Book Review: Watching Brief: Reflections on Human Rights, Law and Justice (Julian Burnside)
Australian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 27, p. 268, 2008
5 Pages Posted: 23 May 2009 Last revised: 27 Aug 2009
Date Written: April 22, 2009
Julian Burnside’s collection of essays provides an insight into the mind of one of the Howard era’s most vocal public critics. Located within traditional liberal values and orthodox human rights principles, Burnside’s stories of human suffering and his Kantian appeals to human dignity are aimed at awakening our ‘imagination to understand the realities’ behind the political and legal spin of the times. Although sometimes loose with his legal language, his vision of a ‘just society’, his concerns for democracy, and his fury at the disempowerment and silencing of ‘voiceless minorities’ (notably asylum-seekers, indigenous peoples, and ‘terror’ suspects) remain persuasive and relevant to the new administrations in both Australia and the US.
Keywords: Asylum-seekers, human rights, liberalism; Kant, immigration detention, Howard Government, Al-Kateb, Nauru, Guantanamo, crimes against humanity
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