Regulating transparency on human rights and modern slavery in corporate supply chains: the discrepancy between human rights due diligence and the social audit
Author(s): Jolyon Ford
This article examines some of the limits of reporting schemes as a tool for addressing business-related human rights risks and for engaging business in a collaborative effort to improve human rights. Australia’s Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (MSA) is the latest example globally of a legislative scheme intended to foster corporate action on such risks within businesses’ operations and supply chains. Some such schemes require firms to implement human rights due diligence (HRDD) measures, as envisaged by the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. However, the MSA’s model is best described as a disclosure or reporting regime. Such regimes do not require businesses to take HRDD measures; rather, they only require businesses to report on any such measures that they have taken during the relevant reporting period. In this article, we analyse some of the assumptions underlying the design of reporting-based schemes. We then consider one practice used by firms facing supply chain scrutiny: social auditing. We caution against an over-reliance on this practice, which is not synonymous with HRDD. It does not necessarily promote fulsome, non-cosmetic reporting compliance or foster corporate action on underlying human rights risks. We finally offer some alternative approaches that could improve the effectiveness of measures to address human rights risks in supply chains.
Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy
Experiencing Asylum Appeals: 34 Ways to Improve Access to Justice at the First-tier Tribunal
Author(s): Jessica Hambly
There is ongoing concern that Britain’s courts are places that are overwhelming, disorientating and confusing for court users. Asylum seekers are some of the most marginalised people in society and existing research highlights the difficulties they face in disclosing evidence throughout the legal process. Without an accessible process, appellants may be unable or unwilling to speak and participate in their appeal, and therefore important pieces of evidence may not be considered and justice may not be served. Although a lot of attention has been paid to asylum law by academics and policy makers alike, its day to day implementation often escapes critical academic scrutiny. This is arguably because relatively few non-legal scholars study the law, meaning that most analysis is focussed on substantive and doctrinal legal issues rather than questions of process, implementation and experience. It is also extremely time consuming to observe a sufficient number of hearings to be able to draw general conclusions about day to day issues.
Our project adopts an inter-disciplinary perspective on the day to day workings of asylum law within the UK’s asylum appeal hearings. In the following sections we report on a project which examined what happens during asylum appeals by closely observing them from the public areas of hearing rooms. Our observations ran from 2013 to 2019. We complement the perspective our observations offer with interview evidence from appellants as well as others involved in the process.
Co-authors: Nick Gill, Jennifer Allsopp, Andrew Burridge, Daniel Fisher, Melanie Griffiths, Jessica Hambly, Jo Hynes, Natalia Paszkiewicz, Rebecca Rotter and Amanda Schmid-Scott.
The Multilateral Human Rights System: Systemic Challenge or Healthy Contestation?
Author(s): Jolyon Ford
This essay explores some of the parameters and merits of a putative argument that the announcement of June 19, 2018 that the United States would withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council might most properly be understood as but one manifestation of a wider political backlash within the US (and indeed other Western democracies) against the multilateral human rights system epitomized by the Council. There are two prongs to this argument. First, populist-nationalist political sentiment at home simultaneously fuels and is fanned by strident high-profile diplomatic critiques (or even rejections) of global bodies such as the Council. Second, the nature and force of this backlash constitutes a systemic threat to the future of the post-1945 rules-based international order, especially since it comes mostly from the superpower whose values-based rhetoric and leadership has perhaps done most to advance the global human rights agenda in the modern era.
Deliberative Constitutional Referendums in Deeply Divided Societies
Author(s): Ron Levy
If referendums are not carefully designed and conducted so as to promote moderation, they may undermine deliberation and hence undermine one of the necessary or principal conditions of their own success. Naturally, there is no suggestion here chat referendums can solve all the ills that deeply divided societies face or that democracy can be reduced to referendums. Yet, if skilfully and sensitively designed, they can play a crucial role, so long, that is, as ordinary people are made to feel that their views count for something in the process.
