Following a succession of severe conflicts that have caused massive loss of life, dislocation and grave human rights violations, the task of the human rights movement today is a daunting one. Has the international community become resigned to irresolvable conflicts and human rights atrocities? The Lowy Institute hosted Philippe Bolopion, Human Rights Watch’s Deputy Director for Global Advocacy, together with ABC foreign correspondent Sophie McNeill and human rights expert and legal advocate Chris Sidoti for a discussion about the challenges of working against atrocities in countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Myanmar, and how United Nations advocacy can be effective.
The discussion was moderated by Lowy Institute Director of Research, Alex Oliver.
Philippe Bolopion is the Deputy Director for Global Advocacy at Human Rights Watch, where he contributes to HRW’s advocacy strategies and its advocacy response to crisis situations worldwide. Bolopion has been with HRW since 2010, travelling extensively to conflict zones such as Burundi, South Sudan, and Mali. He has been UN correspondent with French daily Le Monde and a journalist for France 24 and Radio France International. He reported on the end of the Kosovo conflict in Pristina (1999–2000), and is the author of Guantanamo: Le bagne du bout du monde (2004).
Sophie McNeill is a reporter with the ABC’s Four Corners program and former Middle East correspondent. She has worked across the region including in Afghanistan, Yemen, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and Gaza. She has received three Walkley awards: in 2016 both for her reporting on the war in Yemen and for her work on the starvation of Syrian children in towns under siege, and in 2010 for her investigation into the killing of five children in Afghanistan by Australian Special Forces soldiers. She has twice been awarded Australian Young TV Journalist of the Year.
Chris Sidoti is an expert on human rights law, a senior human rights advocate, and a member of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar since July 2017. He has been Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1999–2000), a commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1992–1995), and has led human rights organisations in Australia and Geneva. He is presently an adjunct professor at the Australian Catholic University.