Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

Leave a comment

The ‘call and answer’ of the Universal Periodic Review. Against ‘ritualism’?

By Shane Chalmers

Regulatory Institutions Network, ANU

AHRC Australia's Universal Periodic Review 2012

AHRC Australia’s Universal Periodic Review 2012

The following piece draws on the work of two scholars: Jane Cowan’s paper on ‘an anthropology of the UPR’ presented at the Centre for International Governance and Justice’s Workshop on Rights, Ritual and Ritualism: The Universal Periodic Review at the Australian National University, Canberra, 13–14 December 2012; and Desmond Manderson’s book Kangaroo Courts and the Rule of Law (Routledge, 2012). Where these two scholars meet here is in the notion of ‘call and answer’ (to use Manderson’s phrase) — in the contention of many voices resounding inharmoniously — in the ritual dialogue of the international human rights Universal Periodic Review process.

In what briefly follows I reflect on how the United Nations’ human rights Universal Periodic Review (UPR) might represent a form of ‘regulatory ritual’ that denies, by its very form, the calcifying effect of ‘ritualism’. Before I turn to the UPR itself, however, first a few words on how I understand the terms ‘ritual’ and ‘ritualism’—two concepts employed by Professor Hilary Charlesworth in relation to human rights through her project ‘Strengthening the International Human Rights System’.

Continue Reading →

Leave a comment

Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

IGLP Workshop

CIGJ PhD Scholar, Suzanne Akila

CIGJ PhD Scholar, Suzanne Akila

Last month Suzanne Akila attended the Institute for Global Law and Policy’s (IGLP) 4th annual workshop for early career researchers in Doha, Qatar. Suzanne is a PhD scholar at CIGJ whose work examines how and why states act to protect the human rights of their citizens abroad. According to Suzanne

Examples such as Guantánamo Bay illuminate the role that states can take in securing and protecting the rights of their citizens…and the dire result if they do not. It also demonstrates that the law, while providing an important infrastructure for identifying wrongdoing and establishing legal procedures, does not and cannot exclusively explain how states decide to intervene…

My work explores the key factors and conditions that influence the exercise of state action to protect citizens abroad. It seeks to understand the regulatory forces of action and inaction by actors in international law and the process by which states choose to resolve disputes by judicial or non-judicial means.

Suzanne found the IGLP workshop, in which participants are immersed in an intensive program combining seminar presentations, writing workshops, lectures, and discussion groups, stimulating and enriching. She also benefited from the feedback provided by workshop participants in relation to her own work. For example, she noted the challenge provided by Professor Karen Engle’s  insight that even ‘non-judicial’ or ‘non-legal’ pathways to rights and justice (such as diplomatic negotiations) operate ‘within the shadow of the law’ and subject to its constraints. 

Rights, Ritualism, and the UPR

Next week’s featured post on Regarding Rights considers the United Nations’ human rights monitoring mechanism, the Universal Periodic Review. Drawing on the terminology employed by Professor Hilary Charlesworth in her project ‘Strengthening the International Human Rights System’, RegNet PhD scholar Shane Chalmers uses the concepts of ritual and ritualism to interrogate the power and potential of the UPR, and finds reason to celebrate ‘the contention of many voices’ in the review process.

Leave a comment

Legal Challenge to Detention on Manus

By Emma Larking

Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

A protest by asylum seekers held at the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie, Sydney Morning Herald

A protest by asylum seekers held at the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie, Sydney Morning Herald

Regarding Rights is following a legal challenge to the Manus Island Asylum Seeker Detention Centre with interest (see the report in yesterday’s Australian). The challenge was lodged last month by PNG opposition leader Belden Namah, who claims the Detention Centre, and the Agreement with Australia to establish and run the Centre, breaches the PNG Constitution. Namah’s lawyers, along with commentators in the Australian media, suggest the challenge has strong prospects of success given the PNG constitution provides a protection of individual liberty which is not limited to citizens of the country. I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but according to my reading of the constitution, the situation is somewhat more complicated.

Continue Reading →

1 Comment

Does the End Justify the Means? The Italian Machiavellian Response to Illegal Immigration

“La porta di Lampedusa” (Lampedusa’s door), also known as “La porta d’Europa” (Europe’s door). The monument, “looking” towards Africa, was built in 2008 on the Italian island of Lampedusa in memory of more than 10,000 migrants who died over the years while they were trying to reach the island.

By Paola Forgione

Gaddafi’s first official visits to Italy back in 2009 and 2010 hit the headlines for the extravagancies of the Libyan leader, including his hiring of hundreds of Italian models to be the audience of his lecture on Islam, and his failure to go to a prescheduled meeting at the Italian Parliament. However, the leader’s folkloristic eccentricities were probably reflecting his egocentric satisfaction for the agreement that he had signed with the then Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi in August 2008, whose anniversary was the reason for his visit. In the agreement, the “Treaty on Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation” (hereinafter “The Treaty”), Italy expressed its apology for the “pain inflicted to the Libyan people” during the colonization of Libya, carried out by the former Kingdom of Italy between 1911 and 1943. Under the chapter titled “closing the door on the past”, Italy committed to investing US$5bn for infrastructure in Libya. In exchange, Libya undertook to cooperate with Italian authorities in the fight against illegal immigration. Continue Reading →

Leave a comment

Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

Dr Susan Harris RimmerWelcome to Dr Susan Harris Rimmer

Susan Harris Rimmer has recently joined the ANU School of Regulation, Justice and Diplomacy as Director of Studies for the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy.

Susan brings 14 years’ experience as a lawyer, researcher, campaigner, and policy analyst on issues of human rights, refugees, international development, and women’s policy to the APCD. She is the outgoing President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and a past board member of the UN Women National Committee Australia. Susan is the author of Gender and Transitional Justice: The Women of East Timor (Routledge 2010) and many refereed articles, and was the winner of the 2006 Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on the Human Rights of Women.

Susan’s research encompasses a broad range of issues in human rights, feminism, and international law; we at Regarding Rights are particularly looking forward to learning more about her developing work in diplomacy, human rights and civil society movements, and on the role of diplomacy as a normative practice to diminish conflict.

Welcome, Susan!

Special Forthcoming Issue of Intersections

Hilary Charlesworth and Margaret Jolly are co-editing a special upcoming issue of the journal Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. Continue Reading →