Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

Examining legal responses to forced migration

Vera's students 1

Emma with Dr Věra Honusková and students from Věra’s ‘Asylum and Refugee Law Clinic’ at Charles University, Prague.

 Emma Larking was a guest speaker at a conference on ‘Legal Responses to Forced Mass Migration: Regional Approaches and Perspectives’ in Olomouc, the Czech Republic, last month.

A focus at the conference on forced migration within Africa provided a fascinating and useful corrective to characterisations of refugee flows into Europe as a crisis. It also challenged the idea – widespread in Europe – that the continent is the primary destination for all people forced into exile in Africa or the Middle East.

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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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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

The Future of Women’s Engagement with International Law

Hilary Charlesworth with members of the International Court of Justice

Since Hilary Charlesworth, Christine Chinkin, and Shelley Wright published their ground-breaking ‘Feminist Approaches to International Law’ in 1991, scholars and advocates have been exploring the interaction between the rights and well-being of women and the promise of international law. The Future of Women’s Engagement with International Law Project aims to define the research agenda for women’s engagement with international law over the next 50 years. Continue Reading →


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Centre for International Governance & Justice: News & Events

Hilary LouvainLast month CIGJ Director Hilary Charlesworth travelled to Belgium to receive a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Law and Criminology at the Catholic University of Louvain. Along 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 of ‘Law and Emancipation’. Her citation for the degree spoke of Hilary’s contributions to the feminist critique of international law, and noted that through her theoretical work and public engagement she has ‘questioned relentlessly, without complacency, but also without defeatism, the emancipatory promise of law’. The award had special significance for Hilary as her father, Professor Max Charlesworth, received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Louvain. Congratulations Hilary!


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Centre for International Governance & Justice: News & Events

Celebrating Hilary Charlesworth’s time at ANU

HilaryAlthough she retains a fractional appointment at ANU and will stay on as director of the CIGJ, Hilary Charlesworth is moving to Melbourne where she will take up a position in June as Laureate Professor in the University of Melbourne’s Law School.

Hilary’s time at ANU was celebrated recently at an event that highlighted her remarkable contributions not only to the university but to the wider community, and not only to scholarship but to the development of human rights and international law.

At ANU, Hilary had an appointment as Professor of International Law and Human Rights in the College of Law as well as her role as Professor and CIGJ Director at RegNet. She served as head of school at RegNet and on the Gender Institute’s Management Committee from the time of the Institute’s founding in 2011. Beyond ANU, Hilary worked with and supported many community groups, including as patron of the ACT Women’s Legal Centre. Hilary was also chair of the Stanhope Government’s inquiry into an ACT bill of rights, which led to the adoption in 2004 of Australia’s first Human Rights Act. In 2011, Hilary was appointed judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice for the Whaling in the Antarctic case.

Sharon Friel (Director of RegNet), John Braithwaite (RegNet’s founder), Veronica Taylor (Dean of the College of Asia & the Pacific), Margaret Jolly (Professor in the School of Culture, History and Language), Helen Watchirs (ACT Human Rights Commissioner, and a former student of Hilary’s), and Nara Ganbat (recipient of one of Hilary’s ARC Laureate fellowship PhD scholarships) all spoke.

As well as noting Hilary’s dedication to justice causes both local and global, they described her calm and poise, her warmth, humour and generosity, her wisdom and her intellect.

Nara has kindly agreed to let Regarding Rights publish her speech:

Nara Ganbat’s Speech for Hilary

I am delighted and honoured to speak about Hilary tonight on behalf of her PhD students.

My PhD studies brought me and my family a long way from my safe, comfortable home in Mongolia, where life is very different from here. This journey has been more challenging than I could ever have imagined. Very fortunately, I had Hilary, who not only cares about my intellectual journey, but also my personal life.

