A conversation with Dr. Luka Biong Deng Kuol, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
Response by Prof. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, MIT Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning
12:30 – 2:00 PM, Room 9-354 (Lunch will be provided.)
Conflict has been prominent in many of Africa’s urban centers, such as Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Mogadishu (Somalia), Nairobi (Kenya) and Khartoum (Sudan). Most recently Cairo has experienced ongoing conflict following its democratic transition in 2011 and northern Mali endured an insurgent rebellion led by Tuareg separatists that challenged state legitimacy in the region by taking key cities in the north including Timbuktu. How does conflict shape the essential functions of urban management and governance? How is legitimacy constituted and authority exercised? What are the forms of participation or resistance that citizens, IDPs and refugees exercise during conflict and post-conflict that constitute their relationship with the state?
Luka Biong Deng Kuol is a fellow at Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Luka’s research focuses on the challenges of nation and state building of the new state of South Sudan in the context of transitional justice. South Sudan as the newest state is litmus test of how to make use of the wealth of knowledge and experiences in building a viable state that is founded on solid values of social trust and democratic governance. He served as the Co-chair of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) that provides political and administrative oversight of Abyei area, a contested oil-rich area between South Sudan and Sudan, on behalf of President Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Republic of South Sudan. He is the Executive Director of Kush Inc., a non-profit organization that supports building bridges between the international community and local African initiatives. He served as national minister of Cabinet Affairs of the Government of Sudan and as a minister of Presidential Affairs in the Office of the President of the Government of Southern Sudan. He also worked as a Senior Economist for the World Bank in South Sudan.
He received his Doctor of Philosophy from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex in UK. He also earned a Master of Arts in Economics and a Master of Business Administration from Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He is a recognized expert on the affairs of South Sudan and Sudan, conflicts and civil wars, poverty, diversity and constitution making, vulnerability, famine, civil wars, and state building.
Balakrishnan Rajagopal is Associate Professor of Law and Development and Director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice at MIT. He has been a member of the Executive Council and Executive Committee of the American Society of International Law, and is currently on the Asia Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch, the International Advisory Committee of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and the International Rights Advocates. He is a Faculty Associate at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation. His terminal degree is an interdisciplinary doctorate in law (SJD) from Harvard Law School and he also holds a first law degree from India. He served for many years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia and received a Royal Award from the King of Cambodia. He has consulted with the World Commission on Dams, UNDP, other UN agencies and international organizations and leading NGOs on human rights and international legal issues. He has published numerous scholarly articles in leading law journals including the Harvard, Columbia, Boston University, Connecticut and Leiden journals of international law, Third World Quarterly, Human Rights Review and the William and Mary Law Review. He is the author of two books – International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance, and Reshaping Justice: International Law and the Third World. He is currently completing a book manuscript on legalization of socio-economic rights in the Global South. He has also published widely in the media including the Boston Globe, the Hindu, Washington Post and the Nation.