Backlash against a Rules-based International Human Rights Order? An Australian Perspective
Author(s): Jolyon Ford
This article engages with the question of whether we can identify a recent populist political ‘backlash’ within some Western democracies against the institutions, instruments and even the ideas of the multilateral (United Nations and treaty-based) human rights system. An associated question concerns what the implications of any such phenomenon might be for the universalist human rights system (or at least Australia’s participation therein), and perhaps the implications for the wider global legal order of which the human rights project has, for decades now, been such an important part. A second question-bundle is whether we can discern signs recently that Australia may be one of those ‘backlash’ states, and what systemic implications this may have for Australia’s oft-repeated fidelity to, and reliance upon, the international rules-based order. Sitting above or behind these questions is the broader issue of whether the concept of ‘backlash’ is useful at all in explaining or analysing recent developments, and/or what modifications or qualifiers it might need. This article attempts to address these questions, focussing first on exploring ways to approach, unpack refine or re-frame the ‘backlash’ concept. It then takes the resulting frame(s) to provide a general overview of recent Australian practice and rhetoric. This is so as to advance a useful characterisation of Australia’s conduct, even if it does not in a ‘Yes/No sense’ meet Sunstein’s definition of systemic-level ‘backlash’ intended to reject a legal order and remove its legal force.
Navigating the Backlash against Global Law and Institutions
This article considers the recent ‘Backlash’ against global norms and institutions fuelled by various contemporary political developments within and between states. Understanding the shape, significance and drivers of this phenomenon better is a pre-requisite to developing and analysing possible responses by Australia and other states. The recent rise of populism and ‘illiberal democracy’ especially within major Western democracies has challenged the longstanding and widespread commitment of those states to the rules-based order. These phenomena have also eroded the traditional global leadership, in multilateral forums, of key powers including UN permanent members the United States and the United Kingdom. The populations of these and other states have responded to perceptions of economic and political disempowerment by pressuring political representatives to focus their energies domestically. In order both to appeal and respond to domestic political forces, leaders in these states have sought to target or sometimes scapegoat the international institutions that have hitherto been so useful to their foreign policy agenda. This article examines the consequences of understanding the current populist moment as part of a Backlash against global law and institutions and the ramifications of the Backlash frame for international peace and security. It also considers the implications of the Backlash frame for the international human rights system, the impact of the turn inward for global trade and finance and the Backlash against environmental norms.
Towards the Uberisation of Legal Practice
Author(s): Margaret Thornton
Uber and Airbnb signify new ways of working and doing business by facilitating direct access to providers through new digitalised platforms. The gig economy is also beginning to percolate into legal practice through what is colloquially known as NewLaw. Eschewing plush offices, permanent staff and the rigidity of time billing, NewLaw offers cheaper services to clients to compete more effectively with traditional law firms. For individual lawyers, autonomy, flexibility, a balanced life, well-being and even happiness are the claimed benefits. The downside appears that NewLaw favours senior and experienced lawyers while disproportionately affecting recent graduates. This article draws on interviews with lawyers in Australian and English NewLaw firms to evaluate the pros and cons of NewLaw.
Elected Member Influence in the United Nations Security Council
Author(s): Jeremy Farrall
This article reassesses how members of the UN Security Council exercise influence over the Council’s decision-making process, with particular focus on the ten elected members (the ‘E10’). A common understanding of Security Council dynamics accords predominance to the five permanent members (the ‘P5’), suggesting bleak prospects for the Council as a forum that promotes the voices and representation of the 188 non-permanent members. The assumption is that real power rests with the P5, while the E10 are there to make up the numbers. By articulating a richer account of Council dynamics, this article contests the conventional wisdom that P5 centrality crowds out space for the E10 to influence Council decision-making. It also shows that opportunities for influencing Council decision-making go beyond stints of elected membership. It argues that the assumed centrality of the P5 on the Council thus needs to be qualified and re-evaluated.
The Feminist Fandango with the Legal Academy
Author(s): Margaret Thornton
This chapter argues that the fortunes of feminism in the Australian legal academy are closely intertwined with the prevailing political ideology. Social liberalism, with its commitment to egalitarianism, a robust civil society and a modicum of tolerance for the Other coincided with the flowering of second wave feminism. This led to the appointment of feminist academics in law schools and the incorporation of feminist perspectives into their teaching. In contrast, neoliberalism, with its aggressive entrepreneurialism and promotion of the self, encouraged sloughing off a commitment to feminist values. Taking its cue from neoliberalism and reacting against the second wave, postfeminism initially also resulted in a depoliticisation and a turning away from collective action, but signs of a revived feminism caused neoliberalism to move in quickly and colonise it. Mirroring the values of neoliberalism, this incarnation of postfeminism, which one might term ‘neoliberal feminism’, encouraged entrepreneurialism and productivity, particularly on the part of upwardly mobile individual women. It also resonated with the neoliberal law school where students were anxious to secure a position on the corporate track in light of mounting tuition debts and increased competition. More recently, there has been a reaction against neoliberalism which has, once again, brought with it a revived incarnation of feminism and a progressive understanding of the ‘post’.
The fandango in the title carries with it not only the idea of different movements, but also variations in tempo, and even a change of partners. The metaphor is designed to encapsulate the character of the dance between the prevailing political ideology and feminism, and the way that it is reflected in the legal academy. The fandango also refers to the more fluid relationship between feminism and its ‘post’. With postfeminism, we see a constellation of performers, some moving backwards and others forward, often at the same time, which highlights its ambiguity and elusiveness. In adopting a temporal trajectory, this chapter seeks to problematise the ‘post’ in postfeminism, underscoring how it may be simultaneously both reactive and progressive according to the constellation of values that prevail at a particular moment in time.
Destination Australia: Journeys of the Moribund
Author(s): Kate Ogg
Australia sends many of those who come in search of refuge to regional processing centers in Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Most of these asylum seekers and refugees want to continue their journey to Australia but the Australian Government has vowed that none will be given protection in Australian territory. However, there have been recent developments in the Federal Parliament and Federal Court that have paved the way for certain asylum seekers and refugees in Nauru and Manus Island to come to Australia. In this chapter, I investigate these legislative and judicial developments and argue that they indicate that the place of human rights and international law is becoming increasingly peripheral in Australia’s refugee law and policy and instead transfers to Australia have become medicalized. Australia’s parliamentarians and courts have moved to protect asylum seekers’ physical and mental health but not the rights flowing to them as people, children, and refugees. Asylum seekers and refugees must be moribund before they can use legal processes to transfer to Australia and they come as sick people in need of medical care—not as bearers of legal rights. These developments hamper larger efforts to end or fundamentally reform Australia’s offshore processing regime.
New Directions in Article 1D Jurisprudence: Greater Barriers for Palestinian Refugees Seeking the Benefits of the Refugee Convention
Author(s): Kate Ogg
This chapter investigates new issues that have arisen in relation to article 1D of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention), resulting from decisions by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal (NZIPT). These judgments break away from earlier article 1D jurisprudence but there has been little analysis of the alternative approaches adopted. In theory, these precedents provide greater opportunities for Palestinian refugees to obtain the benefits of the Refugee Convention but in fact threaten the principle of continuity of international protection for Palestinian refugees. This is because the judgments adopt a skewed and narrow understanding of the meaning of ‘protection or assistance’ in article 1D and impose an evidentiary paradox by necessitating that Palestinian refugees prove that their decision to flee was involuntary. Further, the CJEU’s approach favours those who have heroic or intrepid narratives and this can serve to disadvantage Palestinian women and girls. Consequently, these decisions create additional and often-insurmountable barriers to Palestinian refugees seeking the benefits of the Refugee Convention not supported by article 1D’s ordinary meaning or the Refugee Convention’s object and purpose.
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.
