Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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A Family Destruction Lens on Warfare

By John Braithwaite, RegNet, ANU

Official opening of the Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. Photo: State Library of Queensland

Official opening of Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. Photo: State Library of Queensland

Conducting fieldwork in conflict and post-conflict zones, I keep meeting people who say their lives have no meaning. That which gives life meaning, the warmth and trust and stability provided by healthy and loving human relationships, is a target of war. Victims are forced to watch their loved ones brutalised, and it is also a tactic of war to force people to commit acts of horrendous violence on those they love.

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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

Coming Home by Beverley Grant, 2007. Image: Australian Human Rights Commission

Coming Home by Beverley Grant, 2007. Image: Australian Human Rights Commission

Abuse of Aboriginal children in detention does not happen in a vacuum, or without the collusion of the society that builds and runs ‘juvenile justice’ centres. Mike Seccombe has written an excellent article in The Saturday Paper explaining how successive Northern Territory governments have channelled federal funding into predominantly white electorates and away from Aboriginal communities.

Seccombe draws on analysis by John Taylor, of ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. He also quotes Jon Altman, of RegNet and the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, who emphasises the money spent on ‘locking people up rather than investing in their health, education and development’.

John Braithwaite has written about what changes we might expect from the Royal Commission into Don Dale Detention Centre, and about alternative approaches to justice, on his War ∙ Crime ∙ Regulation blog. In another post for John’s blog, Valerie Braithwaite highlights the contributions of people like Sharynne Hamilton, who completed an Indigenous internship with RegNet and is now researching Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders among children in the criminal justice system in Western Australia.

Sharynne believes that institutionalised racism affects Aboriginal children from the start of their lives, but that empowering Aboriginal communities would have a hugely positive impact:

I would love to see big programs on country. The kids love their families, their communities, they love fishing swimming hunting – often with an older person in the community like grandad. They are excellent at sport, excellent at art, and love music. But none of this is nurtured. And if they are going to be healed it has to be – and could be – easily!

To highlight the plight of Aboriginal children involved with the justice system beyond the Northern Territory, Sharynne has passed on this short video.

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Centre for International Governance & Justice: News & Events

John's blogIntroducing the Braithwaite Blog

John Braithwaite – RegNet founder, champion of restorative justice, and leader of the epic ‘Peacebuilding Compared’ project, has established a new blog on war, crime, and regulation. In his introduction to the blog, John explains how overcoming domination in our world has been a central focus of his work, and the connections between war, crime, and regulation:

War and crime are among the most severe forms of domination that exist. They are both phenomena that cascade from hot spot to hot spot, and they often cascade into each other. Yet the prevention of war makes a significant contribution to the prevention of crime and the prevention of crime contributes to the prevention of war.

[My] work contributes to our understanding of how good governance might reduce the amount of domination in the world – an idea that has been around since the time of the ancient Roman Republic. One way to resist domination is through exposing the connections between unjust inequality, crime and war. Peace based on a continuation of domination, or peace without justice, is rarely sustainable…Read more here.

John’s first post discusses the report produced by Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence released on 30th March. The Commission was chaired by former Judge of the Victorian Supreme Court, Marcia Neave and is, in John’s view, ‘a stupendously impressive piece of social policy’.

Congratulations Shane

Shane, Jeremy, and ‘Law’s rule – Liberia and the rule of law’

Shane, Jeremy, and ‘Law’s rule – Liberia and the rule of law’

We are thrilled to congratulate RegNet PhD scholar and Regarding Rights contributor, Shane Chalmers, on the submission of his PhD earlier this month. Shane’s thesis was supervised by Jeremy Farrall and is titled, ‘Law’s rule – Liberia and the rule of law’. Shane’s research, he says, involved:

asking the question, what takes place in the rule of law?, and more specifically, what is taking place in the rule of law in Liberia? [Through this question] the thesis undertakes a study of the life of law’s rule in a country that is on the frontline of the global spread of powerful ideologies. With Theodor Adorno’s negative-dialectical philosophy as intellectual guide, and based on fieldwork carried out in Liberia and the United States, my thesis examines how these ideologies – above all capitalism – inform the rule of law, and how the rule of law provides a medium for them to take place.

Shane has promised Regarding Rights another blog when he has had a chance to recover from the rigours of finishing his thesis, so we are looking forward to learning more about this fascinating research!