human rights news & views

Bosnian Serbs face trial for Srebrenica genocide

Eleven years after Europe’s largest mass murder since World War Two, there is the prospect of justice for the victims and survivors of the massacre of over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the UN ‘safe haven’ in Srebrenica. The trial of seven former Bosnian Serb officers began last month at the International Criminal Tribunal for the […]

War propaganda: a forgotten rights violation

You may be unwittingly suffering an infringement of your human rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), drafted during the Cold War, states that "any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law." The 152 countries that are a party to this treaty must legislate against war propaganda as "contrary to public […]

‘A great day for persons with disabilities’

They did it. Negotiations of the UN ad hoc committee concluded successfully late on Friday with an agreed text to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention will be presented for adoption by the General Assembly in September. Says Committee Chair Don MacKay: “This marks a great day for the UN […]

Housing crisis in Australia: UN

Indian architect Miloon Kothari has been UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing since 2000. He has just concluded a visit to Australia to assess compliance with human rights obligations in relation to housing. Since ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976, Australia has been obliged to fulfil […]

First human rights treaty for the 21st century?

After 5 years of negotiations, there’s a race to find agreement among the UN’s 192 member nations on a treaty to  protect explicitly the rights of people with disabilities in time to have it adopted at the next meeting of the General Assembly in September. Writes the UN’s Thomas Schindlmayr, who suffered a permanent spinal […]

War criminals in business suits

Business suits or pantyhose. Former British PM Margaret Thatcher is said to consult her lawyers before travelling abroad for fear of being arrested for international crimes (for ordering the sinking of Argentine warship the General Belgrano as it sailed away from the conflict during the Falklands/Malvinas War in 1982, at the expense of 323 lives). […]

Demand justice for Hicks

I heard David Hicks’ defence lawyer, the affable Major Michael (Dan) Mori, speak in Melbourne today and (updating a previous post) he mentioned that Hicks’ British citizenship was revoked shortly after it was granted. Mori is pressing to have it restored. Mori emphasised the importance, in so politicised a case, of the Australian public (and […]

Innocents in jeopardy

There’s a venerable principle of criminal law that seems to be turning on its head in Western democracies, and a number of human rights along with it. The principal begins with an acceptance of the fact that no system of criminal justice will ever be inerrant. There will always be wrongful convictions and wrongful acquittals. […]

Afghan girls kick goals while Australia fouls refugees

A friend of mine has sent me some good news about girls in Afghanistan: they are for the first time playing competitive football in Kabul, at the Ministry of Defence sports field, no less. Presenting a trophy to the Maiwand team, the UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ameerah Haq, noted that five years ago, […]

Israeli exceptionalism

Dr Andrew Vincent, Director of the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney said recently after a trip to Lebanon: "What we’re seeing at the moment is a massive attack on a neigbouring country. Now just imagine if an Arab country was attacking another Arab country: destroying its infrastructure, […]