Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

Centre for International Governance & Justice: News & Events

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Celebrating Hilary Charlesworth’s time at ANU

HilaryAlthough she retains a fractional appointment at ANU and will stay on as director of the CIGJ, Hilary Charlesworth is moving to Melbourne where she will take up a position in June as Laureate Professor in the University of Melbourne’s Law School.

Hilary’s time at ANU was celebrated recently at an event that highlighted her remarkable contributions not only to the university but to the wider community, and not only to scholarship but to the development of human rights and international law.

At ANU, Hilary had an appointment as Professor of International Law and Human Rights in the College of Law as well as her role as Professor and CIGJ Director at RegNet. She served as head of school at RegNet and on the Gender Institute’s Management Committee from the time of the Institute’s founding in 2011. Beyond ANU, Hilary worked with and supported many community groups, including as patron of the ACT Women’s Legal Centre. Hilary was also chair of the Stanhope Government’s inquiry into an ACT bill of rights, which led to the adoption in 2004 of Australia’s first Human Rights Act. In 2011, Hilary was appointed judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice for the Whaling in the Antarctic case.

Sharon Friel (Director of RegNet), John Braithwaite (RegNet’s founder), Veronica Taylor (Dean of the College of Asia & the Pacific), Margaret Jolly (Professor in the School of Culture, History and Language), Helen Watchirs (ACT Human Rights Commissioner, and a former student of Hilary’s), and Nara Ganbat (recipient of one of Hilary’s ARC Laureate fellowship PhD scholarships) all spoke.

As well as noting Hilary’s dedication to justice causes both local and global, they described her calm and poise, her warmth, humour and generosity, her wisdom and her intellect.

Nara has kindly agreed to let Regarding Rights publish her speech:

Nara Ganbat’s Speech for Hilary

I am delighted and honoured to speak about Hilary tonight on behalf of her PhD students.

My PhD studies brought me and my family a long way from my safe, comfortable home in Mongolia, where life is very different from here. This journey has been more challenging than I could ever have imagined. Very fortunately, I had Hilary, who not only cares about my intellectual journey, but also my personal life.

In the last four years of being her student, I have had rich learnings and many discoveries. My perspective has changed in many respects. I thought that the task of a PhD student was to write one big essay, but Hilary has taught me that the journey is just as important as the destination. I also thought that a PhD is about exploring the outer world, but Hilary showed me that it is also about knowing and building your inner world.

I asked my PhD colleagues to share their feelings and thoughts about Hilary. Cynthia Banham said:

Hilary has taught me many things, including about just how evil the passive voice really is; that I must always avoid using unnecessary words; and how to use commas, though I still have a way to go there. 

I know I will never, ever meet anyone as generous and caring and all wise and smart as Hilary, but I will always know that such a person exists and really, how fortunate I am to have had her as my supervisor.

Jacqueline Parry said:

Something I’ve always associated with Hilary is the wonderful list of analogies she would use to describe doing a PhD. I always took this as an incredibly thoughtful method of conveying the PhD process in a very personalised way.

In addition to her law degree, Jacky has a music degree and is a professional pianist. Hilary would say to Jacky, ‘writing a PhD is just like writing a symphony…first you launch into the impressive sonata, and then comes the peaceful adagio…’; or ‘writing a PhD is like being a ballerina, because of their discipline: you must demonstrate first position, then second position…’.

All Hilary’s students know her other popular analogies for the writing process, such as making soup, jam or cake. We have all put ourselves into the shoes of the potter, who struggles to create a vase. We have also been a little scared when reminded by Hilary of the story of Mr Casaubon, from George Eliot’s novel, Middlemarch. Mr Casaubon, a brilliant but conflicted intellectual, could not bring his research to an end. Sadly, he died before he could complete his grand work ‘The Key to All Mythologies’!

Hilary, with all these provoking stories, you have converted me into an analogist. I have one for you now:

The way you supervise your PhD students is reminiscent of the passionate and wise gardener. You grow a garden of flowers, each very different from one another. You carefully study a seed and put it into the soil that fits its kind. Then you grow every one of your seedlings with incredible love and care. You know when a seedling needs water, sun or minerals. You even tell funny, scary and thoughtful stories to your seedlings. You relentlessly work for them for hours and hours. You never stop caring for your seedlings even when you are much occupied by other things. You love watching them grow and you truly believe that each seed will bloom into a beautiful flower; even when you have a seed that is a little unusual, like me. I feel extremely fortunate to have grown in your hands. For all of these things and more, we love you so much, Hilary.

Imelda Deinla analyses what is likely to motivate voters in next Monday’s presidential elections in the Philippines

Philippines elections

Photo: East Asia Forum

In a recent blog post for East Asia Forum, RegNet postdoctoral fellow, Imelda Deinla, argues that economic growth in the Philippines has not been fairly distributed, and that the country suffers from a rule of law deficit. She considers the implications for the May 9th presidential elections.

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