Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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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


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

Rituals of Human Rights Law ParticipantsLast week the CIGJ hosted a major workshop on the rituals of human rights law, developing ideas raised by Hilary Charlesworth’s ARC Laureate Fellowship project “Strengthening the international human rights system: Rights, regulation, and ritualism.” With fifteen speakers from Australia, the United Kingdom, Austria, India, Canada, and the United States, the workshop examined the manifold forms of human rights law through the lens of the rituals that imbue it with meaning and the often fraught ritualism that can attend to that.

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The ‘call and answer’ of the Universal Periodic Review. Against ‘ritualism’?

By Shane Chalmers

Regulatory Institutions Network, ANU

AHRC Australia's Universal Periodic Review 2012

AHRC Australia’s Universal Periodic Review 2012

The following piece draws on the work of two scholars: Jane Cowan’s paper on ‘an anthropology of the UPR’ presented at the Centre for International Governance and Justice’s Workshop on Rights, Ritual and Ritualism: The Universal Periodic Review at the Australian National University, Canberra, 13–14 December 2012; and Desmond Manderson’s book Kangaroo Courts and the Rule of Law (Routledge, 2012). Where these two scholars meet here is in the notion of ‘call and answer’ (to use Manderson’s phrase) — in the contention of many voices resounding inharmoniously — in the ritual dialogue of the international human rights Universal Periodic Review process.

In what briefly follows I reflect on how the United Nations’ human rights Universal Periodic Review (UPR) might represent a form of ‘regulatory ritual’ that denies, by its very form, the calcifying effect of ‘ritualism’. Before I turn to the UPR itself, however, first a few words on how I understand the terms ‘ritual’ and ‘ritualism’—two concepts employed by Professor Hilary Charlesworth in relation to human rights through her project ‘Strengthening the International Human Rights System’.

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