Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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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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Federalism, Political Will, and Canada’s Commitment to International Human Rights: A Historical Perspective

Image from National Union of Public and General Employees, Canada.  http://nupge.ca/content/%5Bnid%5D/canadas-sham-response-un-human-rights-review

Image from National Union of Public and General Employees, Canada.
http://tinyurl.com/m8eoo7y

Jennifer Tunnicliffe
McMaster University

In April 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) conducted its second evaluation of Canada’s human rights progress under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The final report, which takes the form of recommendations from member states of the UNHRC, identified a number of concerns, including: the lack of a national action plan to reduce high levels of poverty; excessive use of force by police against citizens in marginalized communities; a failure to uphold the basic rights of Indigenous peoples; gender inequality; and violence against women and children, Indigenous women and girls in particular.

Central to the UPR report is a broad sense that Canada is failing to fully implement its international human rights commitments. Continue Reading →


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The ‘call and answer’ of the Universal Periodic Review. Against ‘ritualism’?

By Shane Chalmers

Regulatory Institutions Network, ANU

AHRC Australia's Universal Periodic Review 2012

AHRC Australia’s Universal Periodic Review 2012

The following piece draws on the work of two scholars: Jane Cowan’s paper on ‘an anthropology of the UPR’ presented at the Centre for International Governance and Justice’s Workshop on Rights, Ritual and Ritualism: The Universal Periodic Review at the Australian National University, Canberra, 13–14 December 2012; and Desmond Manderson’s book Kangaroo Courts and the Rule of Law (Routledge, 2012). Where these two scholars meet here is in the notion of ‘call and answer’ (to use Manderson’s phrase) — in the contention of many voices resounding inharmoniously — in the ritual dialogue of the international human rights Universal Periodic Review process.

In what briefly follows I reflect on how the United Nations’ human rights Universal Periodic Review (UPR) might represent a form of ‘regulatory ritual’ that denies, by its very form, the calcifying effect of ‘ritualism’. Before I turn to the UPR itself, however, first a few words on how I understand the terms ‘ritual’ and ‘ritualism’—two concepts employed by Professor Hilary Charlesworth in relation to human rights through her project ‘Strengthening the International Human Rights System’.

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