Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

Maria Virginia Bras Gomes
Maria Virginia Bras Gomes

We were sad to farewell Virginia Brás Gomes on Friday. During her visit, Virginia engaged in the life of the Centre with great warmth and verve, meeting with PhD and early career researchers, hosting a masterclass on the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, and delivering a public lecture on the challenges currently confronting the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Virginia was appointed to the Committee in 2008 and has served as vice-chair, as well as rapporteur on the Committee’s revised guidelines on reporting, and co-rapporteur on its General Comment on Social Security. She is currently involved in drafting a new General Comment on article 7 of the Covenant, on the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work. Virginia also gave an informal seminar at the Office of International Law in the Attorney-General’s Department. Members of the Office were interested to learn more about the working methods of the Committee and to hear about three new General Comments that it will soon begin drafting: on the business sector and human rights; on the relationship between the environment and economic, social and cultural rights; and on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, recognised in article 15(1)(b) of the Covenant.

On Friday 8th May, Dr Roland Rich, former Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund, gave a fascinating lecture on five pathologies that in his view impede the work of the UN: pathologies of sovereignty (meaning the UN tends to work with governments while ignoring civil society); risk aversion (a pathology shared by all bureaucracies but which is particularly acute at the UN); regional politicisation (resulting in membership of UN bodies that reflects regional loyalties rather than what is required to ensure these bodies function effectively); a culture of politeness that impedes improvement via informed criticism; and a culture of secrecy that is costly and self-defeating.

In forthcoming events, we are looking forward to a public lecture by Madeleine Rees of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, on Wednesday 27th May, and an informal seminar by Mareike Reidel on Friday 29th May.

 


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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

The Centre is thrilled to be hosting Virgínia Brás Gomes, senior social policy adviser in Portugal’s Ministry of Solidarity, Employment and Social Security and member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, between 3 and 15 May. An important and widely-published commentator on economic, cultural and social rights issues, while at the CIGJ Ms Brás Gomes will be leading a masterclass (open to ANU PhD scholars and Early Career Researchers) and giving a public lecture, and will be available for consultation with students and staff.

Also upcoming is a lecture on May 8th by Dr Roland Rich, former Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund and currently of Rutgers University. In “The United Nations Democracy Fund: dealing with five UN pathologies,” Dr Rich will speak on the UNDEF’s successes despite the many UN Member States who see democracy as a threat, and consider how the Fund has dealt with five UN pathologies, each an impediment to its effectiveness.