In conversation with Elaine Pearson
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Location: Common Room, Level 4, Sydney Law School
New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney (Camperdown Campus)
Elaine Pearson will be in conversation with Professor Simon Rice and Dr Susan Banki on her new book, Chasing Wrongs and Rights, in which the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch shares her experiences defending human rights. Pearson, ranging across human trafficking in Nepal to the ‘drug war’ in the Philippines to treatment of detainees in Papua New Guinea and in Australia, offers an extremely involving personal account of how far we’ve come, and how far we’ve got to go.
Elaine, in her career, followed her interest in women’s rights and people-trafficking, interviewing sex-workers and victims of trafficking on the streets of Bangkok and Amsterdam’s red light district. Her experiences in Nepal and Nigeria profoundly shaped her understanding of how governments and NGOs need to protect the rights of victims, as well as how poverty, corruption and war drive trafficking in the first place.
Elaine’s story takes us on a panoramic survey of human rights across the world – into the UN committee rooms of New York and Geneva, as well as to the front-lines of Sri Lanka’s search for those who disappeared in the country’s civil war, examining death squad killings on the Philippines island of Mindanao and the detention of asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea. And her work on the appalling treatment of prisoners, many of whom are Aboriginal, vividly demonstrates that human rights abuses are something that happens at home as well as out in that wider world.
In exploring human rights abuses and governments’ failure to address them, Chasing Wrongs and Rights sometimes shows humanity at its worst. Just as often, though, we see people at their best – compassionate, resilient, determined. Deeply informative and inspiring, Elaine Pearson’s story will leave you understanding how much needs to change, and how individuals can make a difference.
‘Important and inspiring. Essential reading for those who want to help, because it illuminates the courage, commitment and collegiality needed for working towards a better world.’
- Geoffrey Robertson QC AO
About the speakers
Elaine Pearson is the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch, based in Sydney. She established Human Rights Watch’s Australia office in 2013 and works to influence Australian foreign and domestic policies in order to give them a human rights dimension. Pearson writes frequently for a range of publications and her articles have appeared in the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Foreign Policy and the Washington Post. From 2007 to 2012 she was the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division based in New York. She is an adjunct lecturer in law at the University of New South Wales, on the advisory committee of UNSW’s Australian Human Rights Institute and on the board of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women.
Professor Simon Rice
Immediately before joining Sydney Law School, Simon was a professor of law, and director of law reform and social justice, at the ANU College of Law. He has previously been a lecturer in the University of NSW Law Faculty 1989-1995 where he was director of clinical programs, and a senior lecturer in the Division of Law at Macquarie University from 2005-2007. He has won a number of teaching awards, most recently receiving a Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning at ANU in 2015.
Dr Susan Banki
Susan Banki studies the political, institutional, and social contexts that explain the roots of and solutions to human rights violations and social justice abuses. In particular, she is interested in the ways that questions of sovereignty, transnationalism, and citizenship/membership have shaped our responses to conflict and injustice, particularly examining institutions such as the international refugee regime, diasporas, and the humanitarian system. Susan’s focus is in the Asia-Pacific region, where she has conducted extensive field research in Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Japan on refugee/migrant protection, statelessness and border control. Her current projects include: the work of diasporas in responding to acute crises at home; humanitarian responses to complex displacement contexts; and the role of creative arts in transnational activism.