School News AGS

Commencement 2017: "Lead Us Forward With the Knowledge You Have Gained from AGS!"
Wednesday, 07 June 2017 16:39

Read more...The American Graduate School in Paris celebrated its 2017 graduates during a Commencement ceremony that took place on June 2nd in the French Senate in Paris. Students from the United States, Canada, Nigeria and Uzbekistan were awarded a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from AGS, in partnership with Arcadia University. Some of them were also graduating with a dual Master's in Diplomacy and Strategic Negotiation from Université Paris Sud.

“Conferring our American degree in the French Senate to our students who come from around the world is a nice way to symbolize the international dialogue that we promote as a school of international relations and diplomacy,” said AGS’s president Eileen Servidio-Delabre. In her introductory speech, she emphasized the importance for countries to act beyond their own self interest: "Getting more than one gives: this is what most countries want. And this is not what makes International Relations, or the world, a better place. Solutions to disagreement should have no real winner or loser. Everyone should sacrifice something to resolve the issue. This is a far cry from ‘Let's get more than we give’ attitude."

The Commencement speaker this year was Georges-Vivien Houngbonon, the President of L’Afrique des Idées, an independent think tank dedicated to the political, economic and cultural advancement of the African continent. Houngbonon’s address focused on the importance of what he called “bottom-up” approaches in international relations, creating more opportunities to make a change in the world – which is the ultimate goal of our graduates as they are about to pursue their own career in international affairs.

Dr. Warren Haffar, Dean of International Affairs at Arcadia University, AGS’s academic partner, was not able to attend the ceremony this year but sent his encouragements to the graduates: “I wish you heartfelt congratulations from Arcadia University on the successful completion of your Masters degrees in international relations and diplomacy! As you enter the world with this very special skill set, our common future depends, perhaps now more than ever before, on your successful application of dialogue and diplomacy as a preferred form of engagement in international relations. Congratulations on all that you have achieved, and lead us forward with the knowledge you have gained from AGS!”

Following the conferring of degrees, Megan Pritchard, a graduate of the dual Master’s program in International Relations and Diplomacy and Diplomacy and Strategic Negotiation, gave a testimony of her AGS experience. She said: “One of the benefits of getting an education at AGS is the exposure we get to so many different opinions, beliefs, ideas and feelings. AGS is truly an international school. We have students coming from literally all over the world. [...] Being a student of IR, having so many countries and regions represented among my fellow classmates and professors has expanded my mind and has made me think about the world in so many new ways.”

Read the full transcript of Megan Pritchard's speech

See photo album on Facebook

Master's Student Presents at DAKAM International Conference on Security Studies
Monday, 15 May 2017 13:40

Read more...Chloe Bingham, a Master's candidate in the International Relations and Diplomacy program at AGS (Class of 2018), was accepted to present a paper at an international academic conference on Security Studies that took place in Istanbul in April. She was selected to receive a scholarship from AGS to support her conference participation. Below is a short piece she wrote to share her experience.

"On April 7th and 8th, I attended the International Conference on Wars and Military Conflicts, hosted by DAKAM in Istanbul, Turkey. DAKAM is the Eastern Mediterranean Academic Research Center that has hosted a number of conferences across a variety of disciplines, creating a forum for a network of scholars in Istanbul since 2010. They form their principles “on the basis of a critical perspective, an interdisciplinary approach and social responsibility.”

I was fortunate enough to present a paper I had written last semester for Dr. Ruchi Anand’s “Factors and Theories of Analysis in International Relations and Diplomacy” class. The paper centered on the Democratic Peace Theory, and whether or not it was sufficient to explain the lack of war between the United States and Saudi Arabia. While I had a fifteen-minute slot to present this term paper, others were presenting M.A. or even Ph.D. research in the same amount of time. Two conferences were taking place on the same day (International Relations and Terrorism Studies), so paper topics ranged as much as age and origin of the speakers (which was vast, to say the least).

For me, it was a “first” in several different ways. I had never presented at or even attended an International Relations conference previously. It was interesting to meet people from countries I had never met anyone from before, let alone visited. However, it was comforting to see scholars from all over, coming together to share research on terrorism and war studies in hopes of creating more peace in the world. Luckily, I was able to visit the historical sites of Istanbul while I was there for the conference. I was fascinated to not only see centuries of culture still intact (the only thing older than 250 years in Kentucky are our trees), but also to be a strait away from a continent I had never been so close to before.

The conference and trip as a whole had its ups and downs. My presentation was not perfect, many presenters (myself included) were faced with difficult questions, and travelling to an unknown place can always be daunting. However, I have never experienced anything like it before. I was able to present something I had worked hard on, represent my school and my old Kentucky home, become a published academic, and explore new places. Studying at AGS continues to open doors in the academic world, and I look forward to seeing where it takes me next."

Photo: courtesy of DAKAM

AGS Students Participate in International Negotiation Simulation on Europe's Migratory Crisis
Wednesday, 10 May 2017 16:36

Read more...Like every year, AGS Master's students who have opted for the dual program in Diplomacy and Strategic Negociation joined their fellow students from Université Paris Sud for an international negotiation simulation. This year's mock negotiation took place in Beirut, Lebanon, and the theme was "Europe and the Migratory Crisis".

Sivan Ghasem (Class of 2017) was one of them. She shared her experience and a few photos with us.

"On April 3, 2017, AGS students playing the role of ambassadors to specific countries travelled to Beirut, Lebanon to take part in a negotiation exercise on the theme: 'Europe and the Migratory Crisis'.

The simulation brought together 47 students from many different origins, through three participating institutions: Université Paris Sud, the American Graduate School in Paris, and La Sagesse University in Beirut, which hosted the event. We decided our conference was best suited to take place in Beirut, as Lebanon hosts a tremendous amount of refugees and has done a great deal to aid those fleeing war.

