Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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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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The Politics of Australian Asylum and Border Policy: Escaping the Duelling Paradigms

By Jonathan Kent, University of Toronto

The Abbott government’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy appears to have stopped irregular maritime arrivals to Australia. In the first six months of 2013 (under Labor), 13,108 individuals arrived by boat, while during the first half of 2014 (under the Abbott Coalition Government) there were no boat arrivals.

The Government justifies its tough border policy using the humane and noble logic that it prevents people from dying at sea and puts an end to the exploitation of desperate souls by people smugglers. Whatever the figures on arrivals are, it is far more difficult to estimate the number of individuals who no longer have a viable pathway to a ‘durable solution’ now that Australia has shut the door. Though the current policy meets its most practical objective of ‘stopping the boats’, it is neither a stable nor a viable longterm policy. Continue Reading →