Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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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 →


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Academics and practitioners: bringing together our strengths

By Philippa Smales*
Research for Development Impact Network

Domestic Workers

Bringing together academics and practitioners can strengthen research in many different areas, including in human rights and in international aid and development. Due to the nature of their work, academics and practitioners tend to conceive of and measure their research impact or outputs differently. While this can lead to a failure to connect, harnessing the strengths of both approaches can produce better outcomes, overall.

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The Living Dead — An Independence Framework

By Shane Chalmers*

Centre for International Governance & Justice, RegNet, ANU

‘Untitled, 1960’ (Photograph: Joseph Moise Agbodjélou, published by The Guardian)

‘Untitled, 1960’ (Photograph: Joseph Moise Agbodjélou, published by The Guardian)

This studio portrait was taken in 1960 by the Beninese photographer Joseph Moise Agbodjélou, within months of Benin gaining independence from France. What is remarkable about the photograph is its critical-representational style, that is, its self-conscious use of the representational framework of the art form to create the art work.

The art form is studio photography, which in its traditional mode was developed to create an idealised image. The result is supposed to be a representation, of the family for instance, that one can hang in the entrance of the home as a reminder of its real nature; thus the reality of family life is the one on display in the photograph and not the dysfunctional one on display in everyday life.[1] In this way, the traditional mode of studio photography uses the representational framework uncritically to create a fantasy portrayed as reality. Continue Reading →


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Law as a site of politics: an interview with Hilary Charlesworth

By Mareike Riedel

Centre for International Governance and Justice, RegNet, ANU

Hilary-Charlesworth

This interview with CIGJ Director, Hilary Charlesworth, appeared first on Völkerrechtsblog.

Hilary Charlesworth is best known for her work on feminist theory and international law, however her intellectual curiosity extends far beyond this – for example she recently explored the role of rituals and ritualism in human rights monitoring and in 2011 she was appointed judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice for the Whaling in the Antarctic case. In 2015 Völkerrechtsblog had the pleasure to meet with Hilary Charlesworth in her sunny Canberra office and talk with her about the old and new boundaries of international law and what feminism in international institutions has in common with space food.

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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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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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The International Court of Justice and the Question of Reparations

The Peace Palace, Home of the International Court of Justice

The Peace Palace, Home of the International Court of Justice

By Carla Ferstman

Director, REDRESS

On 1 July 2015, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decided to resume the proceedings in the case of Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda), with regard to the question of reparations. The case concerns Uganda’s role in the protracted and devastating conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has caused unimaginable suffering to the civilian population. Continue Reading →


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Negotiating Rights? Multi-Stakeholder Governance, Global Food Security, and the Right to Food

The Committee on World Food Security Plenary in 2013. Photograph: Matthew Canfield

The Committee on World Food Security Plenary in 2013. Photograph: Matthew Canfield

By Matthew Canfield, New York University

It was the last day of an exhausting week of meetings at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) held annually in Rome, when civil society members trickled into a conference room for a final discussion about the week’s proceedings. Continue Reading →


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What can human rights treaties do for people? The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Mongolia

Image from the Facebook page of the Mongolian DPO Bid Chadna ("We Can")

Image from the Facebook page of the Mongolian DPO Bid Chadna (“We Can”)

By Nara Ganbat

Centre for International Governance and Justice

On a very cold evening on 13 December 2006, I was on my way back home from a women’s prison located just outside of Ulaanbaatar, where two of us from the Mongolian Human Rights Commission had spent a whole day conducting an inquiry. Suddenly my mobile phone rang and I heard a very excited voice saying ‘Congratulations! Our Convention has just been adopted by the United Nations!’ Along with excitement, I was also able to hear expectations – an expectation, first of all, that the newly adopted Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will bring change to the thousands of people with disabilities in Mongolia,[1] who are amongst the most vulnerable in our society.[2] Continue Reading →