Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Women as Humans: Human Rights, Feminisms, and Rethinking the Human

By Amber Karanikolas

Image: flickr/BWSS

Image: flickr/BWSS

To come up against what functions, for some, as a limit case of the human is a challenge to rethink the human. And the task to rethink the human is part of the democratic trajectory of evolving human rights jurisprudence.[1]

Who is the subject of human rights? Or, to put the question another way, who has the right to be human? Do women? The concept of human rights is continually evolving, and it is used in diverse ways. Human rights can encompass the many forms of ‘rights-talk’ that social movements use to make their claims, and internationally, recognition of human rights is proliferating. Although not denoting global compliance with human rights norms, it is now commonplace to declare that we live in an age of human rights.

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Law and Emancipation

By Hilary Charlesworth,

Centre for International Governance and Justice

Hilary Louvain

On 21st April, CIGJ Director Hilary Charlesworth was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Faculty of Law and Criminology at the Catholic University of Louvain. With Professors Michael Grimaldi from the Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II) and Jonathan Simon from the University of California, Berkeley, Hilary was honoured in a ceremony based on the theme, ‘Law and Emancipation’. This is the address given by Hilary at the conferral ceremony:

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After Conflict: Memory Frictions in Timor-Leste and Aceh – Part II

By Lia Kent, Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU 

Nicolau Lobato statue, Dili airport

Nicolau Lobato statue, Dili airport

In this post, RegNet and CIGJ Fellow Lia Kent discusses themes emerging from her preliminary fieldwork in Timor-Leste and Aceh. In a previous post, Lia introduced the research project she is currently working on and its theoretical framework. Both posts are based on a seminar that Lia gave at RegNet on 24 May 2016.[i]

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After Conflict: Memory Frictions in Timor-Leste and Aceh

By Lia Kent, Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

Timorese student protest

Timorese student protest

In this post, RegNet and CIGJ Fellow Lia Kent introduces the research project she is currently working on and its theoretical framework. A second post, to be published on the 1st of July, will discuss the themes emerging from Lia’s preliminary fieldwork. Both posts are based on a seminar that Lia gave at RegNet on 24 May 2016.[i]

My project lies at an intersection between scholarship on peace-building and memory studies. I’m hoping that bringing these disciplines into dialogue will allow a nuanced appreciation of the long-term, conflictual dynamics of building peace after conflict in Timor-Leste and Aceh. Timor-Leste is a country that I know very well, while Aceh is a new context for me, so my observations about it are far more speculative at this point.

Memory practices, unsettling transitional justice and peacebuilding assumptions

In previous work, I examined the transitional justice process in Timor-Leste: the legal and quasi-legal mechanisms that were established during the period of UNTAET (2000-2002) to address crimes committed during the Indonesian occupation. My particular focus was on how ordinary East Timorese perceived and experienced the truth commission and trials. Continue Reading →


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Weaving intellectual property policy in small island developing states

By Miranda Forsyth

Centre for International Governance & Justice, ANU

Weaving Intellectual PropertyIn their new book, Miranda Forsyth and Sue Farran consider the challenges of creating appropriate intellectual property frameworks in developing economies, focusing on small island states in the Pacific.  The book draws together policy considerations, theories of development and law and empirical studies. It offers a competing model of intellectual property regulation to the usual Western framework, based on local conceptions of culture and indigenous understandings about use, knowledge and transfer of intangible property. This post is an edited version of Miranda’s discussion of the book at a RegNet ‘bookclub’ earlier this year.

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The starting point for Weaving intellectual property policy is that Pacific islands have become a site of global pressure to enact an increasing number of intellectual property (IP) laws. In response to this pressure, since 2000 there has been a proliferation of new legislation and policies dealing with IP in countries in the region.

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Being Detained: Prelude to a thesis on Liberia and the rule of law

By Shane Chalmers*

Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

‘Nimba County Prison Inmates, Liberia’ (photo: United Nations/Christopher Herwig)

‘Nimba County Prison Inmates, Liberia’ (photo: United Nations/Christopher Herwig)

The Training and Development Officer from the Corrections Advisory Unit of the United Nations Mission in Liberia is standing outside the prison gate, her white skin marking her out as much as her blue UN insignia. I have crossed this street innumerable times before but have never noticed the ‘corrections facility’. Its towering perimeter wall blends into the Ministry of Defence and military barracks that run alongside, but even these do not stand out in Monrovia; this could have been any other international NGO compound. The urban streetscape of Liberia’s capital city is dominated by walls topped with razor wire and patrolled by private security guards. Continue Reading →


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Overcoming sorcery related violence

By Miranda Forsyth

Centre for International Governance & Justice, ANU

Goroka conference, 'Say No'

Goroka conference, ‘Say No’

 It’s time to move beyond sensationalist and moralistic portrayals of the violence associated with witchcraft and sorcery. Torturing, burning, killing and banishing individuals accused of witchcraft or sorcery is a significant problem across the world. But media coverage is regularly premised on the tired dichotomy of the civilized West and the primitive “other”. Common headlines such as “it is the twenty-first century and they are still burning witches” assumes such behavior is determined by some inevitable evolutionary timeline. But on the ground it is often the stresses of modern life that are driving the escalation in witchcraft violence. Nor is belief in magic, evil and unexplained (and unexplainable) phenomena limited to the global South: a Gallup survey in 2005 found seventy five percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief.

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The way to a cohesive society: cultural assimilation or structural inclusion?

By Ibolya (Ibi) Losoncz*, RegNet, ANU

Australian Government poster displayed between 1949 and 1951 in reception rooms and dining halls at various migrant reception centres in Australia. (Image courtesy of the NAA/Wikipedia).

Australian Government poster displayed between 1949 and 1951 in various migrant reception centres. (Image courtesy of the NAA/Wikipedia).

Increased international migration, including refugee admissions and resettlement, has changed the ethnic make-up of many developed countries. Instead of capitalising on diversity, government policies rely heavily on the assimilation of migrants as a way to create cohesion and unity within mainstream society. In public discourse, assimilation also tends to be portrayed as a precondition for social cohesion. But wouldn’t supporting the economic, social and political participation of newly arrived immigrants while acknowledging their diverse cultures be a more effective way of building a cohesive society? A critical look at Australia’s humanitarian resettlement program provides valuable insights to this important question.

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Teaching Human Rights

By Hilary Charlesworth,

Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

2016 Human Rights Tertiary Teachers' Workshop

2016 Human Rights Tertiary Teachers’ Workshop

The Australian Human Rights Teachers’ Workshop, now in its sixth year, has become an important gathering for academics working in the field. It was the brainchild of Professor John Tobin (Melbourne Law School) and has been co-organised each year by MLS, CIGJ and UNSW. This year’s workshop at UNSW Law School on 17 February attracted over 100 university teachers from all around Australia and New Zealand. It covered a range of topics, from higher degree research in human rights from the perspective of students (including former CIGJ visiting PhD student Rosemary Grey) and supervisors, to clinical teaching in human rights. Sarah Holcombe (ANU) gave a fascinating account of the project of translating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into the central-Australian language of Pintupi-Luritja.

The opening session of the Workshop was particularly engaging. It dealt with Stephen Hopgood’s recent book, The Endtimes of Human Rights, and how such a thoroughgoing critique of human rights might be used in the classroom. Continue Reading →


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Academics and practitioners: bringing together our strengths

By Philippa Smales*
Research for Development Impact Network

Domestic Workers

Bringing together academics and practitioners can strengthen research in many different areas, including in human rights and in international aid and development. Due to the nature of their work, academics and practitioners tend to conceive of and measure their research impact or outputs differently. While this can lead to a failure to connect, harnessing the strengths of both approaches can produce better outcomes, overall.

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