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Australian humanitarian and military law expert Professor Tim McCormack has been appointed as Special Adviser on International Humanitarian Law to Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Oceanic Viking asylum seeker issue has barely caused a ripple of interest in Indonesia, where all the eyes are focussed on the biggest government corruption scandal in years, says Professor Tim Lindsey.  "It’s a little bit like America's Watergate scandal."

Professor Lindsey says the case threatens the anti-corruption platform that swept President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to a second term.  "It's particularly important for Yudhoyono, as he won a spectacular landslide election for his second term just months ago, and he won by running on a strong anti-corruption platform, promising to wipe out corruption and deal with the 'legal mafia'."

"Some two hundred and seventy minutes of wire taps were revealed by the anti-corruption commission that were played in the constitutional court of Indonesia, which had the entire nation riveted to their TV screens."

And Professor Lindsey says the case highlights how inward looking Australia is when it comes to news at its back door.  "We need to udnerstand that in the South East Asian context, not everything that happens is about Australia. While we have the biggest economy in the region, Indonesia domiantes the region strategically and has its own concerns. 

"While Australia has been in a feeding frenzy over the asylum seeker issues, Australia needs to realise that the issue that is confronting us are part of an international problem.  In Indonesia, another boat arriving is not news.  They're much more concerned about whether their government will survive and whether its anti-corruption credentials have any meaning."

You can read more from Prof Lindsey in today's Australian:

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.