Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

Martyrdom, Antinomianism, and the Prioritising of Christians - Towards a Political Theology of Refugee Resettlement

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

This article considers the approaches taken in the United States (US) and Australia to prioritising the resettlement of Christians from Syria and Iraq. Focusing first upon respective models and the immediate political factors that lead to their adoption, it analyses in depth the specific role played by the evangelical constituency in the US, and their theologically-infused concern for the “persecuted church” in “enslaved” lands. Recognising this movement enjoys less influence in Australia, the article considers the ways in which Australia’s resettlement policies and political narratives have nonetheless increasingly participated in tropes familiar to classical antinomian political theology, not least that resettlement is tied to a redemptive generosity of the State that works to denigrate and undermine the legal obligations demanded by those who arrive irregularly by boat. The article also critiques the use of “vulnerability” as a touchstone principle for the fair allocation of scarce resettlement places, and its propensity to be used for cherry-picking purposes. Finally, as part of the argument that resettlement is susceptible to being used as a vehicle for those motivated by more explicit theological concerns, the article explores the leveraging for political, redemptive, and eschatological purposes of images and narratives of the “martyred” middle-eastern Christian.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

New Directors for Law in Australia

New Directions for Law in Australia

Editor(s): Ron Levy, Molly Townes O'Brien, Pauline Ridge, Margaret Thornton

For reasons of effectiveness, efficiency and equity, Australian law reform should be planned carefully. Academics can and should take the lead in this process. This book collects over 50 discrete law reform recommendations, encapsulated in short, digestible essays written by leading Australian scholars. It emerges from a major conference held at The Australian National University in 2016, which featured intensive discussion among participants from government, practice and the academy. The book is intended to serve as a national focal point for Australian legal innovation. It is divided into six main parts: commercial and corporate law, criminal law and evidence, environmental law, private law, public law, and legal practice and legal education. In addition, Indigenous perspectives on law reform are embedded throughout each part. This collective work—the first of its kind—will be of value to policy makers, media, law reform agencies, academics, practitioners and the judiciary. It provides a bird’s eye view of the current state and the future of law reform in Australia.

Free download or order a printed copy

Centre: LRSJ, PEARL

Research theme: Law and Social Justice

Administrative Decision-Making in Australian Migration Law

Administrative Decision-Making in Australian Migration Law

Editor(s):

The ANU College of Law, Migration Law Program is pleased to introduce a text in administrative decision-making in Australian migration law. Over the past eight years we have assembled a team of some of Australia’s most highly qualified migration agents and migration law specialists to deliver the Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law & Practice, and the Master of Laws in Migration Law.

Alan Freckelton has worked with the Migration Law Program since 2008. Through personal recollections and a comprehensive analysis of administrative decision-making, he brings his professional expertise and experience in this complex field of law to the fore. The examination of High Court decisions, parliamentary speeches and public opinion bring a contentious area of law and policy to life, enabling the reader to consider the impact that legislation and decision-making has upon the individual and society as a whole.

Free download or order a printed copy

Centre: CIPL, CMSL, LRSJ, PEARL

Research theme: Migration and Movement of Peoples

Adventures in the Grey Zone: Constitutionalism, Rights and the Review of Executive Power in the Migration Context

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

The physical and legal isolation of the irregularly arriving non-citizen in Australia is a product of various legal strategies, from legislation mandating detention to the experimental 'excision' of parts of the country from the operation of statute and the scrutiny of the courts. Australia's innovative use of legislation to carve out spaces within which an unencumbered sovereign executive power can expand has unsurprisingly seen commentators turn to cosmological metaphors. This chapter builds upon David Dyzhenhaus' nuanced description of these spaces as 'grey holes' where the impression of legality is created by legislative and judicial endorsement of strategies which exclude meaningful judicial review of executive conduct. By reference to five recent cases in which these strategies were challenged, it explores the curious attempt to use the law in order to suspend the law, the changeable role of the judiciary in both consolidating and piercing these legislatively carved exclusionary zones, and the muscular anti-dialogic reassertion of legislative dominance that invariably accompanies perceived judicial interference. The chapter's principal aim is to use these case studies to map out the current state of both constitutional doctrine and institutional relations with respect to the rights of non-citizens in the exercise of executive power in Australia. It contrasts the notorious rights reluctance of the Australian political system and its culture of deference and trust in the executive with the impressive architecture of administrative justice developed over the past three decades, and considers the tension that surrounds contemporary appeals to 'sovereignty' as source of power, as well as the contentious role played by traditional legalism as both a shield and a sword in the court's juridical arsenal for scrutinizing rights-precluding executive conduct.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Recognition and Narrative Identities: The Legal Creation, Alienation and Liberation of the Refugee

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

That a refugee often has a transformative experience in their encounter with a status determination regime is uncontentious. The practical need for legal recognition of a pre-existing status for the purpose of protection marries with a very personal need for recognition of one’s experience. The granting or withholding of either type of recognition has consequences for the various identities created in the process. Both depend upon the story told, and the manner of its reception.

