New Internationalist Halloween Panel

Halloween 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of New Internationalist magazine. To commemorate this event, they organised a panel discussion to answer the question ‘What Does it Mean to be an Internationalist Today?’ As a recent subscriber to the magazine, I was fortunate to be invited to celebrate their birthday milestone by eating cake, drinking wine and listening in on a few bright ideas…

New Internationalist (NI) formed in 1973, following the arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. This historic moment amongst others led to the birth of an international movement concerned with implementing and protecting human rights. Current co-editor Hazel Healy briefed the audience about NI’s history, revealing that their original aim was to commit to the establishment of international relations. Forty years on, and Healy explained that their mission has changed and adapted according to the needs of our present society. Now the magazine focuses instead on tackling the imbalance of global power, hoping to encourage equality and instil a sense of global responsibility in order to achieve peaceful cohabiting.. The event acted as a platform for people of all backgrounds to come together, discuss the achievements of the magazine and consider NI’s future direction. The panel hosted an array of talents, with specialists of different interests and knowledge; authors, consultants, researchers, scholars, campaigners and entrepreneurs. 7 participants featured; Dan Smith, Jessica Horn, John Hilary, Nitasha Kaul, Asad Rehman ,Mariéme Jamme and a special video appearance from Jonathon Glennie. After each briefly introduced themselves, Hannah Pool went on to coordinate the discussion, posing various questions regarding NI and our current global situation, so that each participant could answer including their research and opinion.

To begin the discussion, Pool questioned the term ‘internationalism’. Although each of the panel had their personal definitions, it was mutually decided that with the impact of technology, the meaning has changed and evolved over time. Often, internationalism is considered a political movement that advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations, with the focus remaining on politics. However, Smith suggested that internationalism today has shifted from politics to people, and more particularly, to the importance of the individual. Therefore this leads us to think that the definition reflects upon society. Currently, with advancements in technology, we are able to communicate more readily between nations and thus, the implementation and protection of human rights is more possible, particularly through means such as international intervention. However, Horn argued that with technology, comes the loss of imagination – the lack of dreaming and creativity. In order to advertise internationalism, we must remember the importance of imagination in the fight for change. Internationalists primarily function on a personal level, dreaming for change for themselves, thus we must continue to ignite this creative flame in order to realise global change.

This in turn led the panel to question what is internationalism – a feeling, a movement, a political ideology? Perhaps internationalism can embrace the notion of solidarity, by creating a global community in which interests and rights can be protected and respected. Perhaps ‘new-age’ internationalism, based on the interests of people and not politics, would be motivated by compassion and not profit? However, Hilary reasoned that internationalism should first and foremost involve political action. In order for this movement to succeed, differing nations must align themselves with international political struggles and work with those that are oppressed. Furthermore, they should challenge their national actions and power, and consider the international impact of their national decisions.

Consider racism. Although there is a significant decrease in colonialism and we have come a long way to supposedly accept and establish a society no longer bound by race, there are still exceptions and opinions that would suggest otherwise. Therefore, the fight is on-going. It is crucial for us to ask ourselves, despite the 40-year landmark, how internationalist are we? Whilst we redefine ‘internationalism’, we should also reconsider our national priorities and review policies that favour first-world prospects, such as the US war on drugs to name but one. In reality, international inequality – dividing the rich from the poor – is rapidly increasing. In order to control this divide, we must stop prioritising national interests, limit using natural resources and facilitate fairer distribution of wealth. Glennie suggested creating a truly internal political platform to allow for discourse and to standardise the way of living in developing countries. Controversially, Kaul recognised that internationalism should eliminate borders, and called to impose a radical imperial anti-sovereignty. In order to create such a platform, we must think beyond the national state and reconsider the traditional and aged social order. Kaul suggests a reorganisation of the transnational political elites, questioning whether there is a link between knowledge and power. Perhaps it is time to rethink democracy? For, presently there is a disconnection between knowledge and people; we must rebrand the struggle in order to make it accessible and relevant to our generation and our society. Kind of what Russell Brand was saying with his comments about a social revolution! The world and all its nations are undeniably connected; therefore internationalism represents the united effort to fight global issues. Rehman claimed that 2013 is a period of movement, that now – if ever – is the time to act. With emerging reports, such as last month’s ICIC report and increasing events regarding global issues such as Reclaim Power Month (Oct/Nov), it is becoming increasingly easier to raise awareness and get people involved. Rehman said

