Richard Falk Lecture

11 July 2019



Current Global Crises: towards a more humane global governance.

A public lecture by Professor Richard Falk,
Professor Emeritus of International Law, Princeton University; Professor, Orfalea Center of Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara; and previous-UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2008-2014) and 2019 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

We live in a time of multiple crises of varying scope and magnitude. The most serious crises in the present world situation threaten catastrophes of global scope: climate change; biodiversity; nuclear weaponry; human migration. Other contemporary crises are normative and structural: deficiencies of global leadership, as well as the decline of the United Nations, international law, and human rights. Humanitarian crises are causing massive suffering in Yemen, Syria and Republic of the Congo, Gaza and Rakhine (Myanmar). These multiple crises have produced the first bio-ethical crisis in human history, threatening the survival of civilization and even the human species. To envision a hopeful future seems utopian at this point. Yet every one of us must work to develop ideas, initiatives, and visions that move toward humane forms of global governance.

The rise of ultra-nationalism, autocratic democracies, and denialism are formidable obstacles to the achievement of this project. Two goals can guide our feelings, thoughts, and undertakings: establishing mechanisms inside or outside the UN that are dedicated to upholding the human interest; and renewing democratic vitality through the emergence of engaged citizenship as enacted by citizen pilgrims. We are in a period of history where the incrementalism of governmental policymaking and international institutions will not be responsive to the gravity of the challenges. Only the transnational mobilization of people has any credible prospect of producing the kind of transformative politics that are necessary at this point in time.

Professor Falk is one of the world’s leading scholars in the fields of International Relations and International Law. He is the author/co-author of 74 books, and hundreds of journal articles. His wealth of experience in various roles for the United Nations and non-government organisations, includes being a UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2008-2014), working on initiatives such as the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, and heading up a recent project on the crisis in the Gulf.