The School of Law of the University of Central Lancashire, Cyprus and the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for the Rule of Law and European Values (CRoLEV), co-funded by the European Union and running at UCLan Cyprus for the period 2022-2025, held their second annual Interdisciplinary Research Workshop and the first CRoLEV Summer School on the 15th and 16th of June 2023. Both events took place in hybrid format, with some participating in person on the UCLan Cyprus campus, and others joining online via MS Teams or Zoom. The Research Workshop and the CRoLEV Summer School, this year focusing on ‘Threats to Democratic Values’, promoted excellence in teaching and research and fostered dialogue among the participants to the Summer School.
Several Research Workshops took place during the morning of the 15th of June and primarily targeted advanced, graduate, and post-graduate students. Professor Vasil Gluchman from the University of Presov, Slovakia, delivered the first presentation, focusing on ‘Education for Democracy: The Experience in the Visegrad Four’. In his lecture, Prof. Gluchman highlighted the salient role democratic education plays in forming a democratic citizenry capable of protecting itself against threats. Focusing on the experience of the Visegrad Four, Prof. Gluchman explained how the historical, social, and political realities of those four countries have resulted in an insufficient system of democratic education. That was followed by a workshop from our CRoLEV post-doc, Dr Alex M. Uibariu, who focused on ‘Autocratisation and State Crimes Against Democracy in Contemporary Polities’. During her workshop, Dr Uibariu analysed the concept of a state crime against democracy, identifying several state actions or inactions that can fall under that definition. Both presentations provoked significant discussion on the ways in which democracies are threatened by state (and non-state) actions, and possible tools that can be used to protect against such threats, with civic education emerging as a core requirement.
The CRoLEV Summer School, which took place in the afternoon of the 15th of June and on the 16th of June, brought together legal researchers and practitioners who enjoyed a series of diverse sessions on many interesting topics. First, Dr Klearchos Kyriakides, Senior Visiting Fellow of the School of Law, UCLan Cyprus delivered a presentation on ‘The threats to democratic values stemming from those who claim to be upholding them in the UK and the EU’. During this session, Dr Kyriakides stressed the multiple shortcomings of the UK (and of other European countries) in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, touching on significant issues such as the lack of legal scrutiny of government decisions, the extent of democratic accountability, and the reliance of the government on medical experts, side-lining legal advice. This presentation sparked a lively discussion revolving around the state of democratic government during times of emergency. Ms Branka van der Linden, Secretary of the Board, Cyprus Integrity Forum with whom the School of Law of UCLan Cyprus and CRoLEV enjoy a strong partnership, then delivered a Lecture entitled ‘Elephant in the Room – Addressing Legal profession contribution to Sustainable Development through Integrity and Transparency, core values of Cyprus Integrity Forum’. During her lecture, Ms van der Linden, discussed the ideas of integrity and transparency, both at the institutional and the personal level, exploring questions of individual ethics, and personal prejudice and bias.
The next day (16th of June) featured a public lecture by Professor Stéphanie Laulhé Shaelou, Head of Law School and Professor of EU Law and Reform, School of Law, UCLan Cyprus and CRoLEV Director, who focused on ‘The Rule of Law and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development’. Following an analysis of the approach to the rule of law adopted by international bodies (such as the UN and the Council of Europe), Prof. Laulhé Shaelou explored the ways in which the rule of law combines with the sustainable development goals. Stressing the need to focus on sustainable rule of law and democracy, Prof. Laulhé Shaelou insisted that upholding the rule of law and democracy and achieving the sustainable development goals are intrinsically connected.
After that, Dr Andreas Marcou, Lecturer in EU Law and Theory and CRoLEV Project Manager discussed ‘Democracy, liberalism, and free speech’. During the last workshop, Dr Marcou focused on controversial questions of free speech and censorship, exploring how different models of liberalism and democracy might propose different approaches to them. Mr Petros Florides, Independent Non-Executive Chairman, NetU and Mr Ioannis Ioannides, Non-Executive Director, NetU then moderated a fascinating roundtable discussion on ‘Digital opportunities and threats to Democratic values’ powered by NetU with whom the School of Law and CRoLEV enjoy a strong partnership.
The roundtable discussion shed light on the various opportunities to improve democratic government technological improvements offer, ranging from making government more efficient, to enabling widespread political participation. At the same time, dangers associated with such technological improvements were highlighted, such as misinformation through social media, or the alienation of the technologically illiterate.
The Summer School concluded with a session powered by the Larnaca Bar Association with whom the School of Law and CRoLEV enjoy a strong and lasting partnership, on ‘Gender Pay Gap in the Legal Profession in Cyprus’, moderated by Prof Stéphanie Laulhé Shaelou and Mr Christakis Mouscos, President, Larnaca Bar Association. Upon the invitation of the Cyprus Bar Association and with the impetus of all those involved, including Mr. Christakis Mouscos in his capacity as President of the Larnaca Bar Association, CRoLEV was invited to produce new and targeted qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, in the framework of the first ever ‘Women in Law’ Conference in Cyprus, organised by the Cyprus Bar Association and partners, including UCLan Cyprus as education partner, in Larnaca, on the 5th April 2023. The presentation of the CRoLEV findings at the Conference can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfBs-n1MLWU. CRoLEV would like to thank all those involved in the design, organisation, delivery, dissemination and actual attendance across multiple organisations and institutions. During the session at the Summer School, Dr Uibariu delved into the results of the study conducted by CRoLEV on the Gender Pay Gap in the Legal Profession in Cyprus, which you can view here. In the course of the discussion, the Gender Pay Gap was portrayed as a symptom of a larger picture of gender inequality in Cyprus. Alleviating this greater societal problem requires systematic and robust effort.
Many thanks go to the CRoLEV Team for their hard work in organising the Research Workshops and the Summer School. We also like to thank our guest contributors and all participants for their commitment and their valuable participation throughout the various sessions and activities of those events. All material from the Summer School will be available here.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them