Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

Brazil is in crisis. And once again, the poorest will bear the burden

A protester in Brasilia. The banner reads ‘Out Temer! Out everyone!’ Photograph: The Guardian/Adriano Machado/Reuters

A protester in Brasilia. The banner reads ‘Out Temer! Out everyone!’ Photograph: The Guardian/Adriano Machado/Reuters

As Brazil faces its worst economic crisis in decades, its government is taking steps to constitutionally enshrine a 20 year austerity plan that will freeze public spending at 2016 levels until 2037. Former CIGJ Visiting PhD scholar, Mariana Prandini Assis has written an article for The Guardian decrying the precedent the policy sets in South America, and the burden it will impose on the poor in what is already one of the most unequal countries in the world.

Transitional Justice and Civil Society in Asia and the Pacific

In September, CIGJ’s Lia Kent co-hosted with the Bell School’s Joanne Wallis a two-day workshop at ANU on ‘Transitional Justice and Civil Society in Asia and the Pacific’. Among the workshop’s international visitors were Associate Professors Vasuki Nesiah, from New York University, and Jelena Subotic, from Georgia State University. As well as their contributions to the workshop, each gave a public lecture – Vasuki on ‘Commissioning Civil Society’ and Jelena on ‘The Evolution of International Transitional Justice Advocacy’.

Civil Society Asia PacificThe workshop was part of a broader project (also involving Griffith University’s Professor Renee Jeffery) that looks beyond state based approaches to examine the politics of reconciliation in Asia and the Pacific. In their introduction to the workshop, Joanne and Lia noted that the Pacific tends to be left out of global transitional justice debates, perhaps because of the paucity of formal state-led transitional justice mechanisms in the region.

Joanne and Lia suggested a focus on Asia and the Pacific would enrich the existing scholarship, especially given what is distinctive about the region. This includes the central role of customary actors and institutions in resolving conflict; and understandings of civil society that diverge from common accounts in western scholarship and that question whether civil society is a distinct sphere separate from the State. The significance of faith-based actors and organisations in Asia Pacific is also distinctive, challenging the secular focus of much transitional justice scholarship.

In his concluding remarks, RegNet’s Professor John Braithwaite emphasised the issues associated with the professionalisation and commodification of civil society organisations, particularly where non-government organisations come to see themselves as businesses beholden to key performance indicators. John contrasted this process to mass mobilisations that – as theorised by Theda Skocpol – build social capital through the involvement of many actively contributing individuals.

Duterte deliberative symposium a great success

By Jayson Lamchek

Duterte - Beyond FacebookThe symposium ‘Let’s talk: Duterte beyond Facebook’ was co-sponsored by the CIGJ with the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra and ANU’s Filipino Association. It brought together individuals with different views about the Philippine government’s War on Drugs to engage with each other and Philippine-based human rights advocates. Participants came mainly from the Filipino community in Canberra, but some also travelled from Sydney, and a representative of Migrante-Australia came from Wondonga, Victoria. The Philippine Embassy as well as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also sent delegations to observe the event.

 Participants engaged in workshops that drew out their underlying reasons for supporting, opposing, or feeling neutral about the War on Drugs. Very few said they felt neutral; the audience was almost evenly split between supporters and opponents. Those who supported Duterte’s efforts in the War on Drugs nevertheless said that protests should be welcomed. Some supporters expressed their view that the police are already adhering to strict rules of engagement in the arrest of drug suspects. During the discussion with guests from the Philippines, a relative of a victim, Mikas Matsuzawa, gave an account of the police operation that killed his uncle to illustrate how police violate rules. The Chairperson of the country’s Commission on Human Rights, Chito Gascon, noted that police investigations into wrongful killings have not resulted in any cases being filed in court.

After the symposium, many participants described the community dialogue as a model of respectful interaction and commented that such interaction is sorely absent in social media. Organisers were approached by a number of the participants keen to participate in follow-up activities and to support the campaign to stop the killings in the Philippines.

The event was livestreamed on Facebook and was viewed by more than 1,000 people. Watch the recording online here.

End of Year Good Wishes

Regarding Rights wishes all our readers a happy and peaceful end of the year, and joy in the year ahead.