Genocide and the Ocean: Conceptualising their Relationship

What is the relationship between genocide and the ocean? This question invites critical inquiry into what it is we talk about when we talk about ‘genocide.’ On one level, genocide is a narrow and technical issue of international law that imposes liability for violence undertaken with the ‘specific intent’ to destroy a racial, religious, or national group in whole or in part. On another level, genocide is broadly invoked in moral and political discourse as the supreme act of human evil. In other words, contrary to existing international legal doctrine, genocide occupies the popular imagination as a ‘crime of crimes’ placed at the very top of an asserted hierarchy of harm. Recognising this multi-faceted deployment as an embedded feature of genocide discourse, the aim of this workshop is to explore where exactly the ocean fits within this scheme, especially considering the myriad of ways in which the ocean and oceanic forces can end and/or degrade human life on a brutally massive scale.

From the seemingly ceaseless drowning of refugees to mass deprivation caused by naval blockades to the devastation of coastal areas through climate change and its contribution to patterns of forced migration, such questions of maritime morbidity are of the utmost concern to today’s international lawyers. Can the current legal definition of genocide be applied or extended to account for these instances of violence? Does the current discourse on genocide systematically marginalise these forms of harm? Are alternative concepts needed to understand the contribution of the ocean to mass human death? What are the fundamental presumptions that create difficulties when theorising the relationship between genocide and the ocean? Through this workshop, we shall explore these questions (and more) by focusing on the nexus between atrocity, international law, and ‘the maritime’ through a broad interdisciplinary lens. Towards this end, we encourage submissions by experts in anthropology, geography, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, and related fields, in addition to international law.

This workshop will take place on March 20th, 2024 at the University of Kent, Canterbury with keynote addresses by Prof Itamar Mann (Haifa) and Prof Surabhi Ranganathan (Cambridge). A limited number of travel bursaries will be available for PhD students and Early Career Researchers. Selected papers will be submitted for potential publication in a special issue of the Journal of Genocide Research to be guest edited by Dr Vicky Kapogianni and Dr Eric Loefflad. Those interested in participating should send an abstract of 750 words maximum and a bio of 200 words maximum to Dr Eric Loefflad at, and should specify if they wish to be considered for a bursary, by December 15th, 2023. Applicants will be informed of the outcome by January 20th, 2024.

Potential Topics might include (but are no way limited to):

—Particular Vulnerability of Island and Coastal Peoples to Genocidal Violence

—Histories of the Maritime Dimensions of Slavery and Colonial Encounters

—Issues Relating to Refugees at Sea

—Addressing Violence at Sea through International Criminal Law

—Genocide and Naval Operations (Blockade/Bombardment/Sanction/Nuclear Weapons)

—Mass Deaths resulting from Destruction of Marine Environments and/or Climate Change

—How the Feature of the Ocean Shapes Forced Migration (and even Internal Displacement)

Panel Discussion: ‘Financial and economic crime in the Global South’

Illicit financial activities undercut economic growth across Global South countries and hinder development efforts.

This event will critically examine whether the current global financial regulatory framework is best suited to effectively combat financial and economic crime in the Global South. We will discuss recent trends in financial and economic crime, the evolving global standards and their implementation challenges in the Global South, and the unintended consequences of implementing global standards across different contexts.

Click here for more details and to register for the event.

The Hermit Problem: Autonomy’s role in liberating privacy from confidentiality’s grip

About the speaker: Paul Wragg is Professor of Media Law at the University of Leeds, a board member of Hacked Off, a member of the IMPRESS Code Committee, and is the co-host of The Media Law Podcast.  Professor Wragg’s work has been published in leading journals in the UK and abroad, such as the Cambridge Law Journal, Public Law, Sydney Law Review, Industrial Law Journal, the Journal of Media Law, and the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly.  It has been referred to by, amongst others, a House of Lords select committee on press freedom, the Australian Law Reform Commission, and mentioned in the Supreme Court. His monograph, A Free and Regulated Press. Defending Coercive Independent Press Regulation, was published by Hart Publishing in 2020. Additionally, he is the co-editor (with Professor András Koltay) of Comparative Privacy and Defamation (Edward Elgar, 2020), and (with Dr Peter Coe) Landmark Cases in Privacy Law (Hart Publishing, 2022).

When: Thursday 7th April 2022 at 17:00 – Doors open at 16:45 (JJ Thomson Ditchburn Lecture Theatre, Whiteknights Campus)

Registration: The hermit problem: Autonomy’s role in liberating privacy from confidentiality’s grip