Internationalism is not a choice; it should be how we define our struggle”

Following this introductory discussion, Pool redirected the panel to think what the NI’s future will be like, considering the technological advancements over the past 40 years. Undoubtedly, technology has the potential to increase and distribute knowledge. However it is unknown whether this will be able to eliminate fear in society and how this will affect the local culture. Already, the panel recognised the potential threat to locals and stressed the importance of preserving their culture. However, Kaul was quick to comment that minority and local groups may be increasingly subject to economic victimisation through the developments of technology. Thus, it is important to already consider the strengthening of policies in order to guarantee future protection.

Despite fear of the impact that technology will have on the local cultures, all the panellists agreed that technology has the potential to collapse the social order as it restores power to all and allows everyone to be represented more equally. This in itself will provide a great global shift, as those oppressed can (finally) express themselves. Yet, we must consider whether technology will redistribute power and wealth through representation. Increased communication between nations as a result of technology, will allow for the creation of ‘local realities’ and thus move us away from the dominant and powerful Eurocentric mind-set. This may result in new learning from international local cultures. However, Horn noted that technological platforms are mainly controlled by transnational companies, thus leading us to question whether this really is a step forward and away from the patriarchal-enforced world stage? Rehman who is a campaigner at Friends of the Earth (FotE) reveals that in effect, FotE is an exemplary independent federation. It succeeds in operating as an influential corporation yet remains internationalist, liberal and democratic, managing to represent the views of its employees. Perhaps FotE can be a model for the future of NI? Both attempt (and succeed!) in marking the distinct shift in power by seeking advice from the South, rather than the frequently sought North. In this way, technology should not be the difference, but the change in power as to how companies and people operate. Furthermore, technology can and should be used in a way to educate locals – through empowerment, connection and engagement with personal and global issues.

Finally, Pool answered questions from the crowd. The audience were most concerned with the labour behind the label so to speak, asking whether our power is only economic. This question referred to the buying power of the western consumer – how they remain uneducated and unaware of the inequalities that exist in the fashion industry, particularly teenage girls shopping absent-mindedly in department stores. As a society, we do not feel part of our global citizenship. Often we are not aware of the ‘other’ nor understand their struggle. Therefore, we cannot their reality. We need solidarity across borders and to remove the role of the nation in order to realise our role as global citizen. In this way, the local realities – made more accessible through technology – encourage us to recognise our personal global citizenship. Already, there is an increased awareness of our global responsibilities that trump that of the individual, such as climate change. It is thus important to fight at a local and global level, which is why campaigns showcasing global advertising are so important, such as those of Oxfam, WWF and Greenpeace. Social production opens new avenues for reproduction, and thus provides hope to unite the global community. Therefore, technological advancements will hopefully pave a way for understanding and communication between nations.

Ignorance is not bliss… it is curable

Overall, the panel provided a stimulating debate both amongst themselves and with the audience, leaving a lot of food for thought. After the discussion, there was a Meet-and-greet session, in which we were invited to wine and nibbles and to continue nurturing our ideas. It was an impersonal, friendly and approachable setting – an exemplary way to pass and share the global responsibility to the future generation that attended.


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Remember Remember, the 5th of November

Fireworks night is a popular celebration with many happily embracing the creeping cold, armed with heavy layers, food and wine, or perhaps a lover. Traditionally, we marvel at the display, ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ahhh-ing’ accordingly, enthused by the bright lights.

Demonstrators London 2013

However, this year’s November the 5th saw a return to the historical meaning behind the yearly-scheduled spectacle. The Anonymous Operation group (AnonOps) organised for a protest to take place worldwide, calling this movement Million Mask March. The idea was for the public to unite against the government in a non-violent way to remind the State of the people’s power. It would be a continuation of #OpVendetta, a call to extend the earlier international 15-M, Arab Spring and Occupy Movements. London’s event was located opposite the Houses of Parliament. Therefore, it served as a direct reminder of Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up the government through his Gunpowder Plot of 1605. London’s 2013 meeting thus also acted as an indirect threat, revealing the cracks and discontentment in our current society and leading many to question our future political stability.

