Mr Malcolm Langford
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Germany
Visiting Fellow, Norwegian Centre on Human Rights, University of Oslo
"Tragedy or triumph of the Commons? Human rights and the world water crises"
Abstract: The ‘world water crisis’ has been variously identified as the massive destruction of freshwater resources, the large-scale inequities in access to drinking water and the relentless drive to privatise water services and resources. Human rights have been promoted as an antidote to these environmental, social and political forces, as is exemplified by the recent UN endorsement of the human right to water. The paper analyses the extent to which human rights offers a coherent framework for reshaping our understanding and response to the world water crisis.
Bio: Malcolm is a human rights lawyer and Senior Legal Officer at the Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction (COHRE), an international human rights organization based in Geneva. He is also European Research Associate at the Australian Human Rights Centre (University of NSW) and Senior Research Associate at the University of Mannheim in Germany. With the support of the Lionel Murphy Foundation, Malcolm completed a Master in Comparative, European and International Law at the European University Institute in Italy in 2001. Malcolm regularly carries out litigation and advocacy projects on social rights in many regions of the world in collaboration with local organizations.
He advises various UN agencies on human rights and development issues and frequently lectures and teaches on economic, social and cultural rights. He has helped pioneer the development of new international legal standards, eg General Comment No.15 on the Right to Water, issued by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the adoption of guidelines to prevent forced evictions at the national level. He has published forty articles and books on human rights, economics and law with a major book, Social Rights Jurisprudence, to be published by Cambridge University Press in late 2006. Previously in Australia he has worked for HREOC, World Vision, a private law firm and was the inaugural coordinator of the Australian Human Rights Information Centre. Malcolm spent his youth in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and later in Sydney where he obtained degrees in economics and law at the University of New South Wales. He also spent a significant time working with church and community-based groups in Sydney and Melbourne on housing issues.
Mr C Raj Kumar
School of Law, City University of Hong Kong
Mr Alex Tilman
Melbourne Representative FRETILIN
"Justice for Timor-Leste. How?"
Abstract: A more realistic and pragmatic way to look into how justice can and should be achieved for Timor-Leste through the point of view of an East Timorese.
Bio: Alex Tilman is a Member of FRETILIN, East Timor’s largest political party and was recently appointed its Melbourne spokesperson. FRETILIN is the majority in East Timor’s parliament, holding 55 of the 88 seats in the parliament. Alex Tilman grew up in East Timor.
Dr Scott Burchill
School of International and Political Studies, Deakin University
"Avoiding the cause: Australia and political persecution in West Papua"
Abstract: Despite formally acknowledging that political persecution exists in West Papua by granting 43 West Papuans TPVs on the grounds that if they were forcibly returned they would face a well founded fear of persecution, the Australian Government treats the symptoms of the problem - deterring further boat people by making it more difficult for them to assert their asylum claims - than its cause - Indonesia's persecution of independence activists in the province.
Scott Burchill is Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Social and International Studies at Deakin University. Before joining Deakin University in 1990 he was a political officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Indo-china and Europe desks) in Canberra. He has also taught at the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the University of Tasmania. Since 1995 he has been a visiting lecturer at the Peacekeeping Centre at the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre in Newcastle and the Army Command and Staff College in Queenscliff. In 1999 and 2000 he lectured at the Australian Defence College in Canberra. His research interests include the theory of International Relations, International Political Economy and Australian Foreign Policy. He is a frequent contributor to The Age, and a regular commentator on international affairs for ABC Radio and Television, and SBS TV. Most recently he is the author of The National Interest in Theories of International Relations (Palgrave, London 2005) and co-author of Theories of International Relations (3rd ed Palgrave, London 2005).
Ms Azadeh Dastyari
Law Faculty, Monash University
"Offshore processing" an Australian phenomenon?"
Abstract: In September of 2001, a ‘national crisis’ caused by a perceived influx of asylum seekers led the Australian government to negotiate a series of hasty regional arrangements with its pacific neighbours that led to the so-called ‘pacific solution’.Under the ‘pacific solution’ all asylum seekers who land in an excised territory are detained and processed in Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. Although a bill seeking to allow the processing of all asylum seekers arriving by boat in Nauru was withdrawn in August of 2006, areas of excised territory have been extended by the Coalition government over the years to the extent that it is now almost impossible for the majority of asylum seekers to access Australian territory.
Australia is not the first country to detain asylum seekers heading for its soil in neighbouring countries. Whilst Australia’s model of offshore processing is unique, the idea of offshore processing and the language used to justify it were not new in 2001. In 1981, twenty years prior to the Tampa crisis in Australia, the then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan declared that asylum seekers had become “a serious national problem detrimental to the interests of the United States”. The US adopted a policy of interdiction of Haitian asylum seekers which led to the detention and processing of asylum seekers on boats and in the US military base of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The United States also negotiated hasty agreements with its Caribbean and South American neighbours to share the perceived burden of those seeking protection.This paper will compare the offshore processing regimes of the United States and Australia. It will show that 'Offshore processing is in fact not an Australian phenomenon and that Australia’s use of offshore processing is an alarming extension of a tried and failed policy.
