Seminars of the People's Academy

People's Academy of International Law Seminars

The right to health and a clean and healthy environment

Seminar A: The Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment took place on Thursday, March 7, 2023. Watch the videos and read the materials here.

Faculty for Seminar A:

  • Richard Harvey – Legal Counsel for Campaigns at Greenpeace International

  • Mametlwe Sebei – Lecturer in Department of Jurisprudence at University of South Africa

  • Martha Schmidt – Co-chair of Human Rights Framework Project of the National Lawyers Guild

The program was moderated by Marjorie Cohn, Dean of the People’s Academy of International Law.

      • The right to health and environment is one of the most important issues of our time, and climate change and catastrophe is an urgent matter. At the same time, the right to health is an international human right recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2021. This seminar will address the struggle against climate catastrophe and environmental destruction.Unilateral coercive measures and their illegality

Unilateral coercive measures and their illegality

Seminar B: The Illegality of Unilateral Coercive Measures will take place on Thursday, March 21, 2024. Click here to register.

Faculty for Seminar B:

  • Nina Farnia – Legal historian and scholar; Professor of Law, Albany Law School; co-chair, International People’s Tribunal on US Imperialism
  • Prabhat Patnaik – Professor Emeritus, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  • María Lucrecia Hernández  – Director of SURES, Venezuela
  • Charlotte Kates – International Coordinator, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network; National Lawyers Guild International Committee

The program will be moderated by Marjorie Cohn, Dean of the People’s Academy of International Law.

Register here:

      • With the blockade of Cuba, the U.S. launched an era of Unilateral Coercive Measures, known as UCMs. UCMs are economic acts of a hostile nature, taken by a state to compel policy changes by another state. While some claim that UCMs are a form of lawful pressure, in fact UCMs are unlawful acts of economic aggression, prohibited by the U.N. Charter, treaties, the laws of international governmental organizations, and the International Court of Justice. International movements have developed to resist the UCMs imposed by the U.S. and its European Union allies against over 40 UN member states. International resistance movements and affected states have documented multiple widespread human rights violations caused by UCMs, including to life and health, in countries such as Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Iran.

        The seminar will examine international law prohibitions of UCMs, and resistance in the Global South and BRICS states to UCMs and secondary sanctions, and the strategies of people’s movements to stop UCMs.  


The use of law against justice and the rights of the people

      • People’s struggles also face repression from governments or opposition forces. Sometimes they use law and the courts as a weapon, as in the case of “lawfare” or SLAPP actions targeting people’s movements. Meanwhile, many countries have also adopted legislation or special extrajudicial measures targeting left activists, in the name of “security” or “counter-terrorism.” This seminar will consider how to resist lawfare and repressive legislation. 

Abolition of nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants (IAEA, NPT)

      • The treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons was adopted but many nuclear-armed countries have not yet ratified it. At the same time, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is an unequal system that privileges current nuclear powers.  IAEA is charged with the promotion of nuclear power generation internationally. This seminar will consider this contradictory situation, especially amid a threat of nuclear crisis in Ukraine and East Asia.

Palestine, Western Sahara and Kashmir

      • The right of self-determination of peoples is important to many human rights treaties. This seminar will consider this right and the struggles of the people of Palestine, Western Sahara and Kashmir for self-determination and national liberation.

Using international law to combat neoliberalism and corporate
domination of economies; debt cancellation

      • This seminar will discuss the Supremacy Clause (UN Charter, article 103) and the use of international law to challenge neoliberalism and corporate domination, particularly in both domestic courts and UN fora.

Korean unification and Illegality of UN and US Actions

      • This seminar will explore the legal issues on the Korean peninsula, including the illegality of using the name of UN Command and the UN flag (UNSC), the illegality of the US military base in south Korea and the military alliance treaty. It will also discuss the illegality of the Korean War under the UN Charter and the ongoing legal problems related to the unended War. At the time of the War, the UN Security Council allowed the US to organize a multinational force, not a UN force; but afterward the US has continued to use the name of UN Command and the UN flag illegally. This means that the UNC and UN military forces are playing a role obstructing Korean unification today.

Indigenous Peoples’ and First Nations Struggles

      • This seminar will explore the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as non-state-based systems, with the goal of supporting indigenous peoples’ struggles for justice and liberation.

Independence of the judiciary and protection of lawyers

      • Lawyers as human rights defenders are under attack, materially and in the courts of various countries. This seminar will examine in particular the cases of the Philippines and Turkey and the use of international law to defend lawyers under attack. 

Right to Peace

      • The Declaration on the Right to Peace was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2016. The right to peace is derived from the preamble of the UN Charter, which also indicates that people can play a role in global security, a function typically occupied by States. This seminar will consider this right and how it can be used to resist war and develop peace on a global level.