In the last four years of being her student, I have had rich learnings and many discoveries. My perspective has changed in many respects. I thought that the task of a PhD student was to write one big essay, but Hilary has taught me that the journey is just as important as the destination. I also thought that a PhD is about exploring the outer world, but Hilary showed me that it is also about knowing and building your inner world.

I asked my PhD colleagues to share their feelings and thoughts about Hilary. Cynthia Banham said:

Hilary has taught me many things, including about just how evil the passive voice really is; that I must always avoid using unnecessary words; and how to use commas, though I still have a way to go there. 

I know I will never, ever meet anyone as generous and caring and all wise and smart as Hilary, but I will always know that such a person exists and really, how fortunate I am to have had her as my supervisor.

Jacqueline Parry said:

Something I’ve always associated with Hilary is the wonderful list of analogies she would use to describe doing a PhD. I always took this as an incredibly thoughtful method of conveying the PhD process in a very personalised way.

In addition to her law degree, Jacky has a music degree and is a professional pianist. Hilary would say to Jacky, ‘writing a PhD is just like writing a symphony…first you launch into the impressive sonata, and then comes the peaceful adagio…’; or ‘writing a PhD is like being a ballerina, because of their discipline: you must demonstrate first position, then second position…’.

All Hilary’s students know her other popular analogies for the writing process, such as making soup, jam or cake. We have all put ourselves into the shoes of the potter, who struggles to create a vase. We have also been a little scared when reminded by Hilary of the story of Mr Casaubon, from George Eliot’s novel, Middlemarch. Mr Casaubon, a brilliant but conflicted intellectual, could not bring his research to an end. Sadly, he died before he could complete his grand work ‘The Key to All Mythologies’!

Hilary, with all these provoking stories, you have converted me into an analogist. I have one for you now:

The way you supervise your PhD students is reminiscent of the passionate and wise gardener. You grow a garden of flowers, each very different from one another. You carefully study a seed and put it into the soil that fits its kind. Then you grow every one of your seedlings with incredible love and care. You know when a seedling needs water, sun or minerals. You even tell funny, scary and thoughtful stories to your seedlings. You relentlessly work for them for hours and hours. You never stop caring for your seedlings even when you are much occupied by other things. You love watching them grow and you truly believe that each seed will bloom into a beautiful flower; even when you have a seed that is a little unusual, like me. I feel extremely fortunate to have grown in your hands. For all of these things and more, we love you so much, Hilary.

Imelda Deinla analyses what is likely to motivate voters in next Monday’s presidential elections in the Philippines

Philippines elections

Photo: East Asia Forum

In a recent blog post for East Asia Forum, RegNet postdoctoral fellow, Imelda Deinla, argues that economic growth in the Philippines has not been fairly distributed, and that the country suffers from a rule of law deficit. She considers the implications for the May 9th presidential elections.


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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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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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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

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Participants in the ‘Rights, Regulation and Ritualism’ Workshop

Workshop on Rights, Regulation and Ritualism

This week CIGJ hosted a workshop at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law in Oñati, Spain.  The workshop was designed to review some of the outcomes of CIGJ Director Hilary Charlesworth’s Australian Research Council Laureate Project on ‘Strengthening the International Human Rights System: Rights, Regulation and Ritualism’.

With Hilary, Laureate postdoctoral fellows (and RR editors), Ben Authers and Emma Larking presented aspects of their research to workshop participants: Jane Connors, who until recently was Director of the Research and Right to Development Division at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human  Rights; Carla Ferstman, who is Director of the UK based NGO, REDRESS; Rumyana Grozdanova, who visited the CIGJ as part of the Laureate’s Visiting PhD Scholarship program and who is now a lecturer in law at the University of Liverpool; Robert McCorquodale, who is a leader in the field of international law and human rights, and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law; Tess McEvoy, who is a human rights lawyer currently working for the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva; and Ciara O´Connell, who also visited the CIGJ as one of its Visiting PhD Scholarship recipients and who is completing her PhD at the University of Sussex.

