Australian Journal of Human Rights
James IliffeHuman rights ideas can be notoriously difficult to communicate. For many people, the complex, legalistic language that often surrounds human rights and the byzantine processes involved in developing and implementing human rights standards can seem difficult to penetrate. The end result is that many people, particularly many young people, consider human rights to be something distant, high-brow or irrelevant. To address this, the NSW Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC) has just produced a 24-page `plain English' overview of human rights issues as part of its regular Hot Topics series. As such it is a particularly useful resource for students, non-lawyers and general readers, as well as being a helpful quick-reference guide for academics.
Hot Topics: Human Rights begins with an overview of the ways in which human rights are currently protected under international law. It examines how complaints are lodged under international law and includes case studies of two recent complaints lodged against Australia and upheld by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The publication goes on to look at the history of human rights and their development through international customary law, treaty law and United Nations law. There is a listing of the major international human rights treaties and information on when they were adopted and when they came into force in Australia, as well as a brief description of some of the most significant treaties and regional agreements. In addition, there is an easy-to-read explanation on treaty-making and Australian law and an overview of the role and function of Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. The publication also contains a double-page pullout of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a human rights reading list, a human rights glossary and a listing of useful Internet sites and organisations.
With the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights being celebrated on 10 December 1998, Hot Topics: Human Rights is a valuable tool for anyone studying or practicing in the field or with an interest in human rights issues. Copies can be purchased through LIAC for $15 by phoning (02) 9273 1558. LIAC's Hot Topics series has recently produced plain English publications examining issues including courts; juvenile justice; native title; and family law.