This paper arose initially out of my own anecdotal experience as a legal representative for refugees over many years. It found its genesis in reflections on the role I played in helping shape the story that would be told to administrative decisions makers by my clients, and my growing concern that I was complicit in a process of legal institutionalisation, distortion and even alienation of something ‘authentic’ in the refugee experience and identity. As will become apparent, I am no longer so damning of my role and that of my fellow lawyers and decision-makers, or indeed of the ‘regulative discourse’ imposed by refugee law itself. The refugee has more agency than perhaps appears at first blush. I am also more questioning of my own original assumptions about authenticity, categorisation and recognition.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

'I am the Law'! – Perspectives of Legality and Illegality in the Israeli Army

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

The language of morality and legality infuses every aspect of the Middle East conflict. From repeated assertions by officials that Israel has "the most moral army in the world" to justifications for specific military tactics and operations by reference to self-defence and proportionality, the public rhetoric is one of legal right and moral obligation. Less often heard are the voices of those on the ground whose daily experience is lived within the legal quagmire portrayed by their leaders in such uncompromising terms. This Article explores the opaque normative boundaries surrounding the actions of a specific group within the Israeli military, soldiers returning from duty in Hebron in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. By examining interviews with these soldiers by an Israeli NGO, it identifies different narratives of legality and illegality which inform their conduct, contrasting their failure to adhere to conventional legal discourses with the broader "legalisation" of military activities. Seeking an explanation for this disjunction, it explores the ways in which the soldiers' stories nonetheless reflect attempts to negotiate various normative and legal realities. It places these within the legal landscape of the Occupied Palestinian Territories which has been normatively re-imagined by various forces in Israeli society, from the judicially-endorsed discourse of deterrence manifested in the day-to-day practices of brutality, intimidation and "demonstrating power", to the growing influence of nationalist-religious interpretations of self-defence and the misuse of post-modernist theory by the military establishment to "smooth out" the moral and legal urban architectures of occupation. The Article concludes by considering the hope for change evident in the very act of soldiers telling ethically-oriented stories about their selves, and in the existence of a movement willing to provide the space for such reflections in an attempt to confront Israeli society with the day-to-day experiences of the soldier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Elementary Considerations of Humanity

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

International law has long been infused with a vague commitment towards an indeterminate notion of humanity. An examination of humanity as a specific normative idea in the historical discourse of international law provides a platform for better understanding the rhetorical and substantive meaning of ‘elementary considerations of humanity’ in the seminal Corfu Channel case, as well as Judge Alverez’s use of the more affective (and perhaps honest) term ‘sentiments of humanity’ in his separate opinion. With the Court otherwise silent as to the content, scope and status of the principle, such background informs the judicial attitudinal stance taken towards this apparently ‘self-evident’ principle, as well as the values which the Court and other international tribunals would subsequently bring to their norm creation and enforcement roles, not least with respect to general principles as a source of law. Drawing upon the work of Koskenniemi and the analyses of the Martens clause by scholars such as Meron and Cassese, the chapter places particular emphasis on the political, normative and empathetic potential of the term, and its inherent relationship to a foundational, essentialist and idealistic notion of humanity which continues to gain strength in the discipline.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Recognition and Narrative Identities: The Legal Creation, Alienation and Liberation of the Refugee

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

That a refugee often has a transformative experience in their encounter with a status determination regime is uncontentious. The practical need for legal recognition of a pre-existing status for the purpose of protection marries with a very personal need for recognition of one’s experience. The granting or withholding of either type of recognition has consequences for the various identities created in the process. Both depend upon the story told, and the manner of its reception.

This paper arose initially out of my own anecdotal experience as a legal representative for refugees over many years. It found its genesis in reflections on the role I played in helping shape the story that would be told to administrative decisions makers by my clients, and my growing concern that I was complicit in a process of legal institutionalisation, distortion and even alienation of something ‘authentic’ in the refugee experience and identity. As will become apparent, I am no longer so damning of my role and that of my fellow lawyers and decision-makers, or indeed of the ‘regulative discourse’ imposed by refugee law itself. The refugee has more agency than perhaps appears at first blush. I am also more questioning of my own original assumptions about authenticity, categorisation and recognition.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

England and the Rediscovery of Constitutional Faith

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

England is currently experiencing a widely recognised constitutional renaissance, with traditional English ‘liberties’ at its core: historic rights and liberty-affirming documents of the past are cited by counsel and judge alike, the Prime Minister waxes lyrical about constitutional values which define the British nation, scholars call for the revival of a purported rights-centric common law constitution, and a new breed of media-star historians are rediscovering English liberties in political institutions and re-imagined constitutional moments. Even the mythology of Magna Carta is resurfacing in the popular imagination, the date of its signing selected by public poll as ‘the best date to celebrate Britishness’.

