Natasha Affolder


Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Sustainable development: Africa's hidden and not-so-hidden contribution to its law, politics, and history (2021)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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International Crime and the Politics of Criminal Theory (2016)

This dissertation responds to the dissonance between international criminal law’s utopian visions and the challenges posed by its implementation. While holding great promise, international criminal law remains a novel and unstable discipline, contested as being under-theorized and/or deferential to political and economic power. These arguments attack the substance and structure of international criminal law, undermining claims as to its effectiveness and even sustainability. In responding to these challenges, this dissertation uses postcolonial theory and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) to address central questions of criminal law theory. The goal of this dissertation is to develop a plausible normative framework for international criminal law. This normative framework will provide a platform for critiquing existing norms and practices, as well as the basis for alternative understandings of international criminal law, and potential responses to these problems that are normatively coherent and consistent with the goals of international criminal law. This dissertation offers five inter-related conclusions. First, it demonstrates the utility of TWAIL as a methodological and theoretical frame for studying international criminal law. Second, it argues for a broader and more normatively consistent understanding of what constitutes an international crime. Third, it offers a justification for extraterritorial punishment that accounts for state sovereignty as an important interest. Fourth, it explains why the selective application of international criminal law undermines this justification, and how this might be remedied in both normative and practical terms. Fifth, it identifies the potential disruptions international criminal law poses to general public international law, and explains why these challenges may undermine the long-term goals and viability of the field.

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Reconstituting the role of law in development-induced displacement and resettlement : lessons from Uganda's Bujagali hydroelectric project (2011)

Imagine that one morning you wake up and learn that the place you have called home for generations is no longer going to be home. Your house will be demolished and in its place, government or a private developer will construct a dam or put up a residential complex. You have no right to say no because government has eminent domain over your land (or a legal right to compulsorily acquire it in the public interest). Now imagine that the development will also result in the acquisition of the land on which you grow crops for subsistence and trade. It will close off access to the river where you fetch water for daily household use and catch fish for home consumption and for trade. In other words, this is the land where you live and where you obtain your means of living. Lastly, imagine that the project area also contains your social, cultural and spiritual being. It is where over time, you have built social capital consisting of relatives and friends: a community network that you can count on for daily survival. It is where your ancestors are buried, the religious and spiritual institutions you subscribe to are located and your cultural ties entrenched.This is no fiction. And it is not abstract. It is the everyday reality of the millions of people displaced by mega projects such as dams that are built in the name of development. There is a rich body of literature that explores the issue of development-induced displacement and its impact on communities. This thesis builds on that conversation by situating its analysis in law. Throughout the thesis, I trace the silences of law on the one hand and its aggressiveness on the other hand to determine the ways in which formal legal tools have enabled or disabled Project Affected Communities to secure their interests. I also explore how understanding dam projects from an investment perspective can further the understanding of the challenges faced by these communities when striving for inclusive laws and policies. Uganda’s Bujagali Hydroelectric Project is used as the case study for the analysis.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Climate change litigation and corporate accountability in Nigeria: the pathway to climate justice? (2018)

Oil and gas is the linchpin of the Nigerian economy. However, oil exploration and exploitation processes of petroleum products, particularly in the Niger Delta, have generated unpleasant social and environmental challenges ranging from oil spill, gas flaring and discharge of waste and effluents which have wreaked havoc on the health of the Niger Delta people and the ecosystems upon which they depend. This thesis is particularly concerned with gas flaring: the burning of associated natural gas found with oil deposits. Nigeria is currently ranked as the world’s fifth-largest gas flaring country in the world. This wasteful practice of burning non-renewable energy results in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which cause extreme climatic changes. Climate change is said to be the current greatest environmental and social threat to sustainable development. Although no region of the world will be entirely spared, scientific research has shown that there are uneven effects of these challenges and vulnerabilities to these challenges across world territories. Some continents, more than others, are vulnerable to the catastrophic effects of climate change. For instance, it is feared that African countries like Nigeria might experience the most severe impacts of climate change compared to other continents in the world and they are the least prepared to handle these impacts as a result of poverty and low technological development. Litigation has been heralded as a promising, effective, and alternative path to encourage climate change mitigation and victim compensation. This thesis analyzes the core assumptions that guide current scholarly enthusiasm for the capacity of climate change litigation to reduce environmental harm based on the experiences in the United States of America and Australia and contrasts that with the unique contextual factors that have impeded the overarching success of climate change litigation in Nigeria. The current state of climate change litigation in Nigeria reveals the lack of political will to enforce the court’s judgment because of the economic importance of the Oil and Gas Industry, lack of judicial independence, the lack of gas conservation infrastructure and the Joint Venture arrangement between the state and the Transnational oil companies.

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Adaptive Infrastructure Regulation: Designing for Climate Change (2016)

Climate change represents a vexing challenge for infrastructure design. There is increasingly widespread acknowledgement that design practices need to change in order to ensure that structures built today can withstand changes in average climate conditions, growing climate variability, and more frequent and extreme weather events over the coming decades. Yet substantial uncertainty persists with respect to the specific future conditions that structures should be designed for, leading to regulatory paralysis: despite the need for urgent action, regulation continues to require that infrastructure design be based on the assumption that past climate will be representative of future climate. This thesis argues that, in the face of this bedevilling combination of urgency and uncertainty, government regulation will be required to generate the changes in design practices needed to ensure that structures designed today will be resilient and robust to the climate impacts they are likely to confront over their lifetimes. Using the example of the National Building Code of Canada, this thesis identifies several stress points in existing regulatory frameworks for infrastructure design. In particular, this thesis demonstrates that existing methods for dealing with uncertainty in infrastructure design regulation are likely to be overwhelmed by the deep uncertainties surrounding climate change, and that the poor adaptive capacity of existing frameworks renders them unable to keep pace with the increasingly rapid pace of change. Responding appropriately and proactively to these challenges demands a new regulatory paradigm. This regulatory paradigm should draw guidance from new governance theory in the legal scholarship, as well as a range of ‘adaptive’ approaches developed in other disciplines — adaptive management, adaptive governance, and adaptive policymaking. The core of a new, adaptive regulatory paradigm should be a structured, iterative regulatory process that is capable of responding quickly and appropriately to new knowledge and unfolding realities, and formal and informal, multi-level networks that foster learning, cooperation, collaboration, and innovation. Without such a paradigm shift, the existing regulatory paradigm will fall into crisis, rendering structures designed today vulnerable to failure in the face of tomorrow’s climate, and thereby compromising substantial infrastructure investments and increasing risks to public safety.

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