Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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Stephan Parmentier

Stephan Parmentier

We have had a lively few weeks at the Centre, with some of our favourite regular visitors returning and engaging our intellectual community with their usual generosity of spirit and clarity of insight. Professor Stephen Parmentier, of K.U. Leuven (Belgium), opened a workshop on ‘Current issues in transitional justice’ with a wonderful survey of the field, its origins, and his perception of priorities for future research. A focus of his discussion was the need to bring the political element back into transitional justice – ensuring scholars recognise the importance of non-state actors and look beyond judicial or technocratic approaches, focusing instead on such questions as how political elites balance various priorities, and how the politics of peace-building are evolving. Stephan also commented on the surprising under-representation of criminology in transitional justice studies. As Hilary Charlesworth noted in her welcome to the workshop, ANU is home to an impressive array of transitional justice scholars, and many presented at the workshop, with papers by Lia Kent on ‘Localising transitional justice,’ by Susan Harris Rimmer on ‘Trading away rights in transitions,’ and by Renee Jeffery on ‘Emotions and justice in the aftermath of atrocity’. Hun Joon Kim of Griffith University also presented on ‘The justice cascade: the origins and effectiveness of prosecutions of human rights violations’. ANU PhD scholars Sri Wahyuningroem, Fajran Zain, and Ray Nickson participated in a roundtable on their work in transitional justice. They were joined by Nicole Dicker from the University of Sydney. RegNet’s John Braithwaite provided concluding remarks, urging the necessity of rigorous inductive work informed by on the ground investigations.

This week we were joined by Professors Eve Darian-Smith (University of California, Santa Barbara, and RegNet) and Terry Halliday (Center on Law and Globalization, American Bar Foundation and University of Illinois College of Law, and RegNet). On Tuesday Eve and Terry, along with ANU’s Professor Desmond Manderson, discussed Eve’s latest book, Laws and Societies in Global Contexts: Contemporary Approaches. This was a memorable event, with Eve, Terry, and Des engaging provocatively with issues of legal power and knowledge, and the complexities associated with legal pluralism. In energetic and inimitable style, Eve has also spent the week engaging with the Centre and RegNet’s PhD and early career researchers. She gave an excellent seminar on how to start a large project (alongside her many tips for narrowing a research topic and developing a research design was the imperative to write! write more! keep writing! don’t let a day go by without writing!). Eve also hosted a workshop in which your Regarding Rights editors presented on the projects they are currently developing – in Ben’s case on human rights reporting and what is involved in ‘writing justice’ and in Emma’s case on the right to food and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

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