Each student participating in the exercise represented a specific country or international organization. The aim of the exercise was to formulate a legal document in response to the migratory crisis Europe is facing at the moment as a result of civil wars, wars, famines, and general instability.

After hundreds of hours of work and compromise, our class was able to furnish a document with articles in regards to the crisis and promises from countries to help alleviate the issue and encourage European partners to take initiative. Some of the main topics we discussed were security, finance, and integration.

I, myself, represented Iraq. As the representative, my main goal was to attain funding. Iraq in general is in a precarious state. It is a host country for approximately 300,000 Syrian refugees and has 6 million IDP’s of its own due displacement induced by the Islamic State. On top of this, Iraq is fighting a simultanous war on international terrorism to dislodge militants from strongholds in Hawija and Mosul. Moreover, these were some of the positions and arguments I made during the time span of the exercise in an attempt to secure funding. Funding was essentially my main goal and position as the Iraqi representative because of the dire state of affairs of the country at the moment.

Subsequently, I was able to discuss with one of the leaders of the Gorran movement in Kurdistan in regards to the Iraqi position on refugees. Evidently, 97 percent of Syrian refugees are currently housed in the northern region due to stability and the political representative highlighted to me the issue of financing in a country that has been ravaged by sectarianism, terrorism, economic deficits, and general insecurity. In short, it is difficult for the northern region to sustain itself due to a lack of funds and resources and the pressure of IDP’s and refugees has further complicated matters.

After the negotiations, our group was able to visit a refugee camp in the northern region of Lebanon and experience first hand the sad reality of these displaced people. We met several families and listened to their stories. Most came from Homs and recounted their lives before and how the Syrian civil war took everything they had. Some of the children we met were born in the camps and refugee life was all that they knew; it was a sad reality and a rude awakening. The ones we met were considered the lucky ones because clearly they were able to escape. The Syrian war has taken hundreds of thousands of lives and the advent of the Islamic State in regions has only exacerbated the situation.

I was especially touched during this visit because my family spent some time in refugee camps as they escaped war. We were fortunate enough to be accepted by Canada and I was able to live a different life and become the person I am today because of my generous country. My parents arrived in Canada on Halloween of 1991. I was just an infant, but had we not left, I would have spent my toddler years in camps as my cousins and other extended family did in Iraq. During the visit I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am and how every refugee deserves the chance I had, but unfortunately this is not the reality."

This was especially highlighted during the exercise and the sheer complicated matter of the situation. Working with European counterparts was a rewarding experience but was difficult in the sense that Europe has its own issues such as a high unemployment rate and economic issues, therefore reaching a general consensus of accepting a certain number of refugees was understandable and proved to be a difficult task during our exercise. Nevertheless, the level of cooperation presented by Europe and the partner states afforded a final text that each country signed.

Finally, our exercise proved to be extremely valuable because as we have witnessed, instability in the region is not on the decline, and is in fact on the rise due to famines, climate change and brutal regimes. Our mock simulation was an attempt to alleviate these emerging challenges and find practical humane and rational solutions to a problem that is not going to go away any time soon.

12th AGS Conference Brings Together Scholars and Practitioners to Explore Non-Western Perspectives in International Relations
Friday, 21 April 2017 16:32

Read more...The 12th AGS International Graduate Student Conference that took place on April 21st was a success, with presenters and attendees from such diverse national origins as Thailand, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia, and India. The theme this year was Non-Western Perspectives in International Relations. As Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan state it, "Western International Relations theory has the advantage of being the first in the field, and has developed many valuable insights, but few would defend the position that it captures everything we need to know about world politics." The AGS conference brought together scholars, students, economists and NGO leaders to explore alternative ways to look at international politics and open the stage for innovative debates.

Professor Douglas Yates introduced the first panel by talking about how in the 1950s and 1960s, Western theories of Marxist and Capitalist development proclaimed a kind of unversality that was challenged in the 1970s by indigenous models of development (Asian, Islamic, African). These were criticized in the 1980s as unworkable romantic visions, that were abandoned at the end of the Cold War in the 1990s as Western liberal democracy and economic neoliberalism became hegemonic. In the 2000s, after the United States attempted to impose its values through the use of military force, there has been a renaissance of interest in non-Western theories, with Asian values presented as a possible alternative to Western hegemony.

The second panel was moderated by Patrick Clairzier, a Ph.D. candidate at AGS whose field of expertise covers political economy of developing countries, and global inequalities. Clairzier introduced the panel by demonstrating the necessity of expanding the global debate, which is the larger goal of this conference: "The historic rise in global inequalities that has occurred over the past forty years has been accompanied by high levels of poverty, environmental degradation and socio-economic instability in both developed and developing countries. This wide-ranging instability has set off an intense debate that questions the legitimacy and future of our global system. This seemingly growing rejection of Western ideals and the rebuke of the political and econ omic elite that controls the world’s wealth has also engendered a wide range of non-traditional and non-western perspectives that are helping to broaden the conversation and put forth new, eclectic and innovative approaches to solving these issues."

Finally, the keynote panel featured three economists: Marc Raffinot, a senior lecturer at University Paris IX-Dauphine in France and a member of the French Association of Economists; Georges Vivien Houngbonon, the president of a think-tank called L'Afrique des Idées; and Stéphane Tchasso Kpowbié Akaya, economic advisor for the Prime Minister of Togo. The panel was moderated by Bertrand de Largentaye, who teaches at AGS after a forty-year career holding various key positions in the French government. Marc Raffinot discussed the economic trends in emerging economies, particularly in Africa. Georges Vivien Houngbonon talked about the demographic growth of Africa and its great economic and innovation potential, while the the role that it can play in international relations remains limited since none of its countries has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This keeps them from being part of the decision-making process even when it comes to decisions about UN missions in Africa. Stéphane Tchasso Kpowbié Akaya gave a case study of Togo, where the government is designing a plan for how to create a national identity to take over the one that was imposed on them by European powers. The speakers went on to discuss the concepts of non-Western economic, particularly rejection of the GDP as a valid measurement of development.

