Twenty-fourth Geoffrey Sawer Lecture: Human Rights: Beyond Tragedies and Atrocities

Date & time
5.30–7pm Tuesday 13 December 2022

ANU College of Law Moot Court, 6A Fellows Road, Acton

Philip Alston AO
ANU Law - Marketing

Presented by Centre for International and Public Law

Public lecture

Part of the Annual Geoffrey Sawer Lecture series

Philip Alston

Human Rights: Beyond Tragedies and Atrocities

The tragic and the atrocious have come to define our understanding of human rights and especially the system that has been designed to promote human rights and exact accountability. The result is itself a tragedy because it distorts the institutional responses, consumes most of the available institutional and other resources, distracts attention away from issues that should be seen to be at least as troubling and urgent, and leaves in its wake an impoverished notion of human rights. It is not by accident that we have gone down this path, and it will only be through an honest diagnosis and a determination to do things very differently in the future that the international human rights regime will start to provide answers to the most pressing problems of our time and be capable of mobilizing the political base that is an indispensable element of a successful regime.


  • Philip Alston AO »

    Philip Alston

    Philip Alston teaches at New York University Law School. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (2014-20) and on extrajudicial executions (2004-10), as well as the Chair of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1991-98).


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