Oct 15

2017-10-14 Australia contests UN Human Rights Council Seat

Australia expects to be elected uncontested to the powerful United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday in New York . Australia was competing for one of two ‘Western Europe and others’ group seats against Spain and France, but France’s withdrawal made Australia’s elevation almost certain.
Election is not a formality: a majority of votes cast is needed for election, and a country could be denied a spot if half of the member countries voting refuse to cast a vote for it. However, elections to the 47-member council will be almost entirely uncompetitive, except for seats among Asia-Pacific states, where six states are competing for four seats.
Australia has campaigned globally for its position on the Human Rights Council, arguing it will promote gender equality; good governance; freedom of expression; indigenous rights; and strong national human rights institutions. It has also said it will advocate for the global abolition of the death penalty. “Australia will bring a principled and pragmatic approach to our term on the Human Rights Council,” foreign minister Julie Bishop said, launching Australia’s bid.

Oct 05

2017-10-04 Daniel Webb wins Global Pluralism Award for refugee rights work

Daniel Webb

Daniel Webb

My best congratulations go to Daniel Webb,  Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, for winning the inaugural Global Pluralism Award for his refugee rights work. It was awarded by the Canadian-based Global Centre for Pluralism. The citation reads:

By protecting asylum seekers from horrendous detention and changing the public conversation about refugees from deterrence to opportunity, Daniel Webb is paving a way for other global leaders,” – Canada’s former Prime Minister and Chair of the Jury the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark.

This award is worthy recognition of Daniel’s work, the gravity of the cruelty he and his team are working to support clients facing deportation to offshore detention. He has travelled to Manus three times and works closely with the men detained there to amplify their voices. He has run High Court challenges against the secretive detention of people on the high seas and led our work on the #LetThemStay campaign, which prevented the deportation of more than 267 men, women and children to offshore processing centres.

You can read more about the Global Pluralism Award here.

Jul 06

2017-07-06 SBS Urged to Recognise Armenian Genocide

It was an honor to associate myself with a group of 43 eminent Australians in signing up a statement calling on SBS to drop a commentary style which casts doubt on the Armenian genocide.

Experts’ statement on SBS and the Armenian genocide – June 2017

There is no doubt in my mind the mass murder of some between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians meets the definition of genocide contained in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948. Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group …”. Clearly Armenians were targeted by the Turkish authorities for destruction of their community because of their ethnic and religious heritage. For more detail see my speech delivered to the Armenian community: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/speeches/armenia-rwanda-genocide-20th-century-has-humanity-learnt-anything-dr-sev-ozdowski-oam

The statement was organized by Meher Grigorian, a director of the Australian Institute of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and it challenges the SBS policy that refers to refer to the Armenian genocide as a “mass killing of Armenians considered by many to have been a genocide, which Turkey denies”. To date, the statement has received coverage from Honest History and The Australian Jewish News.

For SBS response see the statement made by SBS CEO Mr Michal at the hearings before Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDdfToue_AE&authuser=0


Jun 19

2017-06-16 The Human Rights Centre of the University of Padova

It is a pleasure to be associated with the Human Rights Centre of the University of Padova and in particular with its Ph.D. programme that is run jointly with the Western Sydney University and a number of European universities. Recently a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Prof. Songcai Yang, Director of the Guangzhou University Institute of Human Rights and Prof. Marco Mascia, Director of the University of Padova Human Rights Centre. The ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ reinforces the partnership between the two Human Rights Centres in order to allow greater academic collaboration in the future.

Below there are some highlights of recent initiatives:

MA Degree Programme in Human Rights and Multi-level Governance

The Master’s degree course provides students with the knowledge and the competences required to protect and promote human rights in multi-level
governance contexts, locally to internationally. The application process for candidates with Italian qualifications is open until the 28th September 2017. New admission notice for candidates with a foreign qualification will be soon available (Pre-enrolment from 16th June to 14th July 2017).

Peace Human Rights Governance Academic Journal

PHRG is the new scientific journal of the Human Rights Centre of the University of Padova. The first issue is now online. Original research articles submitted to PHRG from now up until 3rd September 2017 will be considered for the third issue of the Journal first volume (PHRG 1(3). The issue will be published in November 2017. Further updates from the Human Rights Centre of the University of Padova could be found at Regional Archive ‘Pace Diritti Umani – Peace Human Rights’.