The rhetoric contrasts with the dominant popular trope for much of the twentieth century, which portrayed the English constitution as essentially clever politics. Today’s constitutional veneration, however, has a long and complex history. This paper charts the variety of constitutional veneration that arose in the post-reformation period, as well as its decline, and contemporary revival. Starting with an overview of the seventeenth century, it charts the emergence of a constitutional language arising out of the rich theological and philosophical tradition of the age, and the persuasive use by the principal judicial figures of the day of new forms of historiography, traditional natural law philosophy, and emerging ethnic nationalism. Underpinned by contended notions of liberty and religiosity, this potent mix ensured that the newly minted English constitution enjoyed a quasi-religious status, embracing divinely ordained values and institutional arrangements that at once defined what it was to be both English and Protestant, and therefore was worthy of veneration. The decline of this constitutional model in the 19th and 20th century is then considered against the backdrop of empiricism, utilitarianism, nationalism and the victory of a political understanding of the constitutional model. The purported disappearance of the ‘legal’ constitution in this period, however, was never to be consolidated, nor were the contradictions inherent in the new ‘sovereignist’ model reconcilable with the explosion of rights jurisprudence in the latter part of the twentieth century. The article therefore concludes with a brief overview of the re-emergence of the language of constitutional faith in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, and the renewed reliance on this rhetoric of constitutional veneration by the judicial branch of government in an attempt to influence the development of a normative English constitutional and national identity.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Judicial Rhetoric and Constitutional Identity: Comparative Approaches to Aliens' Rights in the United Kingdom and Australia

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

A comparison between the judicial reasoning adopted by the House of Lords in Belmarsh and Torture Evidence cases, and the High Court of Australia's administrative detention cases (especially Al-Kateb) reveals stark differences in the approach to common law rights, judicial reasoning, and constitutional rhetoric. Using the language of historically-based identity-informing constitutional values, their Lordships' speeches can be seen as exercises in public and political persuasion, made within the idiom of constitutional veneration which is enjoying a renaissance in the UK. This emerging judicial rhetoric combines an appeal to a mythologised constitutional past with an emphasis on the quintessentially 'British' nature of the rights at stake to consolidate both the constitutional status of the 'principle of legality' and an inclusive notion of 'equality'. By contrast, the High Court's majority decisions are virtually devoid of the language of values, and are silent on the nature or status of the rights which Parliament was impliedly abrogating. The decisions are instead shrouded in the equally powerful rhetoric of strict legalism. Behind this purportedly valueless methodology, however, their Honours' decisions reveal attitudes towards aliens as 'illegal,' 'unlawful' and 'unwanted' rather than rights-bearers, and a judicial deference to Parliament to 'protect' an undefined Australian community. The arrival of French CJ to the helm of the High Court might see a reinvigoration of common law rights via the principle of legality.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Judicial Rhetoric and Constitutional Identity: Comparative Approaches to Aliens' Rights in the United Kingdom and Australia

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

A comparison between the judicial reasoning adopted by the House of Lords in Belmarsh and Torture Evidence cases, and the High Court of Australia's administrative detention cases (especially Al-Kateb) reveals stark differences in the approach to common law rights, judicial reasoning, and constitutional rhetoric. Using the language of historically-based identity-informing constitutional values, their Lordships' speeches can be seen as exercises in public and political persuasion, made within the idiom of constitutional veneration which is enjoying a renaissance in the UK. This emerging judicial rhetoric combines an appeal to a mythologised constitutional past with an emphasis on the quintessentially 'British' nature of the rights at stake to consolidate both the constitutional status of the 'principle of legality' and an inclusive notion of 'equality'. By contrast, the High Court's majority decisions are virtually devoid of the language of values, and are silent on the nature or status of the rights which Parliament was impliedly abrogating. The decisions are instead shrouded in the equally powerful rhetoric of strict legalism. Behind this purportedly valueless methodology, however, their Honours' decisions reveal attitudes towards aliens as 'illegal,' 'unlawful' and 'unwanted' rather than rights-bearers, and a judicial deference to Parliament to 'protect' an undefined Australian community. The arrival of French CJ to the helm of the High Court might see a reinvigoration of common law rights via the principle of legality.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Uncertainty and Exclusion: Detention of Aliens and the High Court

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

In a series of judgments in late 2004, the High Court found that the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) unambiguously provides for the indefinite detention of unlawful non-citizens, and that such a law is constitutionally valid. The cases are significant not only for reflecting different approaches to statutory construction, the aliens power and the potential protections offered by Ch III - the manifest issues before the Court - but for the broader perspectives of Australia's constitutional arrangements and the control of public power. With specific reference to the judgments in Al-Kateb and Re Woolley, this paper argues that the majority were inherently informed by a largely unstated assumption about the Court's constitutional role that relies upon an unprecedented deference to the other branches of government, as well as an attitude towards aliens as a category - reflected in the rhetoric of control, exclusion and unlawfulness - that echoes a regrettable part of Australia's constitutional inheritance. By neglecting to state or address these assumptions upfront, and by failing to present a coherent test to stand in the stead of the protection which earlier case law had promised, the majority's reasoning loses both its moral authority and legal coherency.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

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