The AGS International Graduate Student Conference focuses on a different theme of international Relations every year. It is organized by AGS students under the faculty supervision of Ruchi Anand. This year's student coordinators, Wanrawee Kruawan (a candidate in the combined M.A./ Ph.D. program) and April Ward (Master's candidate), many AGS students participated by presenting their research: Ph.D. Candidates Olivier Sempiga, Chidima Achudume, and Emirjona Cake, and M.A. Candidates Suneetha Musah and Lelan Evans.

Professor Anand says: "This year's conference did perfect justice to the intended theme and ideas. The rich layering of ideas, countries, continents, issues, debates and lenses powerfully reiterated the tearing need to start caring, talking and listening about;, theorizing about and doing something about the distanced, silenced, nuanced, neglected and often paradoxical perspectives of the world. We talked the talk, it's now time to walk the walk!"

See conference program and speaker bios.

See conference photos on Facebook

Guest Speakers from UNEP Talk About Gender-Specifc Impact of Climate Change
Friday, 07 April 2017 13:37

Read more...On April 6th, Dr. Ruchi Anand's class on International Environmental Policy hosted two guest speakers from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to talk about gender issues relating to climate change. The two speakers, Rahel Steinbach and Marie Jalabert, gave a presentation entitled "Climate Refugees: Gender-Specific Needs and Women Leadership".

Ruchi Anand gives the following summary of the talk: "Rahel and Marie's talk brought to the centre-stage the pressing need to adopt a gender-sensitive and gender-inclusive approach to issues of climate change and sustainable development. They clarified that the gender approach is not only about women but men as well. They discussed a range of different consequences for different stakeholders following impacts of climate change. According to them, the worst affected were the women. They used the example of 'climate refugees' to highlight this claim. 80% of the 22 million people displaced by climate- or weather-related events since 2008 are women. Their talk brought home the staring need for an approach to law, politics and environmental responses that embraces gender-sensitivity and responses. Alluding to the weaknesses of international law in updating itself to new realities, they pointed to the definition of the term 'refugee' in the 1951 Refugee Convention that does not include the idea of a 'climate refugee.' In an interactive talk, Rahel and Marie grappled with a range of student questions surrounding their subject matter as well as possible employment at the UN. A great talk that brought the practitioners to the home of the academics at AGS, a teaching approach that I highly recommend for today's students of political science and international relations."

Dr. Rahel Steinbach is an international development practitioner with expertise in sustainable development, climate change, sustainable energy, gender mainstreaming, and results-based management. She works as a Programme Officer at the United Nations Environment Programme in Paris, and also acts as the Gender Coordinator of UNEP's Economy Division. Prior to joining the UN system in September 2000, she served on a short-term basis as Legal Associate on Human Rights for the German Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She is an active advocate for sustainable development and gender equality, which has led her to lecture at various universities including Oxford University, University of Vienna, ISEG and the American Graduate School in Paris. She holds a PhD in Sustainable Development from the University of Vienna, Austria, a Master’s degree in Political Science from Sciences Po, Aix-en-Provence, France and a Master of Advanced International Relations from the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Austria.

Marie Jalabert is an international legal practitioner with expertise in environmental affairs, sustainable development, climate change, sustainable energy, and gender mainstreaming. She works as a Consultant at the United Nations Environment Programme in Paris. She previously served as a legal consultant on marine pollution for the European NGOSurfrider Foundation Europe, which specializes in ocean protection and coastal development. She holds a Master’s degree in International and European Environmental Law from Aix-Marseille University's School of Law, and a Bachelor in Political Science and Law from the Catholic Institute of Paris, France.

Coming Up: Second AGS Seminar on Religion and International Relations
Monday, 27 March 2017 14:34

Read more...On Saturday, April 22nd, AGS will host the second seminar in the series on Religion and International Relations that it started in February.

These seminars aim to bring together scholars, diplomats and graduate students to explore the links between religious beliefs and global politics. After the successful inaugural seminar on the theme of "Religion and State: A Troubled Relation", this second edition will focus on "Religious Minorities and Freedom of Religion".

It will feature Ambassador Michael Einik, US Senior Diplomat, along with Professor Manlio Graziano, AGS's specialist of the geopolitics of religion, Professor Christophe Grannec, a sociologist of religion at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and graduate students from AGS and Université Paris-Sud in France, and La Sapienza University in Italy.

Click here to see the program

If you wish to attend, please email and we will send you the practical details.

AGS Students to Participate in International Negotiation Simulation in Beirut, Lebanon
Friday, 24 February 2017 11:23

Read more...Like every year, AGS students enrolled in the dual Master's program in International Relations, Diplomacy and Strategic Negotiation with AGS's partner institution Université Paris Sud will take part in an international negotiation simulation along with their fellow students at Paris Sud.

This year, the simulation exercise will take place in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 3-7, on the theme: "Europe and the migratory crisis". It will bring together 47 students from many different national origins, through the three participating institutions: Université Paris Sud, American Graduate School in Paris, and Sagesse University in Beirut, which will host the event.

Each student will play the part of a diplomat from a specific country, international organization, or non-governmental organization that he or she has learnt about in doing research and writing a public dossier. In doing so, students have become acquainted with the specific goals and objects to fully interiorize their entities' stakes and become cognizant of disagreements between countries and obstacles in regards to important issues.

The final objective of this simulation project is to produce a relevant legal document that address the migratory crisis, which will then be forwarded to the European institutions so that they can be aware of how such negotiation could evolve as the need for multilateral talks on this issue has become more and more urgent.

This prospective exercise is unique in the academia and aims to apprehend political and humanitarian issues with states and international organizations' rationality. It has been held every year since 1994 by Université Paris-Sud – and since 1997 with AGS students through the two institutions' dual degree partnership. Previous simulations themes and locations have included, among others: "Crisis Management in the European Union" in Brussels, Belgium (2002); "Cultural Dialogue in the Euromed Area" in Alexandria, Egypt (2007); Environment and Sustainable Development" in Athens, Greece (2008); "The Economic Francophony" in Rabat, Morocco (2014); and "Establishing a Social responsibility and Interncultural Charter for the Media" at UNESCO in Paris, France (2015).

This project needs support to help some of the students to cover their travel expenses: you can find more information here.

More information on the dual program in International Relations & Diplomacy / Diplomacy & Strategic Negotiation

Scholars, Diplomats, Researchers, and Students Discuss the Influence of Religion on International Relations
Wednesday, 15 February 2017 23:05

Read more...The first edition of the AGS Seminar Series on Religion and International Relations on February 3-4 was a success, with over thirty scholars, diplomats, government researchers and graduate students who came from institutions in France and Italy, to participate in the presentations and discussions.

After opening addresses by Dr. Eileen Servidio-Delabre, Professor of International Law and President of AGS, and AGS Master’s Candidate Alexander Ybarra-Rojas, the co-organizers established the purpose of the seminar. Christophe Grannec, a sociologist of religions who works for a research group on religion and secularism at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), explained how the idea of this seminar emerged as a development of last year’s student conference on religion and international relations at AGS. Professor Manlio Graziano, AGS’s specialist of geopolitics of religion and the author of several books on the subject, emphasized the increasingly important role of religions in international politics and their comeback in the center stage of the public sphere, including that of secular countries.

Following the opening evening was a full day of presentations and debates moderated by Ambassador Michael Einik, a US Diplomat based in Paris who has been involved in diplomacy and foreign policy formulation from the administrations of Richard Nixon through that of Barack Obama, and currently teaches at the American Graduate School in Paris.

Some of the highlights include Professor Sophie-Hélène Trigeaud’s presentation of a study by the University of Kent (UK) about the influence and work of religious NGOs at the United Nations, and CNRS researcher Sabrina Pastorelli’s discussion on the role of religion in public debates in Europe.

The seminar also featured presentations by Master’s and doctoral students from the American Graduate School in Paris, Université Paris Sud (France), and Sapienza University (Italy), who explored specific aspects of the issue in various countries (Saudi Arabia, Italy, Nicaragua, and Egypt).

The second edition of this seminar series will focus on the theme "Religious Minorities and Freedom of Religion in the World".

Violence against Women in the European Union: The EU needs to adhere to the Istanbul Convention ASAP
Friday, 27 January 2017 11:44

Read more...An article by Eileen Servidio-Delabre
President of the American Graduate School in Paris

Two documents have been recently published treating the subject of violence against women in Member States of the European Union (EU). The first, a 2014 Survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the second, a 2016 Report from the Department of Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs of the European Union Parliament on: “The Issue of Violence Against Women in the European Union”. The Survey and the Report demonstrate the urgency for the EU to adopt minimum standard binding law in this area throughout the Member States.

This article will attempt to explain why it would be more productive and definitely more efficient for the EU to adhere to the Council of Europe’s (CoE), Treaty on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, than to begin legislating itself.

The CoE, which is the largest European human rights protector, set up a commission of experts at the end of 2008 to draft the said Convention that was adopted in April 2011, opened for signature in May of the same year and entered into force in August 2014 after its 10th ratification.

The preamble of the Istanbul Convention recognizes that violence against women is a “manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men”, that this violence is gender-based and is “one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared to men” and that this violence “constitutes a serious violation of the human rights of women and girls and a major obstacle to the achievement of equality between women and men”.

The goals of the Convention are to protect women, eliminate discrimination, create policies to help victims, promote international co-operation and co-operation between organizations and law enforcement agencies in order “to adopt an integrated approach to eliminating violence against women and domestic violence”.

Parties to the Convention are inter alia obliged to take all action necessary to eliminate this violence, take measures to promote changing society’s behavior towards women, to promote awareness of the issues, train professionals dealing in this area, take preventive measures, create treatment programs and to take all measures to protect victims from further violence.

The following acts are defined and Parties to the Convention are required to consider them as crimes: psychological violence, stalking, physical violence, sexual violence including rape, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, forced abortion and forced sterilization, sexual harassment.

Honor will not be considered a justification for such violence.[1]

Before arguing the importance of the EU to adhere to this Treaty, this article will highlight some of the information found in the two documents, the Survey and the Report, to situate the gravity of the problem.

2014 Survey[2]: The 2014 Survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) began with the premise that in spite of the seriousness of the issue in question “(violence against women) remains largely under-reported and relatively under-researched in key areas”.[3] The objectives of the Survey were therefore the following:

“– to provide the first EU-wide dataset on the extent, nature and consequences of violence against women, as reported by women, which can be used to inform policy and action on the ground;

– to highlight the manifestation of gender-based violence against women as a fundamental rights abuse in the EU.”[4]

The Survey interviewed 42,000 women in the 28 EU Member States regarding their personal experience of different forms of violence--physical, sexual and psychological violence including intimate partner violence--and the effect of this violence on them. The statistics gathered were hair-raising, what the Survey calls “a picture of extensive abuse” against women. In addition, it found that this violence was “systematically under-reported to the authorities”.[5]

A random sample of women aged 18 to 74 years old was used. The women were asked if they had experienced certain forms of violence since they were 15 years old.[6] According to the results, one in three women had had one or more experiences of physical and/or sexual violence during this time period. 11% of the women had suffered a form of sexual violence since the age of 15; the perpetrator being either a partner or someone else. One woman out of twenty had been raped (5%). In the twelve months preceding the interviews, an estimated 13 million women had experienced some form of physical violence while 3.7 million experienced sexual violence in the same time period. One in 20 women had been raped since the age of 15. That is, an estimated 9 million women in EU Member Countries have been raped and 1.5 million had been raped in the year preceding the Survey. Concerning intimate partner violence, be it sexual or not, the violence is often repeated over time.

