Convergence and Divergence: Finding a framework for a more equitable society

Plan Author

  • Clair Maleney, 2015

Fields of Concentration

Sample Courses

  • Course: International Relations Theory
  • Course: TESOL Certificate II
  • Tutorial: Readings in Economics
  • Tutorial: Seminar in Francophone Language and Culture

Project Description

The history of head-of-state immunity and the development of jus cogens exeptions

Faculty Sponsors

Outside Evaluator

    • Geoffrey Bergen, World Bank consultant


I use the social pyramid and Piketty’s idea of forces of convergence and divergence to organize the three parts of my Plan, each part of which explores some aspect of inequality within a society. The first part examines one example of how a very unequal social structure, where those at the top possess nearly all the power, can negatively affect those who live in it. Through a brief analysis of the classic American novel, The House of Mirth, the paper explores the dynamics created when people must fight to keep their position in the unstable hierarchy. The second part of my Plan focuses on matters of justice, and examines the inequality that exists at the top of the pyramid. This section is divided into two papers, which examine the progress that has been made towards ensuring that heads of states are held to the same laws as their citizens. The third part of this Plan is a look at injustices at the bottom of the social pyramid, written in French. I examine two examples from recent francophone films of communities using collective action to fight for better living and working conditions.


Head of state immunity is one of the most well established tenets of international custom-ary law, but the growth of human rights and non-derogable jus cogens laws in the past century has challenged the once unshakable principle of absolute immunity for heads of states. Since the 1980s, over seventy heads of state have been placed on trial for various criminal and civil transgressions.1 This is undeniable evidence that head of state immunity is no longer absolute. But under what circumstances can a head of state be put on trial? When does head of state im-munity not protect a head of state? In truth there is not a definitive answer as of yet. However, as state practice and opinio juris accumulate, customary law concerning exceptions to head of state immunity is starting to emerge.

Dans ce papier, je vais faire un examen de la force de l’action collective à travers la perspective de deux films: La Source des femmes de Radu Mihaileanu et La Grande séduction de Jean-François Pouliot. Ces films présentent deux communautés très différentes, l’une habite au Maroc et l’autre sur une petite île au large de la côte canadienne. La Source des femmes raconte l’historie d’un petit village quelque part entre l’Afrique du nord et le Moyen-Orient où chaque jour les femmes font un long trajet pour aller chercher l’eau d’une source au sommet de la montagne. Un jour sur ce trajet, le personnage principal, Leïla, est témoin d’une fausse couche lorsqu’une amie tombe sur le petit chemin. Elle est furieuse contre l’injustice, et elle propose aux femmes de faire une grève de l’amour jusqu’à ce que leurs maris décident de les aider cher—cher l’eau.


What I remember most about working on Plan was stress, confusion, and avoidance. I really like all of my Plan in the end, but the head-of-state immunities part was probably the most exciting to me.