Michael Kirby to give lecture on Human Rights and the Commonwealth
05 March 2015
The Human Dignity Trust is delighted to invite you to a lecture given by Michael Kirby AC CMG, a former senior judge in Australia and among the most eminent jurists of our time.
Michael Kirby’s lecture, entitled Can the Commonwealth of Nations Survive? A Dismal Story of Human Rights, is to be given on the 89th birthday of the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty the Queen. It will reflect on recent grave human rights abuses that have been ignored across the Commonwealth community.
The event will be chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and the vote of thanks will be given by Sir Stephen Wall, Former British Ambassador to the EU and adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair. The event is generously sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills and we are grateful to the Law Society for hosting it.
Venue: The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
Date: 21st April 2015
Lecture: From 6.30pm
The event is free, but places are limited.
As a member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG) in 2010 -2011, Michael Kirby was among those foremost in drafting the Charter of Commonwealth values, agreed by Commonwealth leaders and signed into effect by the Queen in 2013.
Another key proposal of the EPG was the creation of the office of an independent Commissioner For Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights, who would investigate complaints of serious human rights abuses. However, this recommendation was blocked at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth in 2011, just as the Charter itself was, according to Michael, ‘watered down’ considerably.
In the years since, shocking instances of violence and grossly abusive laws targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have been documented in several Commonwealth countries.
Micheal now wants to ask - has the Commonwealth’s quiet diplomacy morphed into abject surrender in the face of serious abuses of the rule of law, democracy and human rights? Is the Charter a toothless tiger?
Short Biography for Michael Kirby
The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG was a Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009) and President of the Court of Appeal of New South Wales (1984-96) and of Solomon Islands (1995-6). He has served or serves on many Commonwealth, International and United Nations bodies. He was President of the International Commission of Jurists (1995-8); Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-96); and recently Chair of the UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Enquiry on Human Rights Abuses in DPRK (North Korea) (2013-14). He serves on several bodies relevant to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.