The Survey references different sources to define the notion of violence against women and summarizes these with the definition found in the Istanbul Convention:

“ 'Violence against women' is understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and shall mean all acts of gender-based violence that result in, or likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in pubic or in private life.”[7]

The term “women” also refers to girls under 18 years of age.[8]

The Survey estimates that the majority of physical violence against women is gender-based violence and that non-partner sexual violence was “overwhelmingly” gender-based.[9]

Gender-based violence against women is defined by the Istanbul Treaty as “(…) violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately.” [10]

Statistics are broken down country by country. Characteristics, such as age, education, income and employment, of both the victims and perpetrators, are studied.

The Survey stresses the importance of legal uniformity in this area and regrets the lack of it; differences in definitions of the various forms of violence from one EU country to another, the differences in formal and social reactions to this violence. This situation adds to the difficulty of gathering exact data.

However, in spite of the differences, the Survey stresses one fact that seems to remain the same throughout the EU; violence against women is “predominantly” perpetrated by men and men are “overwhelmingly” the perpetrators of sexual violence against women.[11]

One of the suggestions in the Survey’s conclusions is for the EU “to explore the possibility of accession” to the Istanbul Convention it being “the most comprehensive regional instrument addressing violence against women”.[12]

Both the Survey and the more recent EU Report treat the different forms of violence against women as violations of human rights and not just common crimes.

2016 EU Report: As with the Survey, the Report underlines the lack of precise data in the EU, the important number of unreported cases, and the different legal definitions and reactions in this area from Member State to Member State. The Report considers that a uniform legal instrument in the EU is necessary.

Again, as with the Survey, the list of forms of violence treated in the report is long: all forms of violence including domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, psychological and emotional abuse, stalking (including cyber-stalking), forced abortion or sterilization, female genital mutilation, honor crimes, forced marriage. This article will relate the conclusions of the Report concerning only some of these crimes.

Virtually all statistics cited in the Report are from the 2014 Survey.

The Report uses the same definition of violence against women as the Survey, that is, the one found in the Istanbul Convention.

According to the Report, violence against women is perpetrated by men in order to “(re)establish women’s secondary position compared to men in an individual relationship and in society”.[13] It is a “denial of fundamental rights to women”. These are also the reasons the violence is “often sexualized”.[14]

The first form of violence cited is domestic violence (sometimes labeled ‘intimate partner violence’ since often the perpetrator is the husband or intimate partner of the victim). The Report again refers to the definition of the Istanbul Convention to define this crime:

“all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occurs within the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim”.[15]

Amongst the consequences of this form of violence, the Report not only cites the World Health Organization (WHO)[16] in stressing the “public health issue” involved but asserts that this form of violence against women:

“is likely to constrain poverty reduction efforts by reducing women’s participation in productive employment. Violence also undermines efforts to improve women’s access to education, with violence and the fear of violence contributing to (lower) school enrolment for girls. Domestic violence has also been shown to affect the welfare and education of children in the family”.[17] (Highlighted in Report)

According to the 2014 Survey, the fact that in the case of intimate violence, the violence “can take place over a long period of time and can involve various types of violent acts”,[18] one can conclude, as the Report does, that the violence and the fear of violence can have long and detrimental consequences on all members of the family unit, not just the direct victim.

Concerning sexual violence, the Report esteems that this form of violence not only causes physical injury and long-term health issues including reproduction problems but the victim’s mental state may be also dramatically injured. One must add to this the fact that in some cultures the victim may also be “stigmatized and ostracized” from society and even from their own families.[19]

One area in which the EU has taken steps is human trafficking.[20] Victims of human trafficking come both from outside and inside the EU. Although forced labor and sexual exploitation are the two major purposes of human trafficking, the Report mainly treats the latter. The Report cites the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): “the vast majority of trafficking victims globally are female”.[21] In the EU between the period of 2010-2012, 80% of all victims of human trafficking were female of which 69% were trafficked for sexual exploitation. Of all victims of sexual exploitation, 95% were female.[22] Concerning the traffickers, 70% were male.[23]

Once again, one must conclude that women are the victims and men are mainly perpetrators.

Although men are generally not the direct perpetrators of the crime of female genital mutilation (FGM), the Report emphasizes that:

“FGM is based and sustained by gender inequality. Women’s and girl’s “honour” is considered to be the property of men”.[24] (Highlighted in Report)

The Report noted that FGM is very under-reported in the EU and the Member States have very different reactions to this procedure.[25]

Again the Report cites the Istanbul Convention that stipulates that honor cannot be a justification for crimes committed.[26]

Concerning forced marriages, the Convention asks Member States to consider them as null and void:

“Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that marriages concluded under force may be voidable, annulled or dissolved without undue financial or administrative burden placed on the victim.”[27]

Here again, reporting on the number of such marriages in the EU is difficult. The Report also notes that honor crimes and forced marriages can be related:

“Honour killing can be a reaction to the victims’ resistance against forced marriage or may be committed to prevent a marriage that is considered unsuitable. Even if honour crimes happen only in a small minority of cases, compared to the total of forced marriages, these cases are of the highest impact”.[28]

The Report continues by underlining the costs of violence against women:

“Women who experience violence suffer a range of health problems and their ability to participate in the public life is diminished (…) Violence impoverishes women, their families, communities and nations. (…).[29] (Highlighted in Report)

It was estimated that in 2011 the cost of this violence was around 228 billion euros each year in the EU.[30] More importantly perhaps, as the Report notes, is the economic dependency of women often due to this violence—this most likely creates an environment which may permit the violence to continue particularly concerning domestic violence where the women is unable to leave the situation due to her economic dependency.

