Friday 14 May 2021 | 03:28 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 13 May 2021 12:00

    Indonesia responds to the cyber dark side

    Australia will also benefit from practical bilateral cooperation to enhance Indonesia’s cyber security.

  • 13 May 2021 09:30

    Myanmar and a new kind of civil war

    Urban dissidents trained by battle-hardened guerillas in the countryside could make things harder for the Tatmadaw.

  • 12 May 2021 13:00

    Australian aid: How low can it go?

    As the developing world suffers a crisis unlike any ever seen, the budget shows Australia at its least generous ever.

Human rights

Andrew Peacock’s Timor legacy

Since his death on 13 April, tributes to former Australian foreign minister and leader of the federal opposition Andrew Peacock have flowed from across the political divide. He has been remembered as a huge figure who left an “indelible” mark on Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Former Liberal

Some reflections on the “anonymous Xinjiang paper”

During an event to launch the China Story Yearbook at the National Press Club in Canberra on 21 April, the Director of the Australian National University’s China in the World Centre, Professor Jane Golley, stated that she had received an anonymous “scholarly” article that “debunks much of

Response to Myanmar coup shows need for UN reform

It’s been almost three months since Myanmar’s military junta seized power from the democratically elected government. More than 700 protesters have been killed, and more than 3000 arrested. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said that the military is likely committing

Indonesia raises ASEAN’s bar on Myanmar

For much of his presidency, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo has taken a mercantilist view of foreign policy, pushing the country’s diplomats to promote trade and investment while keeping their heads below the parapet on most thorny international issues. Indonesia’s inward-looking approach compounded

Legalising same-sex marriage in Japan

Last month, a Japanese district court for the first time ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional. The verdict by the Sapporo District Court was a result of simultaneous lawsuits against the nation demanding marriage equality as well as compensation for psychological

In Singapore, Covid vs privacy is no contest

Life in Singapore during the pandemic has become about tracking, tracking, tracking. Wherever one goes, one has to scan QR codes that log entry into malls, restaurants, shops and office buildings. For those who have just arrived on the island, it might seem like an uncomfortable intrusion into

When will PNG establish a National Human Rights Commission?

Corruption is one of the biggest challenges in Papua New Guinea, according to Transparency International PNG. In 2020, the government successfully established the Independent Commission Against Corruption to protect government systems and provide whistleblowers a mechanism for reporting complaints.

Australia in focus at the UN Human Rights Council

Australia is a peaceful, prosperous nation that vocalises its support for human rights – and yet last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, one after another, countries voiced their concerns about serious human rights violations that are being committed in Australia, particularly relating

PNG and the politics of the death penalty

Another season of turmoil has swept politics in Papua New Guinea. The Supreme Court has ruled the recent budget sitting to be unlawful, ordering the parliament to resume on Monday while the prospect a no confidence motion in Prime Minister James Marape hangs in the air. But for all the raucous

China’s online meddling goes beyond the Great Firewall

Last week, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted on Twitter a fake image which portrayed an Australian soldier with a bloody knife next to a child holding a lamb. The Australian government was outraged, describing it as “disinformation”. This is just the latest episode of the

In the Philippines, a label can take your life

A civil war has been going on in the Philippines for over 50 years, waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with the armed guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA). The rebels boast a strength spread across 73 out of the country’s 81 provinces. Every president since the conflict

Duterte’s vaccine promise is a political placebo

As early as April, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte set a P50 million (A$1.45 million) reward for anyone who comes up with a vaccine for Covid-19. Since then, Duterte has assured the public that inoculations for the virus will soon be readily available. The administration went so far as to

Colonialism and cultural erasure in Xinjiang

On 17 September, the Information of Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China released a White Paper, “Employment and Labour Rights in Xinjiang”, detailing the Chinese Communist Party’s “proactive employment policies” in the region. The paper is clearly part of China

Francis Fukuyama in Minsk

Thirty years ago, Francis Fukuyama sprang to international prominence by suggesting that history might be at an end. Ever since, lesser academic lights have queued up to tell anyone who would listen why he was wrong. Less thought has been given, however, to what Fukuyama was actually right about,

Bangladesh: Fight the power or shut up?

Hip-hop artists have long used rap music to launch cultural protests about social injustice, police brutality, inequality and discrimination.  Songs such as Tupac Shakur’s “Trapped”, which talks about seclusion of black youths in American neighbourhoods, NWA’s “F**k tha Police” or

Understanding the full spectrum of hate

What is the relationship between online and offline extremism? What types of data should be examined in order to understand this relationship? What is the full scope of violent extremist actions? These are all key questions that extremism researchers are trying to answer. Part of the answer may

The killings in the Philippines grow more brazen

Earlier this month, days after Manila went back into a hard lockdown due to a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, unidentified assailants slipped past the Philippine capital’s strict quarantine measures and approached the home of Randall Echanis, a left-wing party leader and longtime activist. When

The Beirut explosion and the plight of Syrian refugees

When you have the privilege of working in international relations, there are some experiences that stay with you for life. There are the places you go and the people you meet. Conversations that start at the roundtable, continue into dinner, and often go late into the night. At airports and hotels,

UN report on US killing of Iranian commander misses the mark

In the early hours of 3 January 2020, missiles fired from US drones killed ten people near Baghdad airport. Drone strikes by the US are almost commonplace these days, but what made this particular strike noteworthy was its target: General Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, a unit of

Thailand: Another dissenter disappears

On 4 June, Wanchalearm Satsaksit – a self-exiled Thai political activist living in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh – vanished. He was almost certainly abducted. CCTV footage shows him taken away in a black car. His sister, who was on the phone with him when he was seized, told BBC Thai that he

In the US, a week of protests and a tidal wave of history

In reaction to the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis – its brutality captured on video – mass demonstrations arose across 140 American cities and around the world this week. The protests have been, and continue to be, dominated by people peacefully holding signs that read

In India and Africa, women farmers lack land rights

In October 2016, women from across the African continent met at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with a charter of demands pushing for women’s right to use, control, own, inherit and dispose land. The Women2Kilimanjaro hike’s demand for more inclusive land rights proved not to be in

Rohingya in Malaysia, doubly trapped

For some people living in the Ampang district in eastern Kuala Lumpur, self-isolation is nothing new. The area is known for its concentration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, nestled in the grimy apartments and neighbourhoods of this former tin mining centre, and they haven't been going out for a

West Papua: Looking for an opening

When the world is grappling with the kind of calamity few of us have experienced before, it can be easy to forget other crises. Climate change springs to mind. So, too, does the record level of human displacement around the world, a problem largely driven by conflict. That brings us to the long-

Samoa’s constitutional crisis: Undermining rule of law

While the global community struggles to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, Samoa is embroiled in a constitutional crisis. The South Pacific nation is frequently lauded for its good governance and regional leadership. The current crisis, however, has exposed fault lines around race and identity that

Coronavirus: The end of sexist economics?

As coronavirus spreads, government spending, and lots of it, has been the order of the day. Most of the analysis has focused on the economic impact of these responses, with scant attention paid to the impact on gender. Yet the pandemic has exposed the gendered fault lines of the economy,

The curious case of the US Sri Lanka sanctions

In February, the United States imposed individual sanctions against Sri Lankan military chief Shavendra Silva, who is presently both the Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Sri Lanka Army. The move essentially means that Silva and his family cannot enter the United States “due to

Modern slavery reports, year one: What can we expect?

In 2020, the Commonwealth’s much-heralded Modern Slavery Act (MSA) obliges Australian companies above a consolidated revenue threshold of $100 million to report on their policies and actions relating to ending modern slavery in their supply chains. The issue of modern slavery is fraught, complex

Five urgent issues for Indonesia’s president

On 10 February, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) will address Australia’s parliament. Indonesia is often referred to as the democratic success story of Southeast Asia and a model of Muslim democracy, yet it has been responsible for significant backsliding on human rights in recent