Participating in the protest, I was amongst those who met at 6pm at Trafalgar Square, London. From here, there was a short, mostly silent march to Parliament with all sorts of passionate protestors holding up signs to publicise their beliefs. People wore masks and headpieces in an attempt to cover their faces and remain anonymous, as was the intended protocol for the protest. Once we reached Parliament, we established ourselves, taking to the streets and filling the Square. We remained like this for a few hours, with people chanting on megaphones, milling amongst themselves and becoming familiar with the different arguments.

In reality, the protest brought together a mixed group of people; even Russell Brand attended (his usual look decorated with the Anonymous mask). There were those who used it as an opportunity to self-promote – I bought a rap CD about the Bedroom Tax [find out more at] – and those who pragmatically distributed information and leaflets about politics and upcoming events, such as the People’s Assembly… There were passionate, radical protestors, many of whom were rather aggressive in their demonstrations and often confronted and provoked the police, but they were content to be amongst other more peaceful demonstrators, such as those who sought protection for badgers (a surprisingly large group!), students, friends who were reunited unintentionally and people that played music – both on the drums and through the megaphone (Get Up Stand Up by Bob Marley was a popular song choice). At one point there was a clearing and one woman started fire dancing to music, much to the enjoyment of the crowd, until the police broke up the spectacle. Later on, two girls dressed revealingly in rags and wearing what looked like Halloween make-up enacted a contemporary dance, snaking between the audience and the police, distributing snippets of information scrawled with handwritten messages such as “When the bodies are tuned together, we win”. The audience drew their own conclusions as to the purpose of the dance. People were united and free to talk to one another, ask questions and exchange ideas. In my eyes, the police were very understanding towards demonstrators; they passively accepted the protest and all its spectacles, instead peacefully watching it unfold in front of them, stepping in only to prevent danger, minimise conflicts and reorganise traffic.

Fire Dancer

Truthfully speaking, I thought the protest lacked structure. The Anonymous movement is iconic for its lack of leadership. Instead it favours “a loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives”[i], which is characterised by supporters wearing the appropriately stylised Guy Fawkes masks. Although anonymity is a trademark feature of this protest, anonymity created ambiguity among fellow demonstrators. Despite the conjunction of interests – from badgers to austerity cuts – there lacked a concise united feeling. People in attendance seemed confused by the various approaches offered and there was disorganisation spreading ideas about the post-protest assembly. Eventually, people became divided by rumours of a wrap-up meeting on the other side of the river. Some eagerly followed the alleged gossip, longing for a summary of the protest and some explanation to strengthen their sense of belonging. However, this confusion resulted in dividing the crowds and ultimately led to the early end of the protest.

Despite this seeming lack of united front, the protest was a success. The relatively peaceful carnival-esq vibe that ensued after the march reflected the original intentions and ideas of AnonOps. The Facebook page previously expressed that they wanted to “change the rules [of protesting], by turning this ‘new tradition’ of petition into more of a festival of ideas, performance art and symbolic new age discussion that has formed the political views of the youth of today.”[ii] In this sense, AnonOps achieved exactly what they set out to create. Effectively, a street party took place outside the Houses of Parliaments, and only 11 people were arrested, despite an estimated 2,000 in attendance. And of course, the detention of individuals is what the media concentrates on…

AnonOps have been running this yearly march since 2011 with numbers growing almost double each year! It is important to generate support for this movement, in order to mobilise social change and to be able to express the needs and desire of the public. Fireworks are a symbolic metaphor for the public’s voice, so let us be heard!

Join Next Year’s Event

Info re: Million Mask March

Info re: AnonOps

Info re: Gunpowder Plot, 1605

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Salgado’s Message To Us All

The art world is becoming increasingly diverse and provocative. Both audience and artist adopt an ‘anything goes’ attitude in which they willing accept the changing face of art. Often, the more obscure the artwork, the more determined we are to try and bring meaning to the piece.