The Report then asks what causes this violence. It excludes some of the obvious motives such as the perpetrator experiencing violence as a child, alcoholism or drug addiction. It looks at other causes that have a better chance of being prevented:

“(…) authors agree on a series of inter-related factors which are primarily “manifestations of historically unequal power relations between men and women”[31]. In certain circumstances, cultural ideologies, as well as the patriarchal and sexist structure of society legitimate violence against women, supporting an inherent and necessary dominance/superiority of males.”[32] (Highlighted in Report)

Other causes include poverty and unemployment. Unemployment of the woman leaves her often economically dependent, unable to leave a violent situation. Unemployment of the man, particularly where the woman is working, can also lead to violence due to the threat against his ‘masculinity’.

This seems to be confirmed by a 2009 survey taken by UNICEF that concluded that an economic crisis “leads to an increase in violent behaviour against women”.[33] The reasoning for this is that:

“Violence against women is thus seen not just as an expression of male powerfulness and dominance over women, but also as being rooted in male vulnerability stemming from social expectations by manhood that are unattainable because factors such as poverty experienced by men.”[34]

The difficulty of data gathering in the EU due to the number of non-reported cases and also due to the lack of unified definitions of these different crimes from one EU Nation to another is an important issue for this Report as it was for the Survey.[35]

The Report then lists the multiple international legal instruments that target directly or indirectly violence against women: those of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and finally the EU. The number of legal instruments in force is a bit mind boggling and this is without mentioning the national legislative activity in the different States.[36]

Although the Report names numerous EU policies in this area based on EU Council recommendations, EU Parliament resolutions or the EU Commission strategies—it stresses that these are not binding. It calls for a EU legally binding instrument; “an integrated, harmonised and coordinated policy”.[37]

Istanbul Convention: An EU integrated, harmonized and coordinated legally binding instrument is tempting. However, the procedure for such an instrument would most likely take a considerable amount of time allowing for many more victims.

Violence against Women is firmly set in the domain of criminal law. Criminal law is probably the closest body of law to one’s beliefs, culture and history. Finding definitions for the crimes in this area that all 28 (or 27 by then) of the Member States agree upon would be a long drawn-out procedure; with perhaps no success at the end. Asking all Member States to agree on such language and adapt binding law seems more a pipe dream than anything that could happen in the near future.

Nevertheless, creating criminal law is one thing, accepting criminal law already in force is another. That is where the Istanbul Convention steps in. Definitions have already been agreed upon and accepted by many Nations. Moreover, of the 28 Member States of the EU, half of them, 14, have already ratified the Treaty; that is, the Istanbul Convention is already law for them. The following is a list of the Member States of the EU that have ratified the Treaty with the dates of ratification:

– Austria, 1/08/14

– Belgium, 1/07/16

– Denmark, 1/08/14

– Finland, 1/08/15

– France, 1/11/14

– Italy, 1/08/14

– Malta, 1/11/14

– Netherlands, 1/03/16

– Poland, 1/08/15

– Portugal, 1/08/14

– Romania 1/09/16

– Slovenia, 1/06/15

– Spain, 1/08/14

– Sweden, 1/11/14

Additionally, all other Member States of the EU have signed it.

On March 4, 2016, the European Commission proposed the ratification of the Istanbul Convention to “reaffirm the European Union’s solid commitment to fight gender-based violence”.[38]

This is a promising start. One can only hope that the procedure to ascension will not be stopped as it was in the case of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). And that in spite of article 6-2 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) that clearly states:

“The Union shall accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Such accession shall not affect the Union's competences as defined in the Treaties.”

This has yet to happen.[39] The EU is still not a member to that Convention due to a 2014 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).[40]

Just a word concerning this decision. A draft agreement had been sent by the Commission to the Court providing for the accession of the EU to the ECHR. In 1996, an earlier opinion of this same Court had already refused the ascension of the European Community to the ECHR. [41] However, at the time, the EC law did not provide for this. With the entrance into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, EU law has radically changed. Not only does article 47 (TEU) grant the EU a legal personality, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) states in article 216 the following:

“1. The Union may conclude an agreement with one or more third countries or international organisations where the Treaties so provide or where the conclusion of an agreement is necessary in order to achieve, within the framework of the Union's policies, one of the objectives referred to in the Treaties, or is provided for in a legally binding Union act or is likely to affect common rules or alter their scope.

2. Agreements concluded by the Union are binding upon the institutions of the Union and on its Member States.”

It was thus surprising that the CJEU in 2014 refused to accept the Commission’s proposal. The Court first decided that the case was admissible and then reminded all that the EU was not a State. After a rather complicated motivation, it concluded that the ascension to the ECRH was incompatible with EU law and this in spite of article 6-2 demanding this ascension. The main argument seemed to be that if the EU were a member of the ECHR, the EU “and its institutions, including the Court of Justice would be subject to the control mechanisms provided for by the ECHR and, in particular, to the decisions and the judgments of the ECHR”[42]. The Court insisted upon the impossibility of this:

“In particular, any action by the bodies given decision-making powers by the ECHR, as provided for in the agreement envisaged, must not have the effect of binding the EU and its institutions, in the exercise of their internal powers, to a particular interpretation of the rules of EU law.”

According to the Court, this would go against its mission “to ensure consistency and uniformity in the interpretation of EU law”. That is to say, the CJEU would no longer have the final word on interpreting EU law. This decision will be put aside for the moment.

The constituent Treaties grant the right for the EU to conclude agreements with international organizations. The essential question now is: Does the EU have the power to conclude an international agreement in the specific area of violence against women? Is this within the limits of its competence?

The competence of the EU is regulated by the principle of conferral. Article 5 (TEU) states and explains this concept:

“1. The limits of Union competences are governed by the principle of conferral. (…).

2. Under the principle of conferral, the Union shall act only within the limits of the competences conferred upon it by the Member States in the Treaties to attain the objectives set out therein. Competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States. (…).”

Thus, the EU can act only within its competence; competence expressly or implicitly granted in it constituent treaties; TEU and TFEU.

It has already been mentioned how linked criminal law is to socially acceptable tenets of each country. Criminal law is also considered the legal area that is the most territorial. A crime is a crime only if the territory (country) on which it is committed considers it a crime. [43] Criminal law is guarded jealously by States that see it as representing their sovereingty.

For these reasons, criminal law played little or no role in the European Community. However, it has crept in and the Lisbon Treaty has given the EU an unprecedented role in criminal law.[44] Article 83-1 of TFEU states that the EU can establish rules concerning serious crimes with a cross-border dimension:

“The European Parliament and the Council may, by means of directives adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension resulting from the nature or impact of such offences or from a special need to combat them on a common basis.

These areas of crime are the following: terrorism, trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of women and children, illicit drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, corruption, counterfeiting of means of payment, computer crime and organised crime.”

Some of these areas such as trafficking in human being and sexual exploitation of women and children involve violence against women. Also, cross-border crimes can take into consideration such crimes as forced marriages and FGM in some cases. However, other violence against women does not fit the cross-border condition. Nevertheless, the TFEU goes on to declare that other areas of crime may also be in the EU domain:

“On the basis of developments in crime, the Council may adopt a decision identifying other areas of crime that meet the criteria specified in this paragraph. It shall act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.”

Does violence against women have a legal basis in the TEU and/or TFEU?

The first paragraph in the preamble of the TEU speaks of “universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law”. The second refers to the EU “attachment to the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and of the rule of law”. These values are reiterated in article 2 stressing “the solidarity and equality between women and men (…)”.

Article 3 promotes the “wellbeing of its peoples”. Article 8 of the TFEU mentions the need to promote equality between men and women. Article 9 guarantees “a high level of employment, (…) of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health”. All which speak to the subject of violence against women.

Article 6 recognizes “the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted (sic) at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties”.

This Charter proposes to “strengthen the protection of fundamental rights”. Its first article stresses the notion of human dignity that is “inviolable”. Article 3 of the Charter states that all people have a “right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity”. Article 6 grants the right of “liberty and security” of each person. Article 21 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of one’s sex. Article 23 speaks of the “equality between men and women” that must be “ensured in all areas”.

And one can continue citing article after article that insists on the role of the EU to promote equality between the sexes and protect fundamental rights of its citizens. It would be hard to argue that violence against women does not fall under the competence of the EU.

Finally, article 21-1 sums up the action of the EU on the international scene:

“The Union's action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. The Union shall seek to develop relations and build partnerships with third countries, and international, regional or global organisations which share the principles referred to in the first subparagraph. It shall promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations. 2. The Union shall define and pursue common policies and actions, and shall work for a high degree of cooperation in all fields of international relations, in order to: (a) safeguard its values, fundamental interests, security, independence and integrity(b) consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law (…).”

Actually, almost every term used in (a) and (b) of this article could be referring to violence against women.

The 2011 Communication from the Commission suggests that the EU can “tackle gaps and shortcomings wherever EU action adds value” and that criminal law can play an “important role to ensure the implementation of European Union policies”. It stresses the fact that “where the enforcement choices in the Member States do not yield the desired result and levels of enforcement remain uneven, the Union itself may set common rules on how to ensure implementation, including, if necessary, the requirement for criminal sanctions for breaches of EU law.”

As the Survey and the Report underline, the harmonization of criminal law concerning violence against women is far from being satisfactory; definitions differ as do sanctions throughout the EU, if the act is sanctioned at all. And the consequences of this patchwork mixture of law from one Member State to another has been seen by the horrific statistics found in the Survey. Both these documents leave little doubt that the “desired result and levels of enforcement remain uneven”. The EU cannot continue to claim internally that it protects fundamental rights and promotes equality between the sexes when little is being done to achieve these goals.

Half of the EU’s population, women and girls, are neglected—protected in words only.

Since criminal law does reflect basic beliefs of society, the importance of it being consistent and coherent throughout the EU is essential. The Member States minimum standards should reflect the constituent Treaties goals. However, if precision is not given on how to achieve these goals in the Treaties—as is the case—then this precision must be found elsewhere. That elsewhere is the Istanbul Convention.

One final question: Will the proposal to adhere to this Treaty be doomed to failure as was the case with the ECHR? Will the CJEU refused to accept the proposal claiming that it must keep control of the interpretation of EU law?

The monitoring mechanism of the Istanbul Convention is described in detail in Chapter IX. A group of experts will monitor the State Parties implementation of the Treaty. This group, referred to as GREVIO, will be composed of 10 to 15 members elected by the Committee of the Parties amongst candidates nominated by the Parties. The Committee is composed of representatives of the State Parties. Based on a questionnaire prepared by GREVIO, Parties will report on their legislative and other measures taken to implement the Treaty. GREVIO’s findings are sent to the Party concerned and they may be sent to the Committee of the Parties and to the Committee of Ministers of the CoE. GREVIO may, when necessary, make general recommendations to the Parties. As can the Committee of the Parties. The Parties will submit these findings to their national parliaments. The Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE will also be asked regularly to “take stock” of the Treaty’s implementation.

According to these measures, it seems that the CJEU will still have the final word on EU law. The Istanbul Convention speaks only of recommendations; its power of control rather limited. In addition, the Treaty clearly declares that it will not “affect obligations arising from other international instruments” that the Parties adhere to.

The CJEU will lose no power and will not be subjected to binding external control. One therefore sees no legal reason to refuse the Commission’s proposal to adhere to the Istanbul Treaty and that as soon as procedurally possible.

Image credit: Charlotte Lyon

[1] One cannot do justice to such a detailed Treaty in a few paragraphs. Readers are encouraged to read the document for themselves.

[2] The Survey is a comprehensive study of the different types of violence in each Member State. This article cannot do justice to the amount of data that it offers.

[3] Survey, p. 7.

[4] Survey, p. 8.

[5] Survey, p. 3.

[6] Refer directly to the Survey for details of the method used and the results.

[7] Istanbul Treaty, Ch. I, Art. 3-a.

[8] Ibid, Art. 3-f.

[9] Survey p. 48

[10] Istanbul Treaty, Ch. I, Art. 3-d.

[11] Survey p. 7

[12] Survey, p. 167-168.

[13] Report p. 11

[14] Ibid

[15] Istanbul Convention Ch. I, Art. 3-b

[16] Enrique Garcia, Juan Herrero, Acceptability of domestic violence against women in the European Union: a multilevel analysis, Journal of epidemiology and community health, no. 2 2006. Pp. 123-129.

[17] Report p. 12. The highlighting in some of the quotes were in the Report unless otherwise indicated.

[18] Survey, p. 42

[19] Report pp. 13-14

[20] See Report, p. 16 for details.

[21] UNDOC, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2014, pp. 5-11, 29.

[22] Report, 15. It should be noted that 75% of the victims of forced labor were male. Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Report, p. 18.

[25] The Istanbul Treaty requires FGM to be considered a crime by all its State Parties.

[26] Art. 42.

[27] Art. 32.

[28] Report, p. 20 citing Prof. Dr. Gerhard Robbers, University of Trier. FORCED MARRIAGES AND HONOUR KILLINGS European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs 2008.

[29] Report, p. 20, quoting: UN Secretary-General, Factsheet Ending violence against women: from words to action, October 2006.

[30] Report, p. 21.

[31] Report, p. 21, quoting UNICEF, Domestic Violence against Women and Girls, Innocenti Digest 6, 2000.

[32] Report, p. 21.

[33] Maria Floro, Annika Tornqvist and Emcet Oktay Tas, The Impact of the Economic Crises on Women’s Economic Empowerment, Swedish International Development Agency: Working Paper Series, December 2009, pp. 45-47.

[34] Report, p. 22.

[35] Report, pp. 24-26.

[36] Report, pp. 27-40.

[37] Report, p. 41.

[38] Commission Européenne--Communiqué de presse, 20/01/17.

[39] As of January 20, 2017

[40] Opinion 2/13.

[41] Opinion 2/94

[42] European Court of Human Rights

[43] This principle has more and more exceptions though. It is considered essential that certain crimes be punished, no matter where the crime has been committed. For example, due to what is known as Universal Competence, crimes committed in one State may be prosecuted and punished in another State. Universal Competence is used particularly for the most serious types of crime such as crimes against humanity. There are other exceptions. For example, some countries recognize Active or Passive Personality Competence which allows them to judge and punish a person committing a crime on the territory of another country where the perpetrator or the victim has their nationality.

[44] A 2011 communication from the Commission stated that citizens in the EU considered the “fight against crime” as one of the most worrisome areas. Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions Towards an EU Criminal Policy: Ensuring the effective implementation of the EU policies through criminal law/*COM/2011/0573final*/.

Start of the Spring Semester
Monday, 23 January 2017 13:19

Read more...With the start of the Spring academic semester, we are happy to be welcoming our new students – and welcoming back our continuing students. As always at AGS, this semester's incoming students form a diverse group, coming from the US, Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, Oman, France, and Taiwan. AGS embraces this diversity of backgrounds and cultures as a part of the educational experience in the international relations program.

This semester, we are also welcoming a new faculty member: Larry Kilman will be teaching the NGO Management course. Mr. Kilman is Associate Director for Communications at the Institute for Media Strategies and the former Secretary-General of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). He worked as a journalist for more than 20 years in Asia, Europe and the United States, primarily with Agence France-Presse, Radio Free Europe and The Associated Press. He will share his expertise and enthusiasm by teaching the practical aspects of developing and managing an NGO, which complement the theoretical course on NGOs taught in the fall by Professor Ruchi Anand (the two courses together form the Graduate Certificate in NGO Management program at AGS). To support and enhance the scope of this program, Mr. Kilman has created NGO Blog, an information resource from the NGO community, for the NGO community, featuring NGO news, best management practices, information about grant opportunities, and other relevant materials to help NGOs succeed in their essential work.

A novelty of the semester includes a regular seminar series on religion and international relations, which will seek to explore the links between religious beliefs and global politics. These seminars are hosted by AGS with faculty and graduate students from AGS and other institutions, under the initiative of Manlio Graziano, AGS's specialist of geopolitics and geopolitics of religion, and Christophe Grannec, a sociologist of religions and a member of a research group on this subject at the French National Scientific Research Center (CNRS). The first seminar will be held on February 3rd and 4th; a few seats are open to the public on RSVP (

Other highlights of the semester include AGS's annual Graduate Student Conference, which will be held on April 21st. The theme this year is Non-Western Perspectives in International Relations; it derives inspiration from the non-Western students at AGS who often ask questions about the Western biases in international relations – another way to embrace, and get enriched by, AGS's cultural diversity. More information on the conference here.


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Tammy Fortier USA
Ph.D. candidate
School of International Relations

quote leftThe Ph.D. program at AGS provides both roots and wings : essential skills needed to ask effective questions, negotiate problems, find solutions ; and the challenge to go out into the world acting firmly, fairly and consistently in creating opportunities.quote right

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