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International Affairs

Challenges to the Status Quo:

 A System Unraveling?


Lewis & Clark’s 57th International Affairs Symposium 

April 8–10, 2019


Sessions are held in Templeton Campus Center, Council Chamber. Details are subject to change. 


In NGOs We Trust? Determining the Agenda of Foreign-Funded Non-Governmental Organizations 

Monday, April 8, 3:00 p.m.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have evolved into some of the most prominent global influencers. Subsequently, democracy-promoting NGOs have become part of a contentious international debate. Some believe that these NGOs have become tools of foreign meddling and a vessel for foreign interests. Others would argue that these NGOs promote democracy for all people. This debate explores the question: are democracy-promoting NGOs influencers of foreign interests or advocates for civil society?  

David J. Kramer is a Senior Fellow in the Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy at Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. He has previously served as the President of Freedom House and as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs during the George W. Bush administration.

Timothy M. Gill is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and has worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research at Tulane University. His research focuses extensively on democracy assistance efforts and the role of the US in Latin America. Gill specializes in political sociology, globalization, and U.S. global power.

Moderator: Leah Gilbert, Assistant Professor of Political Science 


The Populist Disruption: Make Democracy Great Again

Monday, April 8, 7:30 p.m.

The past few years have been marked by the rise of populist movements across the world that reflect a crisis of representation within democratic systems and institutions. While many people agree that the current system is not perfect, some argue that a radical change is necessary and others believe that reforms will suffice. How do we improve representation? How do we make our governments more democratic? Can democracy be fixed?

Yascha Mounk is an associate professor of international affairs at Johns Hopkins University, a senior advisor at Protect Democracy in Washington D.C., a columnist at Slate, and the host of “The Good Fight” podcast. His articles appear regularly in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs. Mounk speaks to audiences on five continents as a leading global expert on the crisis of liberal democracy and the rise of populism.

Richard Morales is an executive counselor for the Frente Amplio por la Democracia (FAD) a political party in Panama, and was a presidential candidate for the party in 2018. He has experience as a community organizer and head of social organizations with a focus on social work in rural areas and indigenous communities. Morales is also a professor of political science and currently teaches at the University of Panama.

Moderator: Todd Lochner, Associate Professor of Political Science 


Private Military Contractors: Terms and Conditions May Apply*

Tuesday, April 9, 3:30 p.m. 

States increasingly use private military contractors (PMCs) to substitute or bolster traditional military forces. These contractors are often employed as a more cost-effective substitute to state forces. However, some argue the use of PMCs comes at the cost of accountability and leaves open the possibility for abuse. How should states balance the costs and benefits when considering employing PMCs? Is their use justifiable, considering there is a financial incentive to propagate conflict?

Jose L. Gomez del Prado is a lecturer at the University of Barcelona focusing on human rights and diplomatic relations. For six years he was the chair of the U.N. working group on mercenaries, which studied the effects of private military and security contractors. Under his leadership, the working group helped develop and advocate for regulatory standards for the military contractor industry. He has been a fierce opponent of the private security industry citing continued human rights abuses and a need to hold these contractors to a higher standard.

Molly Dunigan a senior political scientist and associate director of the Defense and Political Sciences Department at the RAND Corporation based in Santa Monica, California. Her research focuses on private military and security contractors and civil-military relations, for which she is an internationally recognized expert. Dunigan recognizes that private military contractors impact how we fight wars and the decisions that are made about war-making.

Moderator: Clifford Bekar, Associate Professor of Economics 


An Environmentally Sustainable Future in Demand: Can Capitalism Supply it?

Tuesday, April 9, 7:00 p.m.

As climate change accelerates, governments all around the globe are prioritizing environmental protection initiatives as part of their national strategies. While several administrations are putting forward market-based approaches to reduce their footprint, seldom are willing to point at the market structure of the global economy as the source of the problem. The U.N.’s 2019 Global Sustainable Report is clear about the importance of finding alternatives to dominant political and economic tools in order to mitigate environmental issues. Can capitalism provide the tools to reverse environmental degradation? What feasible alternatives can be implemented in the face of this critical situation?

Dan Dudek is the Environmental Defense Fund’s Vice President for Asia. He is based in China where he designs carbon demonstration projects and develops market mechanisms to address large-scale environmental problems. Dudek is credited for developing the cap-and-trade model that the United States adopted in the early 1990s to control sulfur dioxide in rainfall, which among other initiatives made him a leading expert on finding market-based approaches to reducing pollution.

Paavo Järvensivu is an independent researcher of economic culture at BIOS Research Unit and a board member for the Mustarinda Association in Finland. Järvensivu is a biophysical economist interested in the different developments of public and private economies. His research at BIOS focuses on how materialistic societies contribute to environmental problems and climate change. At Mustarinda, Järvensivu works to rebuild a society focused on maintaining ecological diversity.

Moderator: Elizabeth Bennett, Associate Professor of International Affairs 


Human Rights: Universally Inclusive or Culturally Contextual? 

Wednesday, April 10, 3:30 p.m.

The international world seldom confronts an issue that doesn’t involve human rights. Yet, how human rights are defined and applied is an extremely contentious topic. On one hand, they are touted by the United Nations as universal and all-encompassing by nature. Many see human rights as inclusive of the traditions and cultures of all people from all nations; they are heralded as the future of our common humanity. This view is challenged by those who argue that human rights are inherently exclusive. Past and present conceptions of human rights don’t include groups who are marginalized by the state and international system, therefore functioning as tools of neo-colonialism and imperialism. At the heart of this debate lies the question, are human rights universal?

Livingstone Sewanyana is the founder and executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), a civil society organization based in Uganda. He has written extensively on human rights and access to justice, receiving awards for his work including the European Union Human Rights Defenders Prize. He is currently the independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order for the Human Rights Council, where he examines and reports on a specific human rights issue.

Bonny Ibhawoh is a professor of global human rights and African studies at McMaster University in Canada. He was a human rights fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs in New York. He focuses primarily on human rights, imperialism, and the decolonization of Africa. His work has been published in The International Journal for Human Rights, Human Rights Quarterly, and the Journal of International Relations and Development.

Moderator: Heather Smith-Cannoy, Associate Professor of International Affairs  


A World of MADness? The Merits and Limitations of Nuclear Disarmament 

Wednesday, April 10, 7:00 p.m. 

The United States detonated the first nuclear bomb in 1945. In the years since, nine countries in the world have developed nuclear weapons. There has been massive pushback to their existence from activists and international organizations who point out the potential for human suffering inherent to weapons of mass destruction. Supporters of the existence of nuclear weapons claim, however, that they have significant war-preventative benefits. Given the current climate of international turbulence, this debate asks the burning questions regarding global nuclear disarmament: is it safe, feasible, or desirable?

Ira Helfand, MD is a member of the International Steering Group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, and co-President of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the founding partner of ICAN and itself the recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He represented ICAN at the Oslo and Nayarit Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear War, has worked closely with the UN to renegotiate the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,  and has published and lectured widely on the medical consequences of nuclear war.

Casimir Yost is currently a senior fellow at the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in Washington D.C., where he researches and lectures about grand strategy.  Previously Yost served on the National Intelligence Council as the Director of Strategic Futures Group, also in Washington D.C., where he directed a team of senior intelligence analysts to produce strategic intelligence assessments for the purposes of outlining American security interests. Yost was awarded the National Intelligence Superior Service Medal in 2013 for his work on the National Intelligence Council.  He has also previously held a staff position with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Moderator: Kyle Lascurettes, Assistant Professor of International Affairs