Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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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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Centre for International Governance & Justice: News & Events

John's blogIntroducing the Braithwaite Blog

John Braithwaite – RegNet founder, champion of restorative justice, and leader of the epic ‘Peacebuilding Compared’ project, has established a new blog on war, crime, and regulation. In his introduction to the blog, John explains how overcoming domination in our world has been a central focus of his work, and the connections between war, crime, and regulation:

War and crime are among the most severe forms of domination that exist. They are both phenomena that cascade from hot spot to hot spot, and they often cascade into each other. Yet the prevention of war makes a significant contribution to the prevention of crime and the prevention of crime contributes to the prevention of war.

[My] work contributes to our understanding of how good governance might reduce the amount of domination in the world – an idea that has been around since the time of the ancient Roman Republic. One way to resist domination is through exposing the connections between unjust inequality, crime and war. Peace based on a continuation of domination, or peace without justice, is rarely sustainable…Read more here.

John’s first post discusses the report produced by Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence released on 30th March. The Commission was chaired by former Judge of the Victorian Supreme Court, Marcia Neave and is, in John’s view, ‘a stupendously impressive piece of social policy’.

Congratulations Shane

Shane, Jeremy, and ‘Law’s rule – Liberia and the rule of law’

Shane, Jeremy, and ‘Law’s rule – Liberia and the rule of law’

We are thrilled to congratulate RegNet PhD scholar and Regarding Rights contributor, Shane Chalmers, on the submission of his PhD earlier this month. Shane’s thesis was supervised by Jeremy Farrall and is titled, ‘Law’s rule – Liberia and the rule of law’. Shane’s research, he says, involved:

asking the question, what takes place in the rule of law?, and more specifically, what is taking place in the rule of law in Liberia? [Through this question] the thesis undertakes a study of the life of law’s rule in a country that is on the frontline of the global spread of powerful ideologies. With Theodor Adorno’s negative-dialectical philosophy as intellectual guide, and based on fieldwork carried out in Liberia and the United States, my thesis examines how these ideologies – above all capitalism – inform the rule of law, and how the rule of law provides a medium for them to take place.

Shane has promised Regarding Rights another blog when he has had a chance to recover from the rigours of finishing his thesis, so we are looking forward to learning more about this fascinating research!


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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 →