Book highlights human rights

Published 31 May 2006

Refugees, reconciliation and environmental degradation are just some of the human rights issues covered in a new book co-sponsored by the United Nations University, Southern Cross University and the University of Ulster.

What kind of vision for humanity and the world is necessary given the harsh realities and challenges of the 21st century? What connects and sustains action with vision? How is the vision of human rights activated in the individual and in society?

These questions form the basis of Activating Human Rights, which is based on papers originally presented at the international conference 'Activating Human Rights and Diversity', held in Byron Bay in 2003.

The book advances a powerful and convincing affirmation of the importance of human rights in the 21st century.

Associate Professor Baden Offord, the Director of SCU's Centre for Cultural Diversity and Social Justice, co-editor and author of two chapters said: "The key inspiration for this book came from the leader of Burma's National League for Democracy and Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has made the important point that human rights action must be sustained by vision, that theory and practice must go together.

"The book covers a wide range of perspectives and issues on human rights theory and practice," Dr Offord said.

"The book looks at reconciliation, refugees, women, Indigenous issues, same-sex sexualities, conflict resolution, environmental degradation, political freedoms in Nigeria, Singapore, Kashmir and much more."

Contributors include Monica McWilliams, Northern Ireland's Chief Commissioner of Human Rights, Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party, Aboriginal legal rights campaigner Irene Watson, disability rights advocates Gerard Goggin and Christopher Newell, international human rights scholar Sam Garkawe, gay rights author Carl Stychin, and human rights and community development expert Jim Ife.

The book is published by the international academic publishing house, Peter Lang (Oxford, Berne, New York and Vienna, 2006) and edited by Elisabeth Porter, Professor of Politics and Research Director of INCORE, a joint University of Ulster and UN University centre of excellence in international peace and conflict research, together with Dr Offord.

A launch of the book by the patron of SCU's Centre for Cultural Diversity and Social Justice, the Honourable Justice Michael Kirby, will take place later in the year.

Media contact: Brigid Veale SCU Communications Manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.