Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Virtual Conference, Cardiff, 2021

  • Luke Graham (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Exploring Alternative Pathways to Accountability for the Violence of Austerity

In the UK, the past decade has been shaped by austerity policies. Austerity has weakened the capacity of the British state and made British society more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. Already, questions are being asked as to how the economic costs of the budgetary response to COVID-19 will be recouped and as such ‘Austerity 2.0’ may come to shape the 2020s. The harms of austerity are well-documented yet accountability for such harm is widely lacking.

This paper explores alternative pathways to accountability which may be brought about through framing the harms of government policies as a violation of Economic and Social Rights (ESRs) and as such form of structural violence. This Galtung-ian analysis will serve as a framework for contending that rights-based analyses of the harms of social policies can serve as a gateway through which to consider these harms in the fields of peacebuilding and international criminal law. Building on a paper co-authored with Cahill-Ripley (accepted: Journal of Human Rights Practice - JHRP) the extent to which a society containing widespread poverty and destitution can be said to be at peace is challenged. This analysis serves as a bridge with which to – building on a previous publication - further consider the relationship between policy decisions and Crimes Against Humanity. In the UK, such an approach may allow for ‘back-door’ litigation to ensure minimum levels of Economic and Social Rights realisation using the International Criminal Court Act 2001.

At the root of this paper is a focus on harm more broadly understood. It is contended that those responsible for the policies which cause such harm must face accountability. The contentions presented in this paper may allow for, firstly, broader categories of harm to be regarded as requiring accountability and, secondly, alternative (and radical) pathways to securing such accountability.
Period30 Mar 20211 Apr 2021
Event typeConference
LocationCardiff, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational