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UCC School of Law’s Dr Henrietta Zeffert presents at Asian Law and Society Association annual conference

23 Sep 2021

Dr Zeffert presented on the International Law and Human Rights panel alongside academics from Thailand, Japan and Europe.

Dr Henrietta Zeffert, Lecturer at the UCC School of Law, recently participated in the Asian Law and Society Association virtual conference, hosted by Chulalongkorn University, Faculty of Law, Bangkok, Thailand, on 17 and 18 September.

The theme of this conference was “Law, Crisis and Revival in Asia”, examining the role of law in addressing the unprecedented challenges posed by trade tensions, political conflicts, rising inequalities, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Zeffert’s paper was entitled, “Does International Law Care? The Possibilities and Limits of Care Ethics in International Law”. It explored the potential and the limits of a global care ethics framework for rethinking international law’s response to Covid-19 so far and to crisis more generally. It argues that if care – a model which emphasises cultivating relations of trust, international cooperation and valuing interdependence - were at the centre of the global response to the pandemic, specifically the response of international law, the world would look very different.

In the paper, Dr Zeffert asks: Does international law care? Should it care? Why is it difficult for international law to promote care? And how might the ethics of care literature help international law to see the promotion of care as part of its mandate?  The paper also stresses the need to proceed carefully, as it suggests that the conversation about care in international law needs to be routed through postcolonial thinking, acknowledging that practices of care are contested and expose the historic continuity of imperial violence, oppression and exploitation channelled through international law.

Speaking after the conference, Dr Henrietta Zeffert said:

I was delighted to participate in this year's Asian Law and Society Association virtual conference, with thanks to Dean Professor Mark Poustie's Head of Law Strategic Fund. Amid the pandemic, with discussion and decision-making around vaccine production, distribution and its related politics and disputes skewed to Europe and the US, it is vital to bring the conversation back to Asia. In particular, my contribution to this conference tried to question the centre from which 'care' for others - such as those in the global South - is talked about, and the neocolonial implications of care talk in the context of Covid-19.

More information about the Asian Law and Society Association can be found at: 

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