Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Normative Esperanto? A Closer Look at the Proposed Indicatorisation of the Right to Development in the UN

Declaration on RTDBy Siobhán Airey

There is now a very solid body of literature, both scholarly and practice-focused, on the relationship between indicators and human rights. It addresses pragmatic considerations (how indicators can develop precision on the normative content of human rights, especially for socio-economic human rights, and aid the monitoring of states’ duties to fulfill their international human rights obligations); political considerations (how the use of indicators can result in shifts in relationships between different policy spheres and their institutional mechanisms and human rights, and between human rights actors such as rights-holders and duty-bearers and those with responsibility for monitoring those institutions and actors); epistemological questions with normative effects (how indicators can foreground certain kinds of knowledge and ways of seeing the world and, through their use in a human rights context, can shape what we think a human right might be). This work can also illuminate the role of indicators, especially in a human rights context, in helping to solidify the “legality” of human rights norms (helping them become more “law-like”).

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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

The past week has seen a number of presentations by visitors to the CIGJ. On Wednesday afternoon, Professor Ann Orford of the University of Melbourne Law School gave a fascinating masterclass on critical theory and legal scholarship, in which she explored the contested relationship between the critical scholar, the production of knowledge, and the object of that knowledge.

This was followed on Thursday morning by CIGJ Visiting Scholar Siobhán Airey, who presented “Sovereignty’s sanctimony in ODA – a Jar’Edo Wens or Janus in international law?”. Siobhan’s talk examined Official Development Assistance (ODA) as an instrument of global governance through the insights of Foucault and Carl Schmitt, and analysed the tensions between ideas of sovereignty and the disciplinary decision-making practices of ODA donors.

Finally, on Friday Yaprak Yildiz presented “Avowal and disavowal of state violence: confessional performances of perpetrators.” In this seminar, Yaprak spoke of her research on truth-telling in reconciliation processes. She considered cases of confessions by Turkish state officials for atrocities committed against the Kurdish population.

We also want to alert Regarding Rights readers to this recent article on the Conversation by RR contributor, Fiona McGaughey, writing on her observations of Australia’s appearance this month before the Universal Periodic Review.


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Political Participation: Where are Women with Disabilities?

Image from Wheels for Humanity Indonesia http://ucpruk.org

Image from Wheels for Humanity Indonesia
http://ucpruk.org

By Jane Connors

We celebrated 70 years of the United Nations (UN) on 24 October, with landmarks all over the world, including Uluru, controversially, turning UN blue in commemoration.

The few human rights provisions of the UN Charter form the basis of international legal standards, established in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and institutions for the promotion and protection of the human rights of women. In 1952, the UN adopted the Convention on the Political Rights of Women. It adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, obliging States parties to eliminate discrimination against women in all fields, including public and political life, in 1979. Negotiation of these instruments was contentious: States expressed reservations on many provisions on adoption, which they confirmed on ratification or accession. Continue Reading →


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Centre for International Governance and Justice

The Centre is delighted to welcome its final two Visiting PhD Scholars under the auspices of Hilary Charlesworth’s “Strengthening the International Rights System: Rights, Regulation and Ritualism” ARC Laureate Fellowship.

Siobhán Airey is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa, where she is a member of its Human Rights Research and Education Centre. She has previously held a number of positions in the areas of rights and social justice. Siobhán’s research focuses on the role of international law in overseas development aid, and asks how international development co-operation law acts as an instrument of global governance.

Yesim Yildiz is currently undertaking a PhD in sociology at the University of Cambridge. Her work looks at the ways in which memories of traumatic violent events in modern Turkey emerge in government discourse, and the extent to which the current ruling party’s politics of memory have achieved truth, reconciliation, and justice. Yesim has also worked in rights-related areas, as well as with the BBC World Service.

We look forward to hearing more about Siobhán and Yesim’s research in Regarding Rights!

 


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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

The past two weeks have seen the CIGJ host the fantastically successful Festival of International Law. Events included workshops, film screenings, and masterclasses, and centred on international law’s role in the Palestine-Israel relationship and international criminal law as rhetoric.

This coming Wednesday, Michelle Jarvis, Deputy to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal (and who also presented a special session at the international criminal law as rhetoric workshop), will present a seminar at the CIGJ in which she reflects back over two decades of the tribunal’s work and identifies some of the key challenges for international justice in the future. The seminar is open to the public: further details can be found here.


