Oxford Senior Researcher Adam Roberts Attends the Symposium Entitled “Use of Force in International Relations” Held in North Pavilion


On the morning of December 10th, 2016, the Symposium entitled “Use of Force in International Relations”, sponsored by Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS), Peking University (PKU) and co-organized by Center for Chinese Governance & Innovation (CCGI), King's College London (KCL), was held in North Pavilion, where Prof. Adam Roberts, Senior Researcher of University of Oxford and Former Director of the British Academy of Social Sciences, delivered a keynote speech. Over ten experts and scholars from both inside and outside of PKU attended the discussion and nearly 20 postgraduates and undergraduates participated in the free question-answering session. The Symposium was presided over by Dr. Yang Xiao, Director of CCGI, KCL, and Senior Visiting Researcher of IISS, PKU.


Prof. Roberts is a top-class scholar in the field of international relations and International Law, and has published many influential works about the United Nations (UN) studies, laws of war and intellectual history of international relations. Over the past 20 years, he often participated in the senior consultations of the British Parliament, the U.S. and the UN, having a direct influence on some major decisions.


On the symposium, Prof. Roberts delivered a speech entitled “the Use of Force in the UK and Iraq: Academics and Policies”. By analyzing the principles and strategies for legal use of force in international relations, tracing back to some important cases of force use in the Chinese and western history, and analyzing the specific situations, he discussed the change of the nature of war and armed conflicts in the 21st century, the cases of failed anti-terrorists and international military intervention, interpretation of and controversies over two force use principles of “self-defense” and “authorization by the UN”, a special comparison between the UN‘s successful military intervention in Iraq’s attempts to annex Kuwait in 1991 and the use of force against Iraq in 2003 which severely violated the principle. Prof. Roberts thereby addressed inquiries to a series of issues about legal use of force centering on the international politics & international laws, national decision-making and functions of the UN, and interpreted the international laws, especially the specific regulations in the laws of war, the tension between requirements for evolution advancing with the times and compliance to the principles of sovereign states, and the interaction between government officials and scholars as well as their respective functions in the evolution of international laws. From different perspectives of history and reality, domestic politics and international laws, He questioned the practices of British and American politicians who use force to fight against terrorists in “their birth-land”, believing that such act actually places the western governments subject to the terrorist organizations. Prof. Roberts also mentioned that Britain exiting from the EU and Trump being elected the President of the United States, as typical historical events, represent the change of western politics, which was partly caused by the people’s loss of confidence in the decision-making by the elites, and the military force used in the international relations in recent years by Britain and America as well as its consequences also have exerted a direct influence on people’s attitude towards the policy-making by political elites.


After Prof. Roberts delivered the keynote speech, the following guests and other experts and scholars also made their speeches respectively: Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, Director of State Security Cooperation Center of Foreign Affairs Office, the Ministry of National Defense; Senior Colonel Xu Qiyu, Vice Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies, National Defense University of People's Liberation Army (NDU, PLA); Senior Colonel Yang Yujie, Researcher of Air Force Command College of Chinese people's Liberation Army; Senior Colonel You Dongxiao, Associate Professor of College of Defense Studies, NDU, PLA; Dr. Shi Xiaoqin, Associate Researcher of Military Strategies Research Division, Academy of Military Sciences of PLA; Liu Xiaobo, Associate Researcher of Academic Institute for Naval Military Studies; Liu Tiewa, Associate Professor of Beijing Foreign Studies University; Jie Dalei, Associate Professor of School of International Relations, PKU; Li Chen, Assistant Professor of Renmin University of China; Sun Wenzhu, Assistant Researcher of China Institute of International Studies. They expressed their opinions on issues, such as expansion of scope of international laws, influence of liberalism on fundamental principles of the laws of war, forms of the use of force, general proposition and attitude of Chinese traditional thoughts on the force using, political process and policy-making as well as relations between international laws, and they also had an in-depth discussion on topics including peacekeeping by the UN, veto power of the UN Security Council, collective security concept, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Syria issues, controversies over islands in East and South China Sea, marine laws, humanitarian intervention and anti-terrorist warfare. Students present in the conference also raised many excellent questions. The symposium lasted for 3 hours and then was brought to a successful close.

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