Overcoming the Invisible Hurdles to Justice for Young People the Final Research and Evaluation Report of the Invisible Hurdles Project: Integrated Justice Practice - Towards Better Outcomes for Young People Experiencing Family Violence in North East Victo
Author(s): Elizabeth Curran
The three-year “Invisible Hurdles Project” was trialled in southern NSW and northern Victoria and successfully broke down intractable mistrust of lawyers and provided legal help to people who usually can’t be reached.
The pilot saw lawyers embed themselves into youth, health and other services reaching 101 people with 198 legal matters which may not have come to light otherwise.
Associate Professor Liz Curran, led the research and evaluation of the project with Pamela Taylor-Barnett assisting - both of ANU School of Legal Practice.
The pilot saw the Hume Riverina Community Legal Service (HRCLS) provided lawyers free of charge who embedded themselves into three partner organisations: The Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS), a school for vulnerable young people, Wodonga Flexible Learning Centre and North East Support and Action for Youth (NESAY).
The report makes many findings and recommendations including The data revealed that non-legal staff responding to clients were also initially distrustful of the lawyers, but now find them a responsive ally which has boosted their capacity to respond effectively. It’s had the knock-on effect of reducing stress and anxiety in themselves and their clients. It can inform other models, policy and funding frameworks as well as future service delivery in multi-disciplinary practices including, health justice partnerships.
Introduction: Fusion and Creation
Author(s): Ron Levy
Deliberative democratic theory emphasises the importance of informed and reflective discussion and persuasion in political decision-making. The theory has important implications for constitutionalism - and vice versa - as constitutional laws increasingly shape and constrain political decisions. The full range of these implications has not been explored in the political and constitutional literatures to date. This unique Handbook establishes the parameters of the field of deliberative constitutionalism, which bridges deliberative democracy with constitutional theory and practice. Drawing on contributions from world-leading authors, this volume serves as the international reference point on deliberation as a foundational value in constitutional law, and is an indispensable resource for scholars, students and practitioners interested in the vital and complex links between democratic deliberation and constitutionalism.
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and the Hazards of Being the Nexus between Global and Local: A Case Study of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) in the Maelstrom of Public Controversy
Author(s): Jonathan Liljeblad
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), as set forth in the 1993 Paris Principles, are expected to be independent bodies that promote and monitor state implementation of international human rights standards. In such a role, an individual NHRI bridges the gap between “international human rights obligations and actual enjoyment of human rights on the ground” and thereby operates as a nexus between a global human rights system and local conditions. A location at the nexus has the potential to offer opportunities to exercise powers as an intermediary on behalf of human rights in terms of enabling engagement between global and local levels. The analysis, however, draws upon the experiences of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) to assert that there are limits for institutions at the nexus between global and local. Using a public controversy from 2016 that questioned the legitimacy of the MNHRC and threatened its existence as an NHRI, the analysis seeks to improve understanding of the risks facing NHRIs and add insight into the ways contextual politics challenge expectations for NHRIs to operate as human rights intermediaries.
Beyond Transnational Advocacy: Lessons from Engagement of Myanmar Indigenous Peoples with the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review
Author(s): Jonathan Liljeblad
On July 21, 2015, the Coalition of Indigenous Peoples in Myanmar/Burma (CIPM), a group representing 24 indigenous rights organizations in Myanmar, announced they were submitting a report to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session on Myanmar. The use of the UPR represents an attempt by Myanmar’s indigenous groups to address a variety of issues not traditionally associated with human rights, among them: environmental grievances associated with alleged government seizure of land, deforestation, pollution, and suppression of land-use rights.
The use of the UPR also illustrates an indigenous strategy of reaching up to an international level in order to address problems at a local one: the CIPM resorted to the UPR in hopes of mobilizing pressure to change the behavior of the Myanmar government. This article explores the experiences of the CIPM with the UPR to draw lessons for other groups that seek to use the UPR to advance their interests.