Yet, Sebastião Salgado’s latest photo exhibition ‘Genesis’ in London speaks for itself. He is a Brazilian photojournalist, who is famed for his characteristic black and white photographs. The exhibition, recently held at London’s Natural History Museum, is unique. Usually Salgado focuses on the plight of people; however Genesis documents the simplicity and beauty of nature, hoping to remind the audience of the art that surrounds our planet.

Since his late arrival to the industry, acquiring his first camera at the ample age of 29[i], Salgado has used photography as a medium of expression. He deems it a “universal language”[ii] that can be accessed and understood internationally. His career has grown as a result, and he has made it his life’s mission to educate his audience through his artwork.

Thus, Genesis emerges, as a culmination of 8 years’ hard work. The museum room is divided into continents, marking Salgado’s travels – everywhere from Antarctica, Patagonia, Africa and Asia – purposefully avoiding cities and any hint of Western civilisation. The title and the subject matter suggest a return to the (literal) nature that preceded our consumerist societies and lifestyles; a throwback to the pre-civilisation that inhibits our current daily lives. In fact, I think that by holding the exhibition at the Natural History Museum, Salgado’s artwork is compared with other historical artefacts and collections, merely by association. This then evokes a cyclic quality as his photographs, through documentation, succeed in the preservation of nature.

Salgado & his creations

However, ironically, his exhibition has been deemed utopian[iii]. Critics have commented that rather than focus on the destructive nature of humans, perhaps as before, Salgado has instead intended to portray the beauty and unquestionable value of nature. Perhaps his vision is less utopian; perhaps he captures the imagination and freedom within nature. In the Antarctic section for example, Salgado explains how an iceberg sculpture transformed itself to embody a Scottish castle[iv]! Salgado hopes to reconnect the mystery and overpowering strength of nature. Perhaps by disconnecting our fast-paced lifestyles with these photographs, Salgado succeeds in separating and comparing the commercial civilisation of our city lifestyles with our more primitive brothers and their (co-dependent) relations with nature.

Antartic Scottish Castle

Salgado’s exhibition is a welcome reminder to the co-dependent relationship we have with nature. His exhibition acts as a visual stimulant to encourage his audience to take responsibility for our planet. At the end of Genesis, there is a large piece of writing that describes Salgado’s ‘Terra Project’[v], whereby he personally accounted for the destruction of part of the Amazon forest, and undertook the role of replanting trees. This project, his exhibitions and others, such as his TED talk videos, allow Salgado to continue travelling, documenting and preserving beauty in the world.

In conclusion, Salgado’s work looks past our current state of destruction. Instead, he chooses to focus on nature, which constantly surrounds us. His photographs are a visual reminder to open our eyes and be aware of the cycle of life. He actively urges us to participate in the international debate concerning our responsibility to preserve nature, and his exhibition, if anything, reinstates the speed at which things change. So, I say that we listen to Salgado, feel inspired by his artwork and find a project – be it large or small – to get involved with and help preserve. Our future relies on our actions!

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They say history has a way of repeating itself, the 1930s saw the rise of fascism in Europe thanks to the economic troubles brought on by the Great Depression. In harsh economic times it becomes easier, for anyone that way inclined, to encourage and exploit a sense of disillusionment with authority and to scapegoat certain groups in the endless hunt for someone to blame for the problems that really belong to the whole of society.

It is not surprising then that since the start of the financial crisis in 2008 political groups that promote fascist attitudes or have them as their core have seen an increase in popularity. One such group is the English Defence League, a violent islamophobic, anti-immigrant group who are rallied under the false banner of patriotism. The members of the EDL mistakenly march against the fact that modern British society is made up of many different racial groups. They spread their lies and their hate and, unfortunately, people are willing to listen as long as someone else is being blamed for their country’s problems other than themselves, and the group’s popularity has grown in recent years. It is predicted that in the 2014 elections, fascist political parties such as UKIP and the BNP will use issues of race as a divisive theme.


