National Security and Counterterrorism Laws
Author(s): James Renwick
The relationship between national security and the law is often under strain. The past 20 years have seen many Commonwealth laws passed in quick response to counterterrorism attacks, and more recently, acts of foreign interference and espionage. This article explains the scope of this special edition while reflecting on the challenges facing each branch of government, and law-reform, in this increasingly important area of the law.
Living with Myanmar
Author(s): Jonathan Liljeblad
Since 2011 Myanmar has experienced many changes to its social, political and economic landscape. The formation of a new government in 2016, led by the National League for Democracy, was a crucially important milestone in the country’s transition to a more inclusive form of governance. And yet, for many people everyday struggles remain unchanged, and have often worsened in recent years. Key economic, social and political reforms are stalled, conflict persists and longstanding issues of citizenship and belonging remain.
The wide-ranging, myriad and multiple challenges of Living with Myanmar is the subject of this volume. Following the Myanmar Update series tradition, each of the authors offers a different perspective on the sociopolitical and economic mutations occurring in the country and the challenges that still remain. The book is divided into six sections and covers critical issues ranging from gender equality and identity politics, to agrarian reform and the representative role of parliament. Collectively, these voices raise key questions concerning the institutional legacies of military rule and their ongoing role in subverting the country’s reform process. However, they also offer insights into the creative and productive ways that Myanmar’s activists, civil society, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and everyday people attempt to engage with and reform those legacies.
Research theme: Law, Governance and Development
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.
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 Future of Australia's Federal Renewable Energy Law
Author(s): James Prest
This article presents a critical analysis of Australia's federal renewable energy law. Its operation as a system of tradeable renewable energy certificates is briefly explained, before an analysis of the future of the Renewable Energy Target beyond 2020 is undertaken. The implications of the Federal Government's recently abandoned National Energy Guarantee and the subsequent decision no to expand or extend the Renewable Energy Target are discussed. The article presents an international comparison which demonstrates that Australia's national support for renewable energy is unambitious in relative terms. It argues that in several respects, Australian federal renewable energy is unambitious in relative terms. It argues that in several respects, Australian federal renewable energy law must be extended to address important issues that are presently receiving little legislative or political attention.
Australian Renewable Energy Law: Carbon Lock-In or Clean Energy Transition? The Pursuit of Policy Stability and Energy Security at Higher Levels of Renewable Generation
Author(s): James Prest
This article critically analyses recent developments in Australia’s renewable energy law and policy. It identifies seven retrograde steps taken in energy and climate law in Australia in the last five years. Barriers to clean energy law - in the form of recurring narratives employed against the rise of renewable energy across Australia - are examined. Increased levels of renewable energy are portrayed by opponents as a threat to the security and reliability of electricity supply. Yet, the nation is currently experiencing a major renewable energy investment boom, supported by regional policy initiatives that are driving innovation, most recently in energy storage.
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.
Two Steps Forward One Step Back: The Non-Linear Expansion of Judicial Power in Pakistan
Author(s): Moeen Cheema
Pakistan’s superior courts have evolved from marginal state institutions to key players mediating the balance of powers in a deeply divided and politically fragmented polity during seven decades of the country’s postcolonial history. Although the political salience of the Supreme Court’s recent actions — including the disqualification of two elected prime ministers — has created the sense of a sudden and ahistorical judicialization of politics, the courts’ prominent role in adjudicating issues of governance and statecraft was long in the making. The perception of an historically docile and subservient court which has suddenly become activist has been shaped by an undue focus on the big constitutional moments of regime or governmental change in which the Apex Court has more often than not sided with the military or military-backed presidency. While these constitutional cases and crises are important, an exclusive focus on this domain of judicial action hides the more significant and consistent developments that have taken place in the sphere of “administrative law.” It is through the consistent development of the judicial review of administrative action, even under military rule, that Pakistan’s superior courts progressively carved an expansive institutional role for themselves. This article highlights the progressive, though non-linear, expansion of judicial power in Pakistan and argues that despite some notable and highly contentious moments of judicial interference in mega politics, the bedrock of judicial review has remained in administrative law — i.e., the judicial review of executive action.
