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.


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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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After Conflict: Memory Frictions in Timor-Leste and Aceh – Part II

By Lia Kent, Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU 

Nicolau Lobato statue, Dili airport

Nicolau Lobato statue, Dili airport

In this post, RegNet and CIGJ Fellow Lia Kent discusses themes emerging from her preliminary fieldwork in Timor-Leste and Aceh. In a previous post, Lia introduced the research project she is currently working on and its theoretical framework. Both posts are based on a seminar that Lia gave at RegNet on 24 May 2016.[i]


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After Conflict: Memory Frictions in Timor-Leste and Aceh

By Lia Kent, Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

Timorese student protest

Timorese student protest

In this post, RegNet and CIGJ Fellow Lia Kent introduces the research project she is currently working on and its theoretical framework. A second post, to be published on the 1st of July, will discuss the themes emerging from Lia’s preliminary fieldwork. Both posts are based on a seminar that Lia gave at RegNet on 24 May 2016.[i]

My project lies at an intersection between scholarship on peace-building and memory studies. I’m hoping that bringing these disciplines into dialogue will allow a nuanced appreciation of the long-term, conflictual dynamics of building peace after conflict in Timor-Leste and Aceh. Timor-Leste is a country that I know very well, while Aceh is a new context for me, so my observations about it are far more speculative at this point.

Memory practices, unsettling transitional justice and peacebuilding assumptions

In previous work, I examined the transitional justice process in Timor-Leste: the legal and quasi-legal mechanisms that were established during the period of UNTAET (2000-2002) to address crimes committed during the Indonesian occupation. My particular focus was on how ordinary East Timorese perceived and experienced the truth commission and trials. Continue Reading →

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Centre for International Governance & Justice: News & Events


Mareike Riedel Miranda ForsythRoberts_Anthea_2016 Kent_Lia_2015

We are very pleased to welcome Mareike Reidel back to the CIGJ – and as a new editor of Regarding Rights. Mareike visited us last year and has now transferred permanently from the Law & Anthropology Department at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. With a background in law, linguistics, literature and journalism, Mareike’s current PhD research is concerned with the impact of identity discourses and politics on the protection and regulation of religious minorities.

Also returning to the Centre is Miranda Forsythe. In July last year Miranda completed a three year ARC Discovery project investigating the impact of intellectual property laws on development in Pacific Island countries. Miranda has worked as a senior lecturer at the law school of the University of the South Pacific in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Her current research considers the possibilities and challenges presented by the intersections between state and non-state justice and regulatory systems. Welcome Miranda!

Welcome as well to Anthea Roberts. Anthea is a specialist in public international law, investment treaty law and arbitration and comparative international law. She has worked at the London School of Economics (2008-2015), as a Visiting Professor and Professor at Columbia Law School (2012-2015), and as a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School (2011-2012).

Finally, we are delighted to belatedly welcome Lia Kent. Lia was until recently a research fellow in ANU’s State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) program. With a background in socio-legal studies, she has research interests in the areas of transitional justice, memory studies, peacebuilding, and gender studies. Lia is currently working on an ARC Discovery project: After Conflict: Local Memories and Nation-building in Timor-Leste and Bougainville.

Senate Inquiry into payments by the Commonwealth of Australia in exchange for the turn back of asylum seeker boats

Last year Hilary Charlesworth, Jacinta Mulders and Emma Larking provided a submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee’s inquiry into payments in exchange for the turn back of asylum seeker boats. Their submission dealt with the legality of such payments under international law. Emma appeared at the Committee hearing last Friday, along with Professor Anthony Cassimatis from the University of Queensland, and Greg Hanson and David Manne from Melbourne’s Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre.

Fellowship Request

Former CIGJ visitor – and author of a recent post – Yaprak Yildiz, is hoping to visit Australia again this year. Yaprak is seeking a visiting fellowship for about three months from September or October. She is hoping to find a fellowship that will help cover the costs of her travel as well as accommodation while in Australia. If you have any leads, please email yyy23 at

Where are you now?

Are you a friend of the Centre who lives interstate or overseas, or a former CIGJ visitor? If you haven’t been in touch for a while, we would love to hear from you and to pass on your news to the Regarding Rights community. Let us know where you are working, and any other notable events such as grants awarded, PhDs submitted, and new publications.

Submission Celebrations

Jacky finalYesterday Jacky Parry submitted her PhD thesis, titled ‘Transitional justice and displacement: lessons from Liberia and Afghanistan’. Congratulations Jacky!