Book launch: Human Rights and Populism

Hosted by the ANU Centre for International and Public Law, join Professor Jolyon Ford in conversation with Professor Sally Wheeler OBE MRIA FAcSS FAAL (Deputy Vice-Chancellor International & Corporate), Professor Penelope Matthew (ACT Human Rights Commissioner) and Associate Professor Cecilia Jacob (ANU Coral Bell School) on his new book 'Human Rights and Populism' (Routledge, 2023). 

With a welcome by Vice Chancellor Professor Brian P. Schmidt AC FAA FRS, this compelling discussion will be moderated by CIPL Director Associate Professor Imogen Saunders.

If you require accessibility accommodations or a visitor Personal Emergency Evacuation plan please contact the event organiser.

About the book: 

For decades, framing an issue as a 'human rights' issue carried certain power and effect in politics and international relations, one that has been challenged by the recent rise of populist political forces. Ford explores the recent impact of populist politics on the universalist human rights project, in particular, how scholars have framed and responded to this challenge.

Ford offers a provocation to the human rights movement. Rather than 'what have populists done to human rights?', it asks 'how did we, the human rights movement, do this to ourselves?' How did fundamental protections for all become so easily scapegoated as 'us and them', as claims of small, often foreign, minorities? Did human rights lose some vital connection to ordinary people's interests, their value taken as obvious and self-explanatory? Looking forward, the book asks how -- in a post-truth 'fake news' world -- we might reimagine human rights as underpinning human flourishing as well as important constraints on public and private concentrations of power. 

Traversing relevant scholarly literature on the future of human rights and zooming out to look at wider patterns of political and diplomatic discourse, this book will speak to policymakers, diplomats, journalists, and human rights advocates - and all interested in the crisis of liberal democracies.

Professor Jolyon Ford re-joined the Australian National University (ANU) Law School in 2015 from research positions with the Royal Institute for International Affairs ('Chatham House') and the Global Governance Programme at the University of Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government. He has over 20 years' experience in over 30 countries, working on legal, human rights and governance issues in government, an inter-governmental organisation, civil society, think-tanks and the private sector. He is the author of Regulating Business for Peace (Cambridge, 2015) and co-author of Regulatory Insights on Artificial Intelligence (Elgar, 2022). Born and educated in Zimbabwe, he holds degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), Cambridge University, and the ANU.

Professor Sally Wheeler OBE MRIA FAcSS FAAL is the ANU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International & Corporate). Prior to taking up these positions at ANU, Sally was a Professor and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Queen's University Belfast. Sally was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences and the Royal Irish Academy in 2011 and 2013, respectively. She became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in 2018. Sally was the Head of the School of Law at Queen's University Belfast for several years where she also served as Interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS), Dean of Internationalisation (AHSS) and, in 2017, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise. In the 2017 New Year Honours list, Sally was awarded an OBE for services to higher education in Northern Ireland.

Professor Penelope Mathew is President and Human Rights Commissioner of the ACT Human Rights Commission. She was Dean of Auckland Law School since March 2019. Her primary area of research expertise is international refugee law and she has published extensively in this field. Educated at the University of Melbourne and Columbia Law School, her disciplinary background is international law and politics, both of which inform her research on refugee issues. Her career in academia has included positions at the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, Michigan Law School and Griffith University, where she also served a four-year term as Dean and Head of Griffith Law School. In addition, Pene has worked as a human rights lawyer. She served for two years as legal and policy advisor to the Australian Capital Territory's Human Rights Commission, leading the work on an audit of the territory's remand centres, among other matters. In 2008, the ACT government awarded her an International Women's Day Award for outstanding contributions to human rights and social justice. She has also worked on shorter contracts with the Jesuit Refugee Service, and as a consultant to the Australian Human Rights Commission and for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has also contributed her expertise to many parliamentary inquiries in Australia and to media stories about refugees and asylum seekers.

Associate Professor Cecilia Jacob is a Fellow in the Department of International Relations at the Coral Bell School. Her work focuses on civilian protection, mass atrocity prevention, and international human protection norms. She is currently completing a three-year Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowship from the ARC to study UN human protection practices. Her project, 'United Nations Peace and Security Reform for Human Protection', investigates how reform of the United Nations peace and security architecture is adapting to shifts in global power and the changing international order. It examines how these are in turn shaping the organisation's human protection practices in local conflicts. It aims to develop a new framework for studying the international-local interactions that influence global norm-making and implementation, using interdisciplinary methods drawn from sociology, international relations, and international law.

Associate Professor Imogen Saunders is a leading international law researcher. Her work has been published in field leading journals such as the American Journal of International Law, the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law and the Australian Yearbook of International Law. Her monograph on General Principles of Law as a source of international law (Article 38(1)(c) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice) is now out with Hart. Imogen is part of the three institution Backlashes Against International Law research collaboration.


Date and Times


Room: Law Moot Courts


Other events you might be interested in

Page Owner: Alumni