Home > Centre for the Study of Human Rights > Events > 2015 > Fighting the Behemoth: Law, politics and human rights in times of debt and austerity

Fighting the Behemoth: Law, politics and human rights in times of debt and austerity

UN International Human Rights Day event, in association with the Department of Law

  • Thursday 10 December 2015, 6.30pm-8pm
  • Speaker: Zoe Konstantopoulou
  • Chair: Margot Salomon
  • #LSEGreece

Zoe Konstantopoulou

Recent events have put Greece in the spotlight and at the forefront of critical questions that connect human rights protection, democracy, debt, and austerity. The situation has exposed grave concerns regarding the failure of international lenders to factor in social rights in the management of the debt and in the crafting of conditionalities imposed on Greece. What if the loans weren’t made in the interest of the people of Greece, should the subsequent debt incurred be illegal? Is the debt ‘sustainable’ if social rights are violated in order to service it in the coming years? The recent handling of the crisis also throws into doubt Europe’s commitment to basic principles of democracy, with strong voices condemning EU Member States for not respecting the outcome of a referendum held in one of its Member States and where creditors are being charged with requiring a Government to act under threat of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Zoe Konstantopoulou is former President of the Greek Parliament and a politician of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), and is a practicing lawyer. She was elected to the post of President on 6 February 2015 with a record number of 235 out of 300 votes, making her the youngest Speaker in the history of the Hellenic Parliament. As Speaker, she worked to expose the truth around the debt and human crises in Greece. She holds a law degree from the University of Athens, a Master’s in Law from Columbia University with a focus on International Law, Human Rights and Criminal Law and a DEA from the University of Paris 1 (Panthéon la Sorbonne) in European Criminal Law and Criminal Policy in Europe. In her legal practice she is active in the fields of criminal law and human rights. She is a member of the Athens and New York Bars.

Margot Salomon (chair) is Associate Professor in the Centre for the Study of Human Rights and Law Department, and director of the Laboratory for Advanced Research on the Global Economy.

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