Jun 14

2017-06-14 8th International Human Rights Education Conference “Bridging Diversities” – early bird registrations

Register before July 15, 2017 to attend 8th International Human Rights Education Conference “Bridging our Diversities” to be held in Montreal, Canada on 30 November – 3 December and take advantage of our early bird fee, see: http://ichre2017.equitas.org/en/home/

There is also a limited number of places available at student and NGO fee.

See you at 8th IHREC in Montreal!

In 2018 The IHRE Conference will return to Sydney (where it has started) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UN Universal Human Rights Declaration. Please reserve the time from 10 to13 December 2018.

May 31

2017-05-31 Invitation to Forum on Multicultural Australia with Minister Zed Seselja 7 June 2017

Open Forum: Multicultural Australia

As the Federal Government introduces a strict new citizenship test, Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Senator Zed Seselja will address an upcoming Western Sydney Open Forum. Titled Multicultural Australia, the forum will discuss Australia’s continued evolution as the world’s most successful multicultural society.

The forum will take place on June 7 at 6pm at the Female Orphan School, Western Sydney University Parramatta South campus.

Earlier this year, the Federal Government released a new multicultural statement, focusing on the importance of being an integrated and united people, as well as the significance of shared values, national security and respect for citizenship.

In addition, the government has recently introduced a new citizenship test where applicants need to demonstrate a high level of English language proficiency.

Director of Equity and Diversity at Western Sydney University and Chair of the Multicultural Council, Dr Sev Ozdowski, says the event will be a good opportunity for the public to engage in dialogue with the government over these issues.

“Australia has flourished thanks for our cultural diversity, with our success built on the efforts and commitments of millions of people from different backgrounds,” says Dr Ozdowski.

“The government’s multicultural statement aims to recognize this, and strike a balance between the mutual rights and responsibilities of current and future citizens.”

“I look forward to hearing from Senator Zed Seselja about how he believes the government’s recent changes will help ensure Australia’s continued success.”

Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful will take place on 7 June at  5:30pm, Parramatta South Campus, Female Orphan School, Building EZ.

May 24

2017-05-23 Deng Adut at the 64th Western Sydney University Open Forum

On 10 May 2017 I had a pleasure to host Deng Adut as a speaker at the 64th Western Sydney University Open Forum. He spoke about: Why torture must be opposed unconditionally? His co-speaker was Prof. Michael Head.

Deng Adut is graduate of WSU Law School. He was born in a village in South Sudan. When he was 6 years old, he was taken away from his family and conscripted into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He was taught how to use an AK-47 and as a child soldier was send to battle.

After 5 years he was rescued by his brother john and smuggled into Kenyan refugee camp. He came to Australia as a refugee aged 14 where he taught himself to read, write and speak English, and went on to win a scholarship to study law in 2005.

By now at the age of 33 Deng works as a lawyer and spends much of his free time working with disenfranchised youth and refugees. Deng Adut become a well-known personality in 2015, when a short video about his life went viral – it has attracted more than 2.5 million views to date. Deng was recently named NSW Australian of the Year for 2017. He has published a book “Songs of a War Boy” in November 2016.

The Forum was filmed by Sky News and is available for streaming at http://www.a-pac.tv/video/


May 03

2017-05-03 Late Prof. Jerzy Zubrzycki honoured in Cracow.

On 11 April, 140 people packed the conference room of Krakow’s International Cultural Centre for the launch of the Polish edition of Jerzy Zubrzycki’s biography, Jerzy Zubrzycki: wielki Polak i Australijczyk (published in English as The Promise of Diversity). The biography was written by IofC workers John Williams and John Bond, translated by Polish academic Joanna Nurmis, and published by Neriton Publishers in Warsaw.

May 02

2017-05-02 Lecture about Australian Multiculturalism

On Tuesday 2 May 2017 The Affinity Intercultural Foundation has invited me to deliver a  Luncheon  Lecture titled: ‘Reclaiming Australian Multiculturalism: Policy and Practice in a Shifting Landscape’. Ms Cath Dwyer, Manager, 702 ABC Sydney was Affinity guest facilitator.

Copy of my lecture is available here: 2017-05-02 AFFINITY LUNCH Speech

My Affinity presentation has been uploaded and can be viewed here: