve to demonstrate why the realisation of social and cultural human rights - especially for minority groups - is so important. In that country over 25 years of war and tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of deaths resulted when a sizeable ethnic minority was denied the right to its own language and culture. If only one of the main goals of the human rights movement - constructive state-minority relations - had been adequately achieved, matters would have been very different.

Human rights law has, in Europe, morphed into an unwieldy and self-contradictory beast. The circumstances for which it was created - a chaotic, shattered international landscape split along idelogical lines - no longer exist on that continent. After the near-completion of its original goal, the human rights movement in Europe has thrashed around for fresh meat and managed to find some small morsels here and there - police powers, sexual harrassment, freedom of speech. But the capacity it has to genuinely change the world for the better has been mostly forgotten within the bounds of the EU.

Sri Lanka and countries like it show how much relevance the movement still has outside of The West. The denial of certain human rights was not a mere factor in the bloodshed - it was more or less the sole cause. What has happened since 1983 shows, in a nutshell, why international human rights law is so important and why it must be energetically enforced.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

By Way of Introduction

Things should begin with logical beginnings, and the logical beginning in this case is an introductory post.

I am a lawyer. I wasn't always by profession, and I still am not in the sense that most people probably envisage the word 'lawyer'. I am a legal academic and before that I was a legal translator; I also have the kind of mind (what I would call a legalistic mind) which views, analyses and judges reality according to certain standards - whether logical, ethical, or practical. I'm not much interested in theories or ideologies which attempt to explain the way the world is, except as historical or cultural curiosities. What I'm concerned about is the rules which govern our behaviour - some of them human-constructed, others not.

My academic research is centred around the ways in which culture and law interact, primarily in the field of international law. International law is like a microcosm for the whole of human history: in its evolution we can see, firsthand, how a group of disparate individuals (the 200 or so entities called 'states') molds itself into a society with rules, leaders and a government. However, whereas human societies evolved among groups of individuals of the same culture, with familial or other bonds, international society has and will develop among individuals with different cultural perceptions and traditions. This makes it uniquely interesting and is the reason why my research is centred on it.

The name of this blog is Anti-ideologism. It's a place for me to talk about current events and my academic research on a semi-regular basis, for people who might be interested. It will mostly refer to public international law, that is, international human rights law, the law of armed conflict, international criminal law and international economic law. Its name is a deliberate attempt to divorce my opinions from a political theory of any kind, and indeed I oppose political theories of any kind as pernicious and damaging. The blog should rather be seen as an attempt by a non-aligned person to apply his knowledge of the law to what is happening in the world.