Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Advance Australia Unfair

By Emma Larking,

RegNet, ANU

Australian Foreign Minister, Hon. Ms. Julie Bishop met Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage at the Naval Headquarters on 15th November 2013. Image: navaltoday.com

Australia is pouring money into a system that targets the vulnerable in our region, and it is doing so with considerable secrecy and scant regard for the costs.


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Civil Society Resistance in Liberal Democracies in a Time of Rising Non-Accountability

By Cynthia Banham*

School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland, and RegNet, ANU

No way

Political accountability, we are taught to believe, is a defining feature of liberal democracies. A basic relationship of accountability lies at the heart of democratic government: citizens elect their political representatives, and these representatives become accountable to voters. Yet political accountability, as we have traditionally understood it to exist in liberal democracy, is under stress.

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Rethinking the International Criminal Justice Project in the Global South

By Michelle Burgis-Kasthala*

Centre for International Governance and Justice, RegNet, ANU

ICC in Ivory Coast in 2013. Image: BBC News

ICC in Ivory Coast in 2013. Image: BBC News

Concerns about the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) continuing relevance in Africa following exit announcements by Burundi, South Africa, and Gambia are widespread. But the picture across the continent is more complex. While some African states have clearly rejected the Court, the majority remain members. How can we explain the fracturing of the Court’s support in Africa? More fundamentally – what is the best way of studying international criminal justice and its effects in the Global South – whether in Africa or elsewhere?

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The role of civil society in Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review

By Kirsty Anantharajah

Centre for International Governance and Justice, RegNet, ANU

Sri Lankan civil war. Image: Andy Freifeld/Pinterest

Sri Lankan civil war. Image: Andy Freifeld/Pinterest

Sri Lanka’s game playing at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) during its first two reviews in 2008 and 2012 tested the ability of this human rights mechanism to achieve its aims and maintain the integrity of its principles, including objectivity and transparency. This post explores how the proactive participation of civil society pushed back against the rights ritualism displayed by the Sri Lankan state at the UPR.[i]

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A Family Destruction Lens on Warfare

By John Braithwaite, RegNet, ANU

Official opening of the Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. Photo: State Library of Queensland

Official opening of Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. Photo: State Library of Queensland

Conducting fieldwork in conflict and post-conflict zones, I keep meeting people who say their lives have no meaning. That which gives life meaning, the warmth and trust and stability provided by healthy and loving human relationships, is a target of war. Victims are forced to watch their loved ones brutalised, and it is also a tactic of war to force people to commit acts of horrendous violence on those they love.

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The Vengeful State: How Democratic Governments Respond to National Security Leaks

By Peter Grabosky, RegNet, ANU

Image: WikiLeaks

Image: WikiLeaks

States usually respond harshly when individuals publicly disclose national security information without authorisation. I have written elsewhere about the vengeance wreaked by the French State in the Dreyfus Affair; by the British Executive in response to Clive Ponting’s disclosure of information about the sinking of the Argentine cruiser the General Belgrano during the Falklands war; by the Israeli Government in response to Morechai Vanunu’s disclosure of state nuclear secrets; and by the US Administration in the case of the Pentagon papers.[1]

More recently, the leaking of classified information by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden again highlighted the tension between state secrecy in purported defence of national security and the public’s right to know about the operations of government and public authorities. Continue Reading →


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Law and Emancipation

By Hilary Charlesworth,

Centre for International Governance and Justice

Hilary Louvain

On 21st April, CIGJ Director Hilary Charlesworth was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Faculty of Law and Criminology at the Catholic University of Louvain. With Professors Michael Grimaldi from the Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II) and Jonathan Simon from the University of California, Berkeley, Hilary was honoured in a ceremony based on the theme, ‘Law and Emancipation’. This is the address given by Hilary at the conferral ceremony:

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After Conflict: Memory Frictions in Timor-Leste and Aceh – Part II

By Lia Kent, Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU 

Nicolau Lobato statue, Dili airport

Nicolau Lobato statue, Dili airport

In this post, RegNet and CIGJ Fellow Lia Kent discusses themes emerging from her preliminary fieldwork in Timor-Leste and Aceh. In a previous post, Lia introduced the research project she is currently working on and its theoretical framework. Both posts are based on a seminar that Lia gave at RegNet on 24 May 2016.[i]

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After Conflict: Memory Frictions in Timor-Leste and Aceh

By Lia Kent, Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

Timorese student protest

Timorese student protest

In this post, RegNet and CIGJ Fellow Lia Kent introduces the research project she is currently working on and its theoretical framework. A second post, to be published on the 1st of July, will discuss the themes emerging from Lia’s preliminary fieldwork. Both posts are based on a seminar that Lia gave at RegNet on 24 May 2016.[i]

My project lies at an intersection between scholarship on peace-building and memory studies. I’m hoping that bringing these disciplines into dialogue will allow a nuanced appreciation of the long-term, conflictual dynamics of building peace after conflict in Timor-Leste and Aceh. Timor-Leste is a country that I know very well, while Aceh is a new context for me, so my observations about it are far more speculative at this point.

Memory practices, unsettling transitional justice and peacebuilding assumptions

In previous work, I examined the transitional justice process in Timor-Leste: the legal and quasi-legal mechanisms that were established during the period of UNTAET (2000-2002) to address crimes committed during the Indonesian occupation. My particular focus was on how ordinary East Timorese perceived and experienced the truth commission and trials. Continue Reading →


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Being Detained: Prelude to a thesis on Liberia and the rule of law

By Shane Chalmers*

Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

‘Nimba County Prison Inmates, Liberia’ (photo: United Nations/Christopher Herwig)

‘Nimba County Prison Inmates, Liberia’ (photo: United Nations/Christopher Herwig)

The Training and Development Officer from the Corrections Advisory Unit of the United Nations Mission in Liberia is standing outside the prison gate, her white skin marking her out as much as her blue UN insignia. I have crossed this street innumerable times before but have never noticed the ‘corrections facility’. Its towering perimeter wall blends into the Ministry of Defence and military barracks that run alongside, but even these do not stand out in Monrovia; this could have been any other international NGO compound. The urban streetscape of Liberia’s capital city is dominated by walls topped with razor wire and patrolled by private security guards. Continue Reading →