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Editors --- "Proposed Special Issue on Marginality and Exclusion" [2005] AUJlHRights 12; (2005) 11(1) Australian Journal of Human Rights 12


Proposed Special Issue on Marginality and Exclusion


The editors of the Australian Journal of Human Rights invite submissions for a special issue of the Journal in 2006 on the theme of marginality and exclusion.

Although the international community appears to be growing increasingly united and diligent in recognising the importance of human rights obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international covenants, there is still immense inequality in the ways in which human rights are secured for groups and individuals within society. Not only are the populations of developing countries often denied the full benefits of human rights conventions, but also developed countries, such as Australia, are experiencing an increase in the number of individuals and groups who are marginalised and excluded. The lack of government action in the enforcement of basic human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the reluctant implementation and enforcement of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, means that many people are excluded from such fundamental rights as the rights to adequate health, housing, education and a basic standard of living.

Globally, marginalisation is widespread, affecting a large percentage of the world’s population in both developed and developing countries, with more than 1.2 billion people living on less than $1 per day and over half of the world’s population surviving on only $2 a day. It would appear that the pursuit of rapid economic development has often justified any lack of proactive enforcement and safeguarding of human rights on the part of governments, with social exclusion becoming an inevitable by-product of such a trade-off. Any ill-conceived perception of there being a ‘necessary’ trade-off between rights and development needs to be remedied in order to prevent future social polarisation and instability.

The topic of the Special Issue envisages a multidisciplinary approach in exploring the issues surrounding the rights of individuals and groups who are perceived as marginalised due to their inability to access fundamental human rights.

The Special Issue seeks to address the following three key questions.

• What is social exclusion and why does marginality and exclusion occur?

• In what ways are the rights of the marginalised infringed and to what extent does their status as marginalised contribute to their exclusion from enjoying the full benefits of human rights instruments?

• In what ways can states and civil society work to counter the phenomena of exclusion and marginality?

Suggested topics for the Special Issue

Causes of marginality and exclusion

It is important to consider how the phenomena of exclusion and marginality have emerged and are being reproduced. Also, it may be pertinent to consider how different societies respond to marginality and social exclusion and what social policies, if any, are being pursued to address marginalisation.

Marginality and human rights

It is important to look specifically at the various groups of rights (civil, political and social) and the ways in which these rights are infringed with regard to marginalised individuals and groups. Also, how does the infringement of rights further contribute to the exclusion of those marginalised?

Some groups and issues that could be considered include the following.

Female victims of violence — Including women who have experienced violence, sexual assault, forced prostitution, sexual abuse and female genital mutilation, with particular reference to the right to safety and dignity of one’s person, as well as rights enshrined in the Convention Against Torture and the Convention Against the Discrimination of Women.

Indigenous people — Access to justice, education and employment and the right to an adequate standard of living and adequate housing.

Prisoners — The right to be free from torture and ill treatment.

Homeless people — The right to adequate and secure housing; pathways into and out of homelessness.

The working poor and the unemployed — The right to a basic standard of living, the right to employment and adequate social security.

People living with HIV/AIDS — Millions around the world have to cope with the suffering and stigmatisation that is brought about by this potentially fatal illness. The dignity and health of HIV positive individuals is compromised through their marginalisation and their inability to access anti-retroviral drugs. Discussion could include such issues as the rights to health and affordable treatment, privacy, information, education, equality before the law, and work, as well as freedom from discrimination and violence. Women and the impact of abuse are a prominent concern, as violence is a leading factor in the spread of the HIV virus.

People suffering from financial exclusion — A lack of access to financial services can lead to significant exclusion. It ‘prevents people from fully participating in the economic and social structures of mainstream communities’.1 This issue raises questions regarding the extent to which a right to financial services and financial information exist and which groups are marginalised by way of financial exclusion.

People living in country areas — This is social exclusion based on geographical location. It raises questions about how rights are ensured for people in remote locations, and to what extent the social, economic and political rights of such people are compromised by their location. This includes rights to adequate services, such as education, health and social services, as well as the potential for people to participate actively in the political process.

The gay and lesbian communities — Discussion may include the right to freedom from discrimination, equality before the law and equal access to services.

Refugees — Including the right to seek asylum and, more fundamentally, the right to freedom of person in the country of destination, as well as the assurance of basic rights such as health, education and legal assistance.

Ethnic and religious minorities — In multicultural communities such as Australia, we are witnessing increased marginalisation and stigmatisation of certain ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Muslim community. In what ways are ethnic minorities marginalised and excluded from the wider Australian population, and how does this impact on their enjoyment of basic human rights?

People living with disabilities — In what ways are people with disabilities discriminated against and to what extent does this compromise their standard of living and enjoyment of fundamental human rights?

Strategies for combating exclusion and marginality

This Special Issue topic aims to present and discuss viable strategies for countering the human rights encroachments that are suffered by those who are excluded or who live on the margins of society. In light of the weakening of the welfare state, it is important to explore new ways for governments to restore the dignity and security of those who are marginalised and to prevent further marginality.

Articles could consider various models, programs and policies that have been, or could be, implemented to aid and support marginalised individuals and groups. This may involve a critique of previous programs and policies, whether instigated by government, NGOs or community based groups. The aim is to examine the viability and effectiveness of these approaches in countering social exclusion, producing lasting change and securing basic human rights for the marginalised. A comparative approach in discussing strategies is encouraged, particularly in looking at how different states or groups view exclusion and marginality and what actions they have undertaken to counter these conditions.

Please sent submissions to the following address:

The Editors Australian Journal of Human Rights Faculty of Law University of New South Wales Sydney 2052 AUSTRALIA

It would be appreciated if all papers were submitted by

28 February 2006

If you have any questions or require further information, please contact Barbara Slusarczyk, Student Editor, on 0421 995 323 or by email at <>.

1 Connolly C and Hajaj K ‘Financial services and social exclusion’ Financial Services Consumer Policy Centre, University of NSW, Chifley Research Centre, March 2001, p 4

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