Participants provided helpful feedback on the research presented, reflecting the depth and diversity of their combined experience, as well as intellectual generosity in bringing this experience and their critical capacities to bear on the central issue with which the Laureate project engages: the ritualism that characterises many states´ responses to their human rights obligations.

As well as critically engaging with the research outcomes of the Laureate project, participants used the lenses of ritual and ritualism to reflect on how their own work relates to the Laureate research, leading to fruitful discussions concerning the wider applications of the project´s conceptual framework.

Geneva Launch of Human Rights and the Universal Periodic Review: Rituals and Ritualism

Human Rights and the Universal Periodic Review (Cambridge University Press, 2014) was launched today at the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva as part of an event focused on the role played by civil society in the United Nations’ human rights monitoring mechanism, the Universal Periodic Review, or UPR, as it is now widely known. The event was co-sponsored by the Australian, Namibian and Paraguayan Missions and by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). Human Rights and the Universal Periodic Review is edited by Hilary Charlesworth and Emma Larking, and contains chapters by Ben Authers and former Laureate postdoctoral fellow, Takele Bulto, as well as a range of human rights academics and practitioners who have worked closely with the UPR. Many contributors were present at the launch, including Julie Billaud, Jane Cowan, Roland Chauville, and Phil Lynch.

‘The Complementary Roles of States and Civil Society in the UPR Process’ was also used to launch a new guide by UPR Info on the role of ‘recommending states’ at the UPR. Hilary Charlesworth spoke on a panel with Sabine Böhlke-Möhlke, the Namibian ambassador, Shahrzad Tadjbakhsh, Chief of the UPR Branch at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Miloon Kothari, from the NGO, UPR Info. The panel was chaired by John Quinn, Permanent Representative of Australia. Read Hilary’s address here: Hilary Charlesworth, The Complementary Roles of States and Civil Society in the UPR Process.


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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

Cynthia BanhamCongratulations to Cynthia Banham

Frequent Regarding Rights contributor and CIGJ member Cynthia Banham has successfully completed her PhD. Titled “The Responses of Liberal Democracies to the Torture of Citizens: A Comparative Study”, Cynthia’s research compares how three liberal democracies – Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom – responded to the torture of their own citizens after 11 September 2001. One of Cynthia’s examiner’s reports described her thesis as “an engaging read from beginning to end,” praising its detailed empirical analysis; another hailed it as a “substantial, original, well-written and well-documented contribution” to the field. This examiner added that, “The writing…was crystal clear, and the structure effective and well thought out.” Congratulations on a fantastic achievement, Cynthia!

Human Rights and the Universal Periodic Review: Rituals and Ritualism released

The new year also saw the publication of a new volume by CIGJ researchers. Edited by Hilary Charlesworth and Emma Larking, Human Rights and the Universal Periodic Review: Rituals and Ritualism (published by Cambridge University Press) provides the first sustained analysis of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and explains how the Review functions within the architecture of the United Nations. Drawing on socio-legal scholarship and the insights of human rights practitioners, essays in the volume consider the UPR’s regulatory power and the rituals and ritualism associated with the Review, and suggests how this ritualism might be overcome. Chapters include an examination of Canada’s appearance before the UPR by Regarding Rights editor, Benjamin Authers, and a consideration of Africa’s engagement with the mechanism by CIGJ affiliate, Takele Bulto.

Talk by  Bryan Stevenson

The upcoming Fifth Annual Human Rights Tertiary Teachers’ Workshop will feature a keynote lecture by Bryan Stevenson, Professor at NYU Law School and Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. One of America’s leading human rights lawyers and clinical law professors, Stevenson has been described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as American’s own Nelson Mandela and his soon to be released book, Just Mercy, has been described in the New York Times as ‘searing, moving and infuriating memoir’ of his experience in tackling racism and injustice in the American justice system. Bryan will offer his reflections on how to engage and motivate students to protect and promote human rights beyond the classroom.

If you’re interested in attending the Workshop, please register through this webform.