Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Michael Ignatieff and the Sovereign Right to be Wrong about Justice (and Law as Human Rights’ Embarrassing Forebear)

Michael Ignatieff Speaking at the National Humanities Center Source: Humanity Blog

Michael Ignatieff Speaking at the National Humanities Center
Source: Humanity Blog

By Benjamin Authers

Geoffrey Harpham’s recent posting on the Humanity Blog raises a number of interesting questions at the intersection of human rights, intervention, and law. At the heart of Harpham’s article is a talk that Michael Ignatieff gave in March 2013 at a National Humanities Center Conference on Human Rights and the Humanities. There, Ignatieff—academic, novelist, journalist, and former leader of the Canadian Liberal Party—put forward what was received as a rather controversial thesis: that states have a right to “be wrong” about justice.

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Rights Protection in Papua – Is Australia a Reluctant Neighbour?

 By Budi Hernawan

West Papuan students being held in Timika Police Custody after the 1 May incident

West Papuan students being held in Timika Police Custody after the 1 May incident

The recent fatal shootings in Papua by the Indonesian authorities are not novel. Rather, they are the latest in an ongoing pattern of human rights abuse. The gravity of the crackdown in the context of which the shootings occurred has been emphasised  not only by local human rights groups but also by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. In a public statement released just two days after the shootings, she said she was disappointed to see ‘violence and abuses continuing in Papua’, and she described the latest incidents  as ‘unfortunate examples of the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua.’  Such a prompt response from the highest UN official dealing with human rights sends a clear signal that the violence in Papua is by no means a low priority on the UN’s human rights agenda.

In claiming that ‘[i]nternational human rights law requires the Government of Indonesia to conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into the incidents of killings and torture and [to] bring the perpetrators to justice’, Pillay invokes the fundamental responsibility of all states to protect their own citizens.  Continue Reading →