Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Human Rights and Australian International Citizenship: Paragon or Pest?

Dr Katharine Patricia Gelber.

Australia has engaged in the world human rights system since its creation (in its modern form) at the end of World War II. However, in recent years there have been criticisms of Australia’s human rights stance in relation to several important events. This paper will first briefly outline Australia’s historical involvement in and commitment to the drafting of universal human rights norms and standards through the United Nations. This historical outlook will then be contrasted with Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, and Australia’s selective and conditional compliance with multilateral human rights treaties. I will argue that Australia’s contemporary human rights policy discourse is leading Australia to reject internationally-determined human rights norms and standards in favour of domestically-determined policy priorities. This has implications for the construction of the human rights agenda domestically and internationally.


Dr Katharine Patricia Gelber  (Australia)
School of Politics and International Relations, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
University of New South Wales

Dr Katharine Gelber lectures in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of New South Wales. Her research interests are in Australian politics and human rights. She has recently published Speaking Back: the free speech versus hate speech debate (John Benjamins Ltd, 2002), and has published in the Australian Journal of Politics and History, the Australian Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Australian Studies.

  • Human Rights
  • Policy discourse

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)