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Jennifer Welsh Jennifer M. Welsh is Professor in International Relations at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Somerville College. She is a former Jean Monnet Fellow of the European University Institute in Florence, and was a Cadieux Research Fellow in the Policy Planning Staff of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. Jennifer has taught international relations at the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the Central European University (Prague). She is the author, co-author, and editor of several books and articles on international relations. Her current research projects include the evolution of the notion of the ‘responsibility to protect’ in international society, the ethics of post-conflict reconstruction, the authority of the UN Security Council, and a critique of conditional notions of sovereignty. Jennifer was the Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Massey College (University of Toronto) in 2005, and is a recent recipient of a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship and a Trudeau Fellowship. In 2006, she joined the Board of Trustees of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, and in 2008 became a member of the Editorial Board of the BISA Series in International Relations at Cambridge University Press. Jennifer has served as a consultant to the Government of Canada on international policy, and acts as a frequent commentator in Canadian media on foreign policy and international relations. She has a BA from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Masters and Doctorate from the University of Oxford (where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar).

Where R2P Goes From Here

| August 21, 2013
Where R2P Goes From Here

Professor Jennifer Welsh was recently appointed Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect. To mark this achievement, we asked Jennifer to share her thoughts on the opportunities and challenges to furthering the development of R2P.

What responsibilities will you be taking on as Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect? 

The role of the Special Adviser is to provide advice and guidance on both the conceptual development of R2P, and its concrete implementation. In more specific terms, this involves: an annual report to the General Assembly on an aspect of R2P’s implementation; a strategy for embedding R2P within the UN system; ongoing assistance to states, governmental, and non-governmental organizations in their efforts to implement R2P; and responses to particular, ongoing crises involving either the threat or commission of mass atrocities. More …

Summit in the Shadow of Syria

| June 17, 2013
Cameron and Putin

Over the years, G8 Summits have become important symbolic moments for demonstrating the solidarity of leading industrialized countries in addressing not only economic issues, but also political and military ones. The annual meeting also offers the host country an opportunity to galvanize the support of G8 members to advance initiatives of particular concern. And so it was at the 2005 Gleneagles Summit that then U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair drew on the backing of his peers to denounce terrorism in the wake of the London bombings, and to champion aid to Africa. More …

Crime and Terrorism

| May 24, 2013

“We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings nor stamp out every danger to our open society.”

– President Barack Obama, May 23, 2013

These words, spoken during the U.S. president’s major speech  yesterday on counterterrorism, encapsulate the feeling of many British citizens about the brutal attack that occurred on a London street earlier this week. There is little doubt that the hacking to death with a meat cleaver of a 25-year-old man was the embodiment of evil. But how else are we to characterize the actions of Michael Adegolajo and Michael Adebowale, who, rather than fleeing the scene, relished the real-time filming of their violence and waited for police to arrive? More …

Is the War on Terror Ending?

| May 23, 2013

Later today, in a major speech on current U.S. counter-terrorism policy, President Barack Obama will take concrete steps to try to reverse the impression that he has continued, rather than halted, some of the more controversial policies launched by his predecessor in waging the global ‘war on terror.’

To begin, it is reported that Obama will reiterate a pledge to close the prison for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The delay in implementing this 2008 election promise has disillusioned many American liberals, and raised questions about the current government’s commitment to the rule of law. More …

Red Lines in Tel Aviv and Washington

| May 6, 2013
An Israeli jet

Israeli airstrikes on Syria in recent days have brought the varying interests of outside actors in this long simmering conflict into sharp relief. While in Washington Obama administration officials continue to weigh options and assess the risks of intervention in a civil war, in Tel Aviv policymakers have acted swiftly and decisively to safeguard Israeli security. Indeed, sources in the U.S. claim that the Obama administration was not warned about impending Israeli attacks and learned of them after the fact. The powerful air assault of May 3 – the most significant since the violence began two years ago – was described by those on the ground as akin to a massive earthquake. More …