Bio: Azadeh Dastyari’s main area of interest is domestic and international refugee law. She is a co-author (with Dr Mary Crock and Dr Ben Saul) of 'Future Seekers II: Refugees and Irregular Migration in Australia' published by the Federation Press in June 2006 and is a co-author (with Dr Mary Crock and Cathy Preston-Thomas) of the report 'In Need of Protection: A case study of the treatment of 14 separated Afghan children in Australia’s refugee determination process', funded by the Myer Foundation. Azadeh was a co-founder of the Refugee Advocacy Volunteer Network at the University of Sydney which provides legal assistance to refugees and asylum seekers. She was a member of the founding collective for North West Friends of Refugees and on the Board of the Australians Against Racism Billboard Project. She has worked closely with various NGO's since 1999 in the refugee area, including in voluntary capacities with Amnesty International, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Refugee Advocacy and Casework Services.
Dr Joo-Cheong Tham
Law School, University of Melbourne
"Deconstructing the logic of responding to one threat with another: the perils of countering terrorism by eroding human rights"
Abstract: Unprecedented counter-terrorism laws have far-reaching implications for the human rights of everyone within Australia's jurisdiction. The presentation will consider the threats posed by such laws, their (in)consistency with Australia's international legal obligations and the urgent need for lateral and creative thinking in response.
Bio: Joo-Cheong Tham joined the Melbourne Law School in 2005. Prior to this appointment he taught at the Victoria University and La Trobe University law schools. His research focuses on anti-terrorism laws, labour laws and political finance law and his writings in all these areas have been published in international and Australian academic journals. He has also given evidence to parliamentary inquiries into terrorism laws and political finance law. His terrorism law research is presently devoted to financing of terrorism. Joo-Cheong recently completed, together with Dr Sally Young, a draft report on Australian political finance for the Democratic Audit of Australia.
Dr Carolyn Evans
Deputy Director, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, University of Melbourne
"Religious freedom and religious hatred in democratic societies"
Abstract: In 2006 the UN Declaration on Religious Freedom is 25 years old. In recent years religious hatred has posed a serious challenge to social cohesion in many States. This talk will explore the extent to which the principles of religious freedom outlined in the Declaration can assist in resolving the problems posed by religious hatred.
Bio: Dr Carolyn Evans is a graduate of the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford. She is the author of Religious Freedom under the European Convention on Human Rights (OUP, 2001) and the co-editor of Religion and International Law (Martinus Nijhoff, 1999) and Mixed Blessings: Laws, Religions and Women’s Rights (Martinus Nijhoff, 2006). She has also written numerous articles and chapters on religious freedom and human rights more generally. She is an internationally recognised expert on religious freedom and the relationship between law and religion and has spoken on these topics in the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China and Australia. She is currently completing a major research project on Parliaments and the Protection of Human Rights with Dr Simon Evans. This research is sponsored by the Australian Research Council. Carolyn held a position as a lecturer at Exeter College Oxford for two years. On her return to Australia in 2000 Carolyn was appointed to a Senior Fellowship and then Senior Lectureship at Melbourne University. She has taught in the areas of constitutional law, administrative law and international law.
Dr Julie Debeljak
Deputy Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
"Mission impossible: "Possible" interpretations under the Victorian Charter and their impact on parliamentary sovereignty and dialogue"
Abstract: This paper will explore the judicial interpretative obligation under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, with a particular focus on how this mechanism will (or will not) preserve parliamentary sovereignty and generate institutional dialogue, and how it will be balanced with the power of judicial declaration of inconsistent interpretation.
Bio: Julie Debeljak has been a lecturer with the Faculty of Law at Monash University since 2002. Previously, she was an Associate Lecturer with the faculty from 1996 – 2001. Julie has a particular interest in the field of human rights law and constitutional law, and in 2000 became a foundational Associate Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. She completed her doctorate in 2004 on comparative domestic human rights protection and has conducted numerous human rights training courses for Australian and overseas government officials. In 2001 Julie was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to undertake a summer institute about American constitutional law at Boston College, and was an intern with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1998.
Ms Paula Gerber
Deputy Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
"The 4th R: human rights education"
Abstract: School students are generally taught the three Rs - writing, reading and arithmetic. However, the 4th R - education about rights, is largely ignored. This is despite a significant body of international law mandating that children learn about human rights. Paula's paper will analyse the nature and extent of human rights education that students in Melbourne secondary schools are receiving, and make recommendations for reform.
Bio: Paula Gerber came to academia after 20 years in private practice, during which time she spent five years working as a solicitor in London and five years as an attorney in Los Angeles before settling in Melbourne where she became a partner at Maddocks. Prior to coming to Monash in 2004, Paula was at the University of Melbourne where she was Director of Studies, Construction Law in the Law School and a Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture Building & Planning. Paula is unusual in specialising in two completely unrelated areas, namely Construction Law and International Human Rights Law. Paula has lectured extensively in both areas, including teaching Human Rights Theory at the University of Prishtina in Kosovo. Paula has also researched and published extensively in both areas and is currently completing her PhD at the University of Melbourne. Her thesis examines the implementation of Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition to her academic career Paula also sits as a sessional member of Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal.