Carne Ross Talk at UCLA Law School

October 29, 2015 · posted by Independent Diplomat in Blog

On 21 October, ID’s Executive Director Carne Ross gave a talk hosted by the UCLA School of Law and the Burkle Center for International Relations about Independent Diplomat, conflict resolution, international law and a different type of world order.

Starting with a brief biography, Carne then spoke about Independent Diplomat’s first client: Kosovo. He explained that under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the Kosovo government was not permitted any diplomatic representation or a foreign ministry, limiting its ability to gather information and interpret this sometimes secretive process which was nonetheless crucial to Kosovo’s future. This lack of representation for Kosovo in the negotiations is what pushed him to offer them his services and create Independent Diplomat.

Carne underlined the importance of accountability. Accountability is a crucial for ID’s clients, such as in Syria where it is quasi-nonexistent and Sri Lanka, where the United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) seeks accountability for war crimes committed both by the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elaam (LTTE) during the civil war that lasted until 2009.

He also highlighted the importance of the COP21 climate negotiations that will be held in Paris next month claiming that “Paris is arguably one of the most important treaties that will be agreed on in our lifetimes.” The outcome of these negotiations will be crucial for one of ID’s clients, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

An important part of his talk related to the normative power of international law. Protection of civilians for example was a relatively new phenomenon, and was particularly crucial in the Syrian conflict.

During the Q&A part of the discussion, he talked about his recent travels to Syria and the importance of working with the concerned parties around an issue: “Unless you actually listen to the people there, you’re not even going to start solving it.”

He ended his talk with a message about how to make a difference. Carne used the example of USTPAC to illustrate the point, explaining that they had successfully made their case internationally and had managed to gain strong support from the United States in the diplomatic scene, which ultimately contributed to a Human Rights Council resolution being passed in September 2015 which endorsed a OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) report that called for an international tribunal in Sri Lanka to ensure accountability. “If you’re really determined and really really dedicated, you can make a difference” is a lesson that most people aspiring to create positive change should remember.

To watch the full talk, click here.