EDL members arriving in Leeds pre-protest

But, as ever, there is hope. It comes in the form of the E.D.L., or better said, the Real E.D.L.: the English Disco Lovers. This group is made up of those who are opposed to everything that the English Defence League represents. They are a pacifist group who promote their message of equality, integration and racial harmony in British society through the uniting power of disco. Their website ( sets out their goals clearly: to reach such notoriety that upon searching the term “EDL” in Google, they appear before the English Defence League. As well as this, they aim to have more likes on facebook and more followers on twitter than the hate group (the second of these three objectives has already been completed, so any twitter users should follow the English Disco Lovers at @EngDiscoLovers and, of course, anybody reading who doesn’t already like the English Disco Lovers on facebook should follow this link ( and make a stand against hate in modern Britain.


The Real E.D.L. having a boogie

On May 4th the English Defence League came to Leeds to protest against the opening of a new Islamic Community Centre in an abandoned pub on the Lingfield Estate in Moortown. The English Disco Lovers joined other anti-fascist groups in a counter protest. People from all walks of life attended the protest: students, professionals, Muslims, Christians and everything in between, all were united by a common cause: show the English Defence League that their message of racism and hate is not welcome in the city of Leeds. It was inspiring to see so many people coming together against fascism, there were many impassioned speeches made, the most powerful of which was by a student from a secondary school on the estate, despite students having been told to stay away from the protest for fear of violence breaking out.


The Community Centre in question


United members against Fascism

Thankfully, and in accordance with the English Disco Lovers’ values, the protest remained peaceful. Unfortunately, as much cannot be said for the members of the English Defence League, who saw four of their number arrested for being drunk and disorderly amongst other public offenses. A police officer posted outside the site of the future community centre confirmed that members of the League had managed to smuggle the severed head of a pig onto the march, which they threw at the building to make an anti-Islamic statement.

After the members of the English Defence League had marched back to their base, the representatives from all the anti-fascist groups that were present marched united to the site of the future community centre to show to the residents of the estate that fascist groups like the E.D.L. and the values that they represent are not welcome in the area. In fact, members of the English Defence League are the minority and shouldn’t be allowed to influence the community for the worse.

March to the Community Centre

They say history repeats itself, and this appears to be true as far as how fascism takes hold within a society. But we also have endeavoured to learn from the past, the telltale signs of growing fascist sentiment are all too clear. So, it is vital that we, the majority, show intolerant groups like the English Defence League that, in accordance with the real E.D.L.’s slogan “Unas mundas, unus gens, unas disco.” (One World, One Race, One Disco), they are not welcome in Leeds, not welcome in Great Britain and certainly not welcome in our discos. It is important to remember in the future that, should someone say to you they’re part of the Real E.D.L., don’t panic, because they probably just want to dance.

For more photos:

And a little video to capture the essence of the protest: 

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Afraid of growing old… ? Afraid of becoming ‘aesthetically’ ugly?
Well, fear no longer, instead EMBRACE the natural ageing process and aspire to the confidence that comes with experience….
A video about 4 incredible women who chose not to conform to the stereotype and who tell it how it is…

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May 2, 2013 · 11:12 PM

This week I watched an interesting film directed by Alex Rivera (2008) called ‘Sleep Dealer‘. It is a futuristic sci-fi film that comments on the social relations between USA and Mexico. Whilst it remains fictitious, it realises the potential threat of technology to our current societies. Drones are used as a means of structuring and thus threatening to potentially dictate the character’s daily lives.

I sadly only realised the existence of drones through their mere portrayal in this film. However, it encouraged me to further my research regarding the topic, leading me to find this rather accurate explanation of a drone [Drone Definition], and thus hoping to make us more aware of their actual implications within society.

Reading April’s issue of the’New Internationalist‘ magazine, I was shocked to read an article by Mark Engler entitled ‘A Nobel Prize for drone strikes?’  He comments on how little society knows or even cares about drones, particularly concerning countries outside of America’s ‘friendship circle’. According to Engler:

“UN reports [reveal] that drones fired 506 weapons in Afghanistan in 2012, up from 294 the year before. Obama claims that his administration has worked to reduce the number of civilian causalities. But is has done so partly by defining all military-aged men killed by a drone strike as legitimate military targets by default”

So it seems that anyone aged between 16-60 is eligible to be killed by a remote-controlled drone! What right do we have to dehumanise victims just because we have the money and technology to install such inhumane machinery as a means of state protection? Surely this method of ‘combat’ is totally disrespectful of universal moral standards, such as those mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created by institutions like the UN. With superior capitalist countries priding themselves on their international duty to intervene internationally (when deemed necessary), they continually fail to educate their own cultures about the uses of their latest technologies.