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Creativity Calls: Designing a Monitoring Body for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples' Opening Plenary Meeting and adoption of the Conference Outcome Document, 22 September 2014, New York.  Photo: Shane Brown, Indigenous Global Coordinating Group Media Team

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples’ Opening Plenary Meeting and adoption of the Conference Outcome Document, 22 September 2014, New York.
Photo: Shane Brown, Indigenous Global Coordinating Group Media Team

By Fleur Adcock

National Centre for Indigenous Studies

Calls for an international mechanism to monitor implementation of the 2007 United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) are growing louder. The Declaration is the most comprehensive articulation of the contours of Indigenous peoples’ rights. The product of more than two decades of intensive negotiations and lobbying by Indigenous peoples and their supporters, it affirms Indigenous peoples’ rights to internal self-determination, their lands and resources, culture, equality and development, amongst others. As a non-budgetary resolution of the UN General Assembly the Declaration is not strictly binding in the way that a UN treaty is. Yet, aspects of the Declaration form part of customary international law. Since the Declaration’s adoption, the idea of a monitoring mechanism has been raised both informally and formally. But in the past year the idea has gained momentum. Continue Reading →


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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

As part of the CIGJ’s upcoming Festival of International Law, 6-7 October will see a number of events examining the role of international law in the relationship between Israel and Palestine. Events will include a public lecture and masterclass by Professor Orna Ben-Naftali (The College of Management Academic Studies) and Mr Ardi Imseis (Cambridge), as well as a screening of the movie The Law in These Parts. For further information please click here; information on the rest of the festival can be seen here.


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The (In)Visible Boundaries of the Eruv – When Religion Goes Public

Part of the eruv in St Ives, incorporated into an existing electricity pole

Part of the eruv in St Ives, incorporated into an existing electricity pole

By Mareike Riedel

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

In May 2015 the Australian Jewish News reported proudly that Sydney’s second eruv, located in the Sydney North Shore neighbourhood of St Ives, had finally became functional. The eruv is a symbolic, almost invisible enclosure marked by existing demarcations and thin wires that facilitates Shabbat observance by virtually extending the private realm to the public space. During Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, the transport of objects outside of the domestic sphere is prohibited. This includes the pushing of prams, the carrying of keys or the use of a wheelchair. An eruv allows these things to be carried outside in public. Eruvin (Aramaic plural for eruv; modern Hebrew eruvim) exist in several cities in Australia (in Melbourne, Perth and in Sydney’s eastern suburbs), but also in Europe, North America, South Africa, and Israel. The establishment of Sydney’s second eruv marked the end of the almost decade-long struggle of the local Orthodox Jewish community to install this religious structure against the fierce opposition of a significant number of local residents, who portrayed the eruv as “out of place.”

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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

In May this year, a boat from Indonesia carrying 65 asylum-seekers was intercepted by Australian authorities in international waters. Media reports suggested the boat was en route to New Zealand, but that an Australian official paid its crew US$30,000 to return with the asylum-seekers to Indonesia.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee is conducting an Inquiry into the allegations, and is due to report on 15th September.

Hilary Charlesworth, Jacinta Mulders and Emma Larking wrote a submission to the Inquiry, considering the legality of the alleged payments under international law. They argued that any such payments would be inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (2000), as well as under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951).

 

Last week the Centre hosted a visit by the wonderfully collegial and generous Tony Anghie. Professor Anghie’s masterclass and talk at Traversing Divides, the symposium held in honour of Deborah Cass by CIGJ and the Centre for International and Public Law, ranged across his experiences on the Nauru Commission, his friendship with Associate Professor Cass, and as a founding figure in the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) movement.


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Creating Permanent Memories of Torture

Image from http://www.mhpbooks.com

Image from http://www.mhpbooks.com

By Cynthia Banham

Centre for International Governance and Justice

Since Christmas 2014, it’s been possible to buy a book version of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program on global book selling websites like Book Depository and Amazon.[1]

The book version of the “torture report,” as it’s commonly known, was published by independent New York publisher Melville House. According to media accounts, it took 72 hours and the services of a dozen employees and a team of volunteers to transform the torture report into a properly formatted manuscript ready to send to the printers for publication as a paperback and ebook. Before it was a book, the torture report was (and still is) available as a PDF document that can be freely downloaded from the Internet. Continue Reading →