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Eminent legal scholar and academic administrator Professor Michael Crommelin has accepted the role of Dean of the Melbourne Law School at the University of Melbourne.

Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights will come under the spotlight at the annual Chancellor’s Human Rights Lecture at the University of Melbourne tomorrow.

Professor James Hathaway has announced his resignation as Dean of the Melbourne Law School at the University of Melbourne from 1 February 2010 to return to full-time academic life.

The Prime Minister’s personal intervention to convince the Indonesian President to arrest and hold 260 Sri Lankans off Krakatoa Island this week smacks of the Howard administration’s program says the Dean of the Melbourne Law School, Professor James Hathaway.

Internationally respected global health and pandemics scholar Professor Lawrence Gostin will deliver the 2009 Miegunyah Public Lecture at the University of Melbourne on Wednesday, September 16.

The decision by the US Government this week to pass on names of all detainees in its secret detention centres to the Red Cross is a step in the right direction, according to Professor Gerry Simpson.  "We know that in secret sites like Bagram Air Base (Iraq) and Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) that some fairly nasty things can happen, and it’s the glare of publicity that prevents torture in many cases." 

"So I think identifying and giving the names of these individuals is a big step, certainly from the perspective of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and international lawyers generally."

However a recent survey by the Australian Red Cross to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Convention found that more than a third of Australians thought torture on captured soldiers was acceptable if it was to obtain military information.  It's a debate that Professor Simpson finds suspect.  "The example always given is the terrorist with a ticking bomb, that you have to torture this individual before the ticking bomb blows up half the city.  But there’s never been a case of a ticking bomb, so I think there’s something slightly spurious about using this as a way into legitimizing torture."

A full academic profile of Professor Simpson is available at

To help commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions (established August 1949) the International Red Cross ran an essay competition on the importance of international humanitarian law.  The following is the winning essay by Sarah Horan, a final year Media & Communications/Law student at the University of Melbourne, on the the development of international humanitarian law since the establishment of the Geneva Conventions.

Dr Francis Gurry, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), will give his first Australian speech as head of the UN agency on Monday August 3.

Professor Tim Lindsey says the re-election of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has, somewhat surprisingly, barely rated a mention in one of it's biggest trading and diplomatic partners: Australia. 

"Perhaps this was because it was expected, but I suspect it's more likely that Australian's have barely noticed Indonesia's extremely successful transition to democracy.  Of all the countries that have gone through the economic crisis, Indonesia is one of the few in which democracy has taken hold and increased."

"Attitudes in Australia are still fixed by the old experiences of an authoritarian, military backed dictatorship under Suharto.  Despite the fact that somewhere around a fifth of Australian's have gone to Bali, no one seems to have registered the massive transition to an open, democratic and vibrant democracy."

Former Justice of the High Court of Australia, The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, discusses international law in accepting an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the University of Melbourne.