 With so much focus on celebrity culture, why does the media fail to acknowledge the deaths of over 4,700 people as a result of US  drone attacks?



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April 25, 2013 · 11:54 AM

Is Australia in Breach of its International Obligation?

This essay will purport to elaborate on the following points:

In recent years Australia has developed a somewhat dubious reputation internationally in its dealings with refugee claimants.

In comparison with other developed nations, Australia sees a relatively insignificant amount of asylum seekers arriving on its doorstep yet it has devised a steadfast program for processing these claimants offshore in a deplorable attempt to deter future asylum seekers and avoid the jurisdictional consequences of its international obligations.

While, theoretically, Australia has incorporated international obligations for providing due process and care to potential refugees pertinent to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 within its Migration Act 1958 , in effect the executive and legislature seem to spend their time devising tricky ways to get around such laws. The concept of regional processing has epitomised this and has come under fire both domestically and internationally from human rights and non government organisations.

The issue of refugee reception and the Australian law first became predominant following the Tampa Affair of 2001, in which a boat load of predominantly Afghani asylum seekers were left floating at sea while the Australian government frantically crafted agreements with surrounding pacific countries for the reception of these claimants who had reached their territorial  waters. This was the starting point for the Pacific Solution introduced by the Howard government and catalyst for regional processing.

Although the concept of offshore processing was undoubtedly equivocal, both the judiciary and the Australian public appeared to tolerate these programs until the proposal of the Malaysia Solution 2011. Introduced by the Gillard government as an alternative to the Pacific Solution, this bill would allow for 800 asylum seekers to be moved outside Australia’s jurisdiction without first having had their claims heard. Fearing gross violations of international law, and indeed contravention of domestic law, a case was brought before the High Court which would alter the direction of refugee law in Australia and encourage greater reception of international standards.

The case of Plaintiff M70/2011 v Minister for immigration and Citizenship (2011) involved the legality of moving refugee claimants abroad to a third country, Malaysia, a country which was not a party to the Refugee Convention and which had a questionable human rights record. The accusation was that, to remove these asylum seekers before having had their claims processed would be a contravention of the imperative principal of ‘non-refoulement’.  Principally the case fell upon determination of s193A of the Migration Act which allowed the Minister to make a declaration for moving claimants offshore where it was in the best interests of the public. Ultimately, the court decided that the Ministers declaration was ineffective as it was subject to s198(3) which required that the third country conform to international human rights standards and that moving the claimant to Malaysia would put Australia in breach of both its domestic laws and its international obligations.

This case was a major turning point as it pointed Australian refugee law in a more humanitarian direction and pulled it into line with its obligations under the Refugee Convention. However, there are still questionable practices taking place with Australia’s regional processing schemes, including Nauru and Christmas Island where potential refugees have little access to administrative decision making. It is arguable that these programs also put in Australia in potential contravention of its international obligations towards asylum seekers.


Mary Crock and Laurie Berg, Immigration, Refugees and Forced Migration: Law,

Policy and Practice in Australia (Federation Press, 2011)

Angus Francis, ‘Bringing Protection Home: Healing the Schism between International Obligations and National Safeguards Created by Extraterritorial Processing’ (2008) 20 International Journal of Refugee Law 273

Michelle Foster, ‘Protection Elsewhere: The Legal Implications of Requiring Refugees to Seek Protection in Another State’ (2007) Michigan Journal of International Law 223.

Sasha Lowes, ‘The legality of extraterritorial processing of asylum claims: The judgement of the High Court of Australia in the ‘Malaysian Solution’ case’ (2012)12 Human Rights Law Review 1

Tamara Wood and Jane McAdam, ‘Australian Asylum Policy All at Sea: An Analysis of Plaintiff M70/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and the Malaysia-Australia Arrangement’ (2012) 61 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 274

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