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International legal scholar to give public lecture


Zoe Satherley
20 February 2009
Parents should teach their children good human values right from infancy, says leading human rights scholar and lawyer Adrien Wing, who is about to visit Southern Cross University where she will deliver the third annual Michael Kirby lecture.

This early training should be followed through in all levels of the education system, from preschool right through to university studies, said Professor Wing, the Bessie Dutton Murray Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law.

Professor Wing, who is also the associate dean for faculty development, has taught at the law school since 1987. She is the author of more than 100 publications and has advised committees drafting constitutions in South Africa, Palestine, and Rwanda.

Professor Wing will be speaking on the topic ‘Global Commitments to Human Rights in National Courts’. The public lecture will be held on Friday, March 20, at the Lismore campus, in the Whitebrook Theatre (Y-block) at 6pm.

“I believe there is a need for more countries to incorporate international human rights law into their domestic cases and their laws,” Professor Wing said.

“With respect to my own country, I am hopeful that in the age of our new President Barack Obama, the US will do more of this than in the past.”

Asked if she thought Barack Obama was doing a good job Professor Wing said: “I think he is doing an excellent job so far. Ninety-six percent of Black Americans voted for him and we are all very, very proud!! It is still like a dream for us.”

Professor Wing has previously attended two conferences hosted by Southern Cross University.

“I have been very impressed by what I have seen,” she said. “When I was invited to return to give the Michael Kirby lecture I was delighted. I have been to nearly 100 countries and the hospitality extended to me each time by Southern Cross University has been among the best anywhere in the world.”

Head of Southern Cross University’s School of Law and Justice, Professor Bee Chen Goh, said she encouraged staff, students and members of the public to come to the event. “Professor Wing is a truly exceptional international legal scholar who has a refreshing perspective on human rights,” she said.

An accomplished public speaker, Professor Wing has lectured all over the world. Having studied French, Portuguese, and Swahili, she has served on delegations to many nations including Angola, Cuba, Egypt, Grenada, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Palestine, Panama, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Her US-oriented scholarship has focused on race and gender discrimination, including topics such as the impact of Hurricane Katrina, gangs, mothering, affirmative action, the war on terrorism, and polygamy in Black America. Her international scholarship has emphasised two regions: Africa, especially South Africa; and the Middle East, in particular the Palestinian legal system.

Constitutionalism, women’s rights, rape in Bosnia, Muslim headscarves in France, Tunisian secularism, and Turkish democracy are among the topics of recent articles.

While at Southern Cross University, Professor Wing will launch a seven-DVD set of keynote speeches given at the University’s Activating Human Rights and Peace Conference, in Byron Bay in 2008. The launch will be held on Friday, March 20 at 3pm, in the Co-op Bookshop, Goodman Plaza, where the set and conference proceedings will be available to be purchased.

The Michael Kirby lecture is proudly sponsored by OzXchange Migration.

The lecture will also be held on Friday, March 20, at the Lismore campus in the Whitebrook Theatre (Y-block) at 6pm. The lecture is open to the public and costs $15. A lecture and dinner package later in the evening is priced at $75 per head. For more information phone Anita Dow on 66 20 3375 or email [email protected]. Partial net proceeds from the night will fund Law student grants.

Photo: Adrien Wing (second from right) with, from left: Baden Offord, director, SCU Centre for Peace and Social Justice, her aunt Harriett McFeeters, former High Court judge, Michael Kirby and head of SCU's School of Law and Justice, Bee Chen Goh.