Thatcher’s Wars

| April 9, 2013

The death of Baroness Thatcher, one of Britain’s most influential Prime Ministers of the twentieth century, has re-launched a fierce debate about her impact on her country’s economic, political, and social life. But Margaret Thatcher was more than just a national figure; she also stood out as a key leader of the world’s liberal democracies, which had endured a difficult decade in the 1970s. More …

How Iraq Changed How We Think About Human Rights

| March 19, 2013
How Iraq Changed How We Think About Human Rights

Ten years ago today, on the 18th of March, British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed the U.K. Parliament as part of its charged debate over the impending war against Iraq. While many of the reflections on the war, a decade on, stress the importance of American neoconservatives, we must remember that the military intervention in the spring of 2003 was also supported by many liberal internationalists, including Prime Minister Blair.  In both neo-con and liberal internationalist circles, Iraq’s suspected weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were always a means to add weight and urgency to a deeper, moral argument in favour of the use of force: the avoidance of future human rights abuses against the Iraqi people (of the kind Saddam had perpetrated before) and the potential to bring democracy and greater political freedom to Iraq and to the wider region. More …

An Election With Consequences

| March 8, 2013
An election with consquences

Six years ago, things looked different.

In December 2007, disputed election results triggered what was arguably the worst crisis Kenya has experienced since achieving independence from colonial rule. The weeks of violence claimed more than 1,000  lives and forced an estimated 600,000 people to flee their homes and villages. It also resulted in significant economic repercussions for the broader east African ‘neighbourhood’. Kenya has long been seen as a bright light in an otherwise troubled continent, and is considered a key Western ally in the ‘war’ on both terrorism and piracy. The country’s reputation for stability made the events of that winter even more unsettling. As a result (and unlike the genocide in Rwanda almost two decades previously), the international community’s response to the events in Kenya was unusually robust, and involved, among other things, a high-profile mediation effort, led by former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. (Indeed, the international reaction to the 2007-8 post-election clashes in Kenya is often held up as a successful application of the principle of the ‘responsibility to protect’.) Annan’s intervention resulted in a power-sharing agreement between the two main rivals in the election, former President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, which led to the adoption of the 2008 National Accord and Reconciliation Act, designed to prevent future crises by addressing deeper causes of the violence. More …

Third Time’s An Alarm

| February 14, 2013
A man walks past a display illustrating the damage a 1MT class nuclear weapon would cause if detonated in Seoul

On Tuesday, after an emergency session convened by South Korea, the United Nations Security Council issued a unanimous condemnation of North Korea’s nuclear test – the third in a series of provocations (the first in 2006, and the second in 2009) that have entrenched the country’s isolation. South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, who currently holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency, called the underground nuclear explosion a “clear threat to international peace and security” and warned that the council would take “appropriate measures.” Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, reinforced these calls for a “swift, credible and strong response” from the international community to North Korea’s increasingly bellicose stance. More …

Targeted Killing on Trial

| February 8, 2013
Bring drone warefare out of the shadows

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of activity aimed at achieving greater transparency and accountability with respect to the U.S. government’s practice of “targeted killing” (primarily through the use of drones).

To begin, the UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, announced in late January the launch of an investigation into the “civilian impact” and “human rights implications” of drone attacks and other targeted killings by the U.S. and other states. The rapporteur claimed that such attacks pose a serious challenge to the existing framework of international law, and therefore require the development of new legal mechanisms to regulate use and ensure accountability. He also warned that if states engaged in drone attacks do not establish effective, independent, and impartial investigations of their actions, it might be necessary for the United Nations to do so. (Note: The UN investigation will examine 25 different cases of drone attacks, not all directed by the U.S. However, it remains the case that U.S. policy is a main focus of attention, particularly for China, Russia, and Pakistan, the three states that called for the investigation within the Human Rights Council). More …