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Past talks

David Kinley
A New Right to Freedom from Corruption
Professor David Kinley
Wednesday 30 April 2014

Global corruption has reached staggering proportions. Illicit financial flows out of developing countries over the past decade are calculated to be US$8.44 trillion. This is more than ten times what those countries received in aid during that time, and equivalent to the total of all foreign direct investment into the developing world over the same period. As a result, governments are compromised, the law perverted, and human rights trampled.  Corruption pollutes public and private spheres in wealthy states as well as poorer ones.

Australia is no exception, as illustrated by ICAC's investigation of public sector fraud in NSW, the Heydon Royal Commission into unions' finances, and the ongoing criminal investigations into bribery allegations against Australian corporations Securency/NPA and Leighton Holdings. But rather than be a victim of this global "plague" (as Kofi Annan called it), can human rights contribute to its cure? David Kinley argues it can, by way of the creation of a new, free-standing human right in international law - a "right to freedom from corruption".

In this talk David Kinley explains why we need such a new right, what form it should take, and whether it would work in practice.

Date: Wednesday 30 April
Time: 12:30pm  - 1:30pm

Filming:  All RightsTalks session are recorded and each session will be available on the Commission website. Please note that by attending the event, you are releasing and consenting to the use of those photos and video in various forms of media, on the web and in print by the Commission.

Tarik Abdulhak in court
RightsTalk: Khmer Rouge on Trial
Tarik Abdulhak
Monday 14 April 2014

Tarik Abdulhak, an Australian lawyer who has been working at international criminal tribunals since 2004, will present a RightsTalk at the Australian Human Rights Commission on 14 April focused on the alleged Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia.

Tarik, who is a lead prosecution counsel in the trials before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), will talk about the mass crime trials before the ECCC, and the Court's institutional and procedural framework.

Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, which ruled Cambodia for less than four years from 1975, is alleged to have caused the deaths of between 1.75 and 2.2 million people through physical and psychological abuse, starvation, forced labour and executions.

While in power, the Khmer Rouge broke up families, closed down courts of law, schools and markets, abolished money, religion, television and newspapers, and effectively eliminated all human rights. The Khmer Rouge are also alleged to have targeted religious and ethnic minorities for extermination.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia were established in 2006 by the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia to bring to trial leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime and others considered responsible for these atrocities.

The cases brought before the ECCC include charges of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Case 002, which involves the surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, is one of the largest prosecutions since World War II in terms of its geographic and temporal scope and the number of alleged victims.

Date: Monday 14 April
Time: 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Filming:  All RightsTalks session are recorded and each session will be available on the Commission website. Please note that by attending the event, you are releasing and consenting to the use of those photos and video in various forms of media, on the web and in print by the Commission.

International Women's Day logo
International Women’s Day
Mariah Kennedy, Yarie Bangura, Ella Cuthbert, Heidi Beck
Wednesday 26 February 2014


RightsTalk: The voices of young women inspiring change in Australia today.

The Australian Human Rights Commission, in partnership with the YWCA, will host a special International Women's Day RightsTalk to hear from some of the young women that are inspiring change in Australia today.

This panel will explore the challenges, issues and inspirations of young women today as they negotiate equality in leadership, financial independence and career opportunities.

Panellists include:

Mariah KennedyMariah Kennedy is the 2013 Young People’s Medallist and the Young Ambassador for Unicef. At the age of 16 she became the author of the children’s book ‘Reaching out. Messages of Hope’ which addresses social justice issues such as child labour, refugee rights and global poverty.

Yarie BanguraYarie Bangura relocated to Australia at the age of seven after her family fled the civil war in Sierra Leone, Yarie is an active member of her local community and she recently performed in the 2013 production of the Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe that tells the personal stories of trauma and kidnapping with the aim of inspiring other women not to suffer in silence.

Ella Cuthbert participated in YWCA Canberra’s ‘Respect, Communicate, Choose’ respectful relationships program for young girls and the YWCA Every Girl Program. Ella is in year 6 at Majura Public School and has just been elected Sports
Captain for her school house.

Heidi Beck is the Head of Strategy at Qantas, and was appointed to the YWCA NSW Board as a woman under the age of 31, reflecting the commitment of the organisation to developing young women’s leadership.

This event will be launched by Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, with introductions by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell and the Hon. Anna Bligh, CEO of YWCA NSW.


The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG
RightsTalk: So you think human rights in Australia is difficult? Try North Korea.
The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG
Tuesday 4 February 2014

In March 2013, The UN Human Rights Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the systematic and widespread human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The UN asked a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, to chair the Commission. Its findings will be released in March 2014. Mr Kirby was joined by Serbian human rights expert, Sonja Biserko and Marzuki Darusmans, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK and former Indonesian Attorney General

The Commission's mandate is to investigate torture and arbitrary detention, discrimination, and violations of the right to life, right to food, freedom of movement and freedom of expression. The Commission was also asked to investigate enforced disappearances and violations associated with prison camps.

In this first RightsTalk for 2014, Mr Kirby will discuss the investigation and methodology used in the Commission of Inquiry.

Date: Tuesday 4 February
Time: 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Location: Wallace Theatre, Science Rd (Ross St entrance), Sydney University (Note: due to popular demand this event has been moved from the Australian Human Rights Commission)

Filming:  All RightsTalks session are recorded and each session will be available on the Commission website. Please note that by attending the event, you are releasing and consenting to the use of those photos and video in various forms of media, on the web and in print by the Commission.

Photo by Marcus Mok.

Access denied sign
RightsTalk: Access to the Internet as a Human Right
Natalie Collins, Bruce Maguire, Dr Peter Radoll, Nan Bosler, Graeme Innes (chair)
Thursday 7 November 2013

Chair – Graeme Innes, Disability Discrimination Commissioner

The internet has become intertwined with everything we do – including how we access the news and information, how we access goods and services, and how we communicate with each other.

So what happens if you don’t have access to the internet? What happens if you can’t physically tap into the network, afford to pay for the services, or find digital content that is accessible and readable?

Without internet access and sufficient levels of digital literacy, there is a real danger that some people are going to left behind.  And some people are already being left behind.

The digital divide is a serious issue for many people – in particular for older Australians, people with disabilities, and people in remote communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

The panel includes:

  • Natalie Collins, Deputy Chief Executive, Media Access Australia
  • Bruce Maguire, Policy and Public Affairs Advisor, Vision Australia
  • Dr Peter Radoll, Acting Director of the Ngunnawal Indigenous Higher Education Centre and Assistant Professor in Information Systems, University of Canberra
  • Nan Bosler, President, Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association

So, what are you waiting for? Get registered here