Pakistan: The State of Liberal Democracy
Author(s): Moeen Cheema
2017 was the year of the Panama case. That one case overshadowed all the business in the Apex Court and has shaped public perception of the Court’s role. Just as in the previous electoral cycle, the Supreme Court has disqualified and dismissed a prime minister from office in the year leading up to the messy business of elections. Just as during the tenure of former Chief Justice Chaudhry, the Court has ended up in an overt tussle with a government that is determined to present itself as a victim of a “judicial coup.” The disqualification of the head of the largest political party in Pakistan in the run-up to an election has also raised anxieties about of a political court acting in collusion with the country’s powerful military intent on destabilizing the transitional democratic system.
The Panama case marks the Court’s return to the center of the political stage after a brief hiatus, a position it seems likely to occupy in the foreseeable future. The Supreme Court’s political role is not a recent development. Over the last three decades, the Supreme Court has evolved from a peripheral state institution to a key player mediating the balance of powers in a deeply divided and politically fragmented polity. However, the Court’s exercise of its judicial review jurisdiction appears to be “promiscuous” rather than principled. Despite the larger claims, the superior courts appear to have become “institutions of governance” and judicial review the mode of a “delicate and political process of balancing competing values and political aspirations” . . . providing “a workable modus vivendi” which in turn enables the courts to claim a seat at the table of high politics.
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.
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.
Women Judges, Private Lives: (In)Visibilities in Fact and Fiction
Once unseen, women are now visible in increasing proportions on the bench in common law courts, although this reality has generally not percolated into fictional worlds, where ‘the judge’ is invariably male. Fiona, cast by Ian McEwan as the protagonist, in The Children Act, is a notable exception. In the novel, McEwan directs our gaze beyond the traditional separation of judicial identity into public/private (visible/invisible) facets of life and raises questions regarding the impact of life on law, and law on life. This article draws on McEwan’s work to illuminate a study of how judicial swearing-in ceremonies tell the stories of Australian women judges. At first glance, this may seem an unusual pairing: The Children Act is an international best-selling work of fiction whereas the official records of court ceremonial sittings are a somewhat obscure body of work largely overlooked by scholars. However, the speeches made in welcome in open court on these occasions by members of the legal profession and by the new judge in reply, offer glimpses of the attributes of women judges not discernible in formal judgments. These ‘minor jurisprudences’ challenge the familiar gendered stereotypes found in the sovereign body of law.
Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Law, Governance and Development, Legal Education, Legal History and Ethnology, Private Law, The Legal Profession
Defining 'Supply Chain' for Reporting Under a Modern Slavery Act for Australia
Author(s): Jolyon Ford
Australia proposed a Modern Slavery Act based on the UK's 2015 model, requiring larger firms to report annually on steps taken to address the risk of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. This working paper has two main arguments. First, the approach to defining (or not) ‘supply chain’ is not a mere technical drafting issue, but instead can be seen as going to the overall purpose of this regulation and as a metaphor for more general design philosophies or approaches in this sphere. Second, an Australian statute should refrain from any attempt at a statutory definition of ‘supply chains’ or any definition in ancillary regulations; however, authorities should offer reporting entities far more extensive policy guidance than the UK model has done. Aside from the generic drafting difficulty of finding a stable, commercially sensible definition, the paper explains at least three reasons why the statutory scheme should not seek to define ‘supply chains.’
The Deliberative Case for Constitutional Referenda
Author(s): Ron Levy
In this article I examine controversies over the use of referenda and plebiscites for constitutional reform. My chief example is a recent development toward plebiscitary democracy in Australia. Although there is no legal requirement in Australia for a popular vote to legalize same-sex marriage, the federal government considered holding such a vote. Marriage rights provide a key example in which the normative case for direct democratic constitutional reform remains unsettled, and indeed controversial. I rely on deliberative democratic theory to conclude that referenda and plebiscites generally should be part of constitutional reform processes. I nuance this conclusion by outlining categories of legal norms raising distinctive considerations as to whether and when public voting should precede constitutional reform.
Empty Rituals or Workable Models? Towards a Business and Human Rights Treaty
Author(s): Jolyon Ford
In this article, we do not seek to engage directly with ongoing discussions regarding the potential merits, and conversely the risks, of seeking to conclude a Business and Human Rights (BHR) treaty at all. Instead, our aim is to promote a greater focus, in the context of the BHR treaty debate, on regulatory effectiveness. That is, we believe that proposals for a BHR treaty should be assessed in terms of their likely efficacy, relative to other available forms of regulatory intervention, in advancing effective enjoyment of human rights in the business context. Whereas many contributions to the BHR treaty debate so far have explicitly or implicitly advocated one or other treaty model they have side-stepped the difficult question of how practically effective these models might be in influencing the conduct of duty bearers.