Social Status: The Last Bastion of Discrimination
Author(s): Margaret Thornton
Despite the increasing inequality between rich and poor, there is resistance towards proscribing discrimination on the basis of socioeconomic status. This resistance is marked in Anglophone countries, namely, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, the US and South Africa, countries that are located in the high inequality/low mobility extreme in terms of socioeconomic status. This article argues that the resistance is associated with the embrace of neoliberalism, a political value system that extols the free market, individualism and profit maximisation. The commitment to competition policy necessarily produces inequality in contradistinction to equality, which informs the philosophical underpinnings of anti-discrimination legislation. Even in the comparatively few jurisdictions where legislation on the basis of social status or a cognate attribute exists, the legislative model is restrictive and the number of complaints minuscule. Most notably, an overview of the Anglophone countries reveals that there is a dearth of complaints involving national and multinational corporations, the primary wealth creators of the neoliberal state that are also major employers. Although employment generally gives rise to the preponderance of discrimination complaints on grounds such as race and sex, it is suggested that the resistance to social status discrimination serves to protect private corporations from scrutiny.
Designing Referendums for Peacemaking: The Case of Bougainville
The use of referendums in conflict societies has increased significantly in recent decades. A planned referendum in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, is a current example. Referendums potentially help a conflict society to progress towards a peaceful resolution of its conflict even in the face of entrenched opposition by certain elites. And, because they can enjoy broad social perceptions of democratic legitimacy, referendums may also help to ensure against subsequent breach of any settlement reached. Yet, in practice referendums have not always been beneficial. Little institutional effort has gone toward improving the popular discourse leading up to the final vote. Standard referendum campaigns often merely amplify the voices of contending and entrenched political parties and elites. In a conflict society, where social polarization is pronounced, referendums thus risk aggravating, rather than ameliorating, tensions.
Research in deliberative democracy - with its concern for channeling disagreement into reasoned forms of persuasion - has yielded insights relevant to resolving violent inter-communal conflict. In this article we suggest the use of a specially-designed ‘deliberative referendum’ in Bougainville. Such a referendum may improve the conflicting parties' prospects of reaching common ground. Even a marginal improvement in the referendum’s deliberative quality may help to reconstruct the referendum from a potential destabilizing factor to a more effective peace-building tool. Yet, while we explore how a deliberative referendum might help to impel the Bougainville peace process toward successful resolution, we also consider the referendum’s hazards.
Oral History, Gender and Law
Author(s): Kim Rubenstein
This article considers the relationship between law and gender by sharing information about an oral history project analysing the experience of women lawyers in the public, civic space and women’s experience of lawyering in Australia and of Australian lawyers working in the international context.
Shotgun Referendums: Popular Deliberation and Constitutional Settlement in Conflict Societies
Author(s): Ron Levy
Referendums are now common in ‘conflict societies’ — societies where widespread armed engagement recently occurred, is occurring or is liable to occur. If well designed, a referendum might improve the prospects of achieving a conflict settlement. The referendum’s relative democratic legitimacy may also help to ensure against subsequent breach, once a settlement is reached. However, in practice the utility of referendums for conflict settlement has been inconsistent. Some past referendums faltered (e.g. a ‘no’ vote delayed settlement) as a result of neglect of careful institutional design. In particular, a number of past referendums proceeded as simple majoritarian exercises with little in the way of support for voters’ deliberation about issues at stake. By contrast, a handful of authors have described ‘Deliberative Referendums’ purpose-designed to generate more rational and informed referendum campaigns. Nearly all past work on Deliberative Referendums has focused on peaceful societies. Building on this past work, the present article introduces the term ‘Shotgun Referendum’ to refer to a Deliberative Referendum held under conditions of ongoing or apprehended violence. The article explains why such a referendum might incrementally improve the prospects for conflict settlement. It proposes the use of deliberative design features — some novel, others well known — and places these within a distinctive frame drawing on constitutional and deliberative theory. The article thus serves as a scoping study of the aspirations and boundaries of Shotgun Referendums. This can offer more careful direction when, as seems inevitable, in future more conflict societies hold referendums.