Opinion pieces


Legal analysis: Myanmar violating Rights of the Child obligations


The Myanmar Government’s treatment of Rohingya children violates core provisions of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, according to a legal opinion co-authored by Professor Guy S. Goodwin-Gill of UNSW’s Kaldor Centre and Dr Jason Pobjoy, a barrister at Blackstone Chambers in London.

Since the violent attacks targeting the stateless Muslim minority Rohingya in August 2017, nearly 700,000 people are estimated to have fled into Bangladesh, half of them children.

Tragedy of Errors: The Solicitor General, the Supreme Court and the Truth


The Office of the Solicitor General found itself in the position of defending an Executive Order targeting a broad group of individuals whom, the president claimed, should be subject to broad restrictions in the interest of national security. As the office responsible for representing the United States before the Supreme Court, the Solicitor General argued that “[p]rompt and decisive action was necessary” because loyal individuals could not be separated from disloyal. Relying on that position — that the restrictions were justified based upon official military assessments — the Court accepted the government’s reasoning and ruled against the petitioners. Yet, it turns out, the government’s argument was demonstrably false; the Solicitor General knowingly misled the Supreme Court in order to obscure the fact that the Executive Order was based on racist ideas, rather than reasoned judgment.

Are would-be new Americans part of Trump’s ‘new American moment’?

Dr Claire Higgins

On Tuesday night in Washington DC, the President of the United States delivered his first report on the ‘State of the Union’. The nation, President Donald Trump said, is ‘compassionate’, and does ‘more than any other country’ to help those in need around the world. Yet on immigration and refugee policy, the Trump administration’s ‘America first’ approach is harsh, divisive, and full of uncertainty for many migrants within the US and for those seeking protection in the country as refugees.

Stop the doublespeak on Manus policy

Professor Jane McAdam

If Papua New Guinea is responsible for the fate of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island, then why is it the Australian Prime Minister rejecting New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 of them?  

The double-speak on this issue is breathtaking, and the Australian government’s actions belie its rhetoric that this is PNG’s problem and not its own.  

Manus detention centre: Australia is still responsible for these men — and those who haven't made it this far

Madeline Gleeson

First published in ABC News, 1 November 2017.

Australia has "closed" the Manus Island detention centre, and all eyes are on the hundreds of men who have barricaded themselves in, refusing to move to the "transit" accommodation in nearby Lorengau for fear of what awaits them there.

All Australian security personnel and essential services have been withdrawn, leaving the men to fend for themselves.

A Half-Century of Universal Refugee Protection Under Threat

Guy S Goodwin-Gill

First published in Refugees Deeply, 4 October 2017

Fifty years ago, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees entered into force. It would finally put the international protection of refugees on a universal basis, without limit of time or place. It would thus provide the framework for a truly international response to international problems that no one state should bear alone.

Australia’s long history of offshore detention

Dr Claire Higgins

First published in the Lowy Interpreter, 8 September 2017

Shutting down the Manus Island detention centre by 31 October, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has said, will represent 'the closure of a sad chapter'. Much remains unclear about this planned closure, but the eventual failure of offshore detention was clearly foreseen by the Immigration Department – not in 2012, when Manus and Nauru were re-opened, nor even in 1992, when mandatory detention became law. The failure was predicted at the very beginning, when asylum seekers were sailing to Australia in sustained numbers for the first time.

Dutton should learn to live with lawyers helping in matters of life and death

Dr Claire Higgins

First published in The Guardian.

Lawyers who defend asylum seekers, the Immigration Minister believes, are ‘un-Australian’. Peter Dutton is not the first Minister to level criticism at asylum seeker advocates. But history shows that things could –and should – have turned out very differently.