The Power Plant

Airspace Tribunal: Session 1

Sun Nov 01 2020

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM




Over the last century, humans have radically transformed airspace: chemically, territorially, militarily, and psychologically. Technological developments mean that this transformation is accelerating and growing in complexity. The associated threats to our human rights are not adequately addressed by the current legal framework. ‘The Airspace Tribunal’, European Human Rights Law Review (2018).

The Airspace Tribunal is an international public forum established by Fall 2021 exhibiting artist Shona Illingworth and human rights professor and barrister Nick Grief. In a series of public hearings—London, Sydney, now Toronto, with further hearings to come in other parts of the world—this people’s tribunal is examining the impact of accelerating geopolitical, technological, and environmental change on the composition, nature, and use of airspace, and considering the case for and against a proposed new human right to protect all people from physical or psychological threats from above.

The Toronto hearing of the Airspace Tribunal is co-presented by The Power Plant and the Master of Visual Studies program at the Daniels Faculty, University of Toronto. Speakers from a broad range of expertise, disciplines and lived experience—including Climate Change, Human Rights, Artificial Intelligence, Geopolitics, Contemporary Warfare, Biopolitics, and Psychology—will consider whether we need increased protection from threats from above through the recognition of this proposed new human right.

The hearing will take place over three two-hour online panel discussions followed by a one-hour online summative session. The Power Plant’s Director, Gaëtane Verna, will be the Chair, introducing each session and all speakers. Counsel to the Tribunal, Kirsty Brimelow QC, of Doughty Street Chambers (London, UK), will pose questions to the Experts. Members of the audience—who are the judges—will also be able to ask questions.

Confirmed speakers include:

Sunday, 1 November 2020, 2 to 4 PM Eastern Standard Time

· Shona Illingworth, Artist and Reader in Arts, University of Kent

· Nick Grief, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Kent and Associate Tenant, Doughty Street Chambers

· Derek Gregory, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada

· Gbenga Oduntan, Reader in International Commercial Law, Kent Law School, University of Kent, England, UK

· Andrew Hoskins, Interdisciplinary Research Professor in College of Social Sciences - Global Security, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Wednesday, 4 November 2020, 2 to 4 PM Eastern Standard Time

· Jairus Grove, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

· Jack Penashue, Innu Superintendent of Akami−Uapishkᵁ−KakKasuak−Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve in the Labrador region of Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

· Gabriele Schwab, Distinguished Professor, Comparative Literature with joint faculty appointments in Anthropology, English, European Languages and Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies; School of Humanities, University of California -- Irvine, USA

Saturday, 7 November 2020, 2 to 4 PM Eastern Standard Time

· Anthony Downey, Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa within the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University, England, UK.

· Abrar Mechmechia, Founder, ABRAR Trauma and Mental Health Services; and, Project Coordinator, Syrian Canadian Foundation

· Renata Salecl, senior researcher, Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; and, Professor of Psychology/Psychoanalysis and Law, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London, England, UK

The final session, on Saturday, 14 November 2020, 2 to 3 PM Eastern Standard Time, will include final statements by the Experts and Counsel, followed by questions and then a vote by the audience (the Tribunal) in favour of or against the proposed new human right.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It would be ideal if our audience could attend all of the panels, either live or by viewing the recorded sessions in advance of our final session, so that they have an opportunity to pose questions to the Experts and consider the case for and against the proposed new human right.

The Airspace Tribunal’s Toronto hearing sessions will be recorded and transcribed. Documentation will be incorporated in a special issue of the Journal of Digital War and contribute to Illingworth's Fall 2021 exhibition at The Power Plant. It will also be integral to the drafting history, helping to build and refine the case for the proposed new human right to be submitted to the United Nations and other bodies.

The Airspace Tribunal’s inaugural hearing was at Doughty Street Chambers, London in September 2018, supported by The Wapping Project, Doughty Street Chambers and the University of Kent. The second hearing took place at the Ethics Centre, Sydney in October 2019 as part of the Big Anxiety Festival, supported by The Wapping Project and the University of Kent.