Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

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The Multilateral Human Rights System: Systemic Challenge or Healthy Contestation?

Author(s): Jolyon Ford

This essay explores some of the parameters and merits of a putative argument that the announcement of June 19, 2018 that the United States would withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council might most properly be understood as but one manifestation of a wider political backlash within the US (and indeed other Western democracies) against the multilateral human rights system epitomized by the Council. There are two prongs to this argument. First, populist-nationalist political sentiment at home simultaneously fuels and is fanned by strident high-profile diplomatic critiques (or even rejections) of global bodies such as the Council. Second, the nature and force of this backlash constitutes a systemic threat to the future of the post-1945 rules-based international order, especially since it comes mostly from the superpower whose values-based rhetoric and leadership has perhaps done most to advance the global human rights agenda in the modern era.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Technology, Law, Governance and Development, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy

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Backlash against a Rules-based International Human Rights Order? An Australian Perspective

Author(s): Jolyon Ford

This article engages with the question of whether we can identify a recent populist political ‘backlash’ within some Western democracies against the institutions, instruments and even the ideas of the multilateral (United Nations and treaty-based) human rights system. An associated question concerns what the implications of any such phenomenon might be for the universalist human rights system (or at least Australia’s participation therein), and perhaps the implications for the wider global legal order of which the human rights project has, for decades now, been such an important part. A second question-bundle is whether we can discern signs recently that Australia may be one of those ‘backlash’ states, and what systemic implications this may have for Australia’s oft-repeated fidelity to, and reliance upon, the international rules-based order. Sitting above or behind these questions is the broader issue of whether the concept of ‘backlash’ is useful at all in explaining or analysing recent developments, and/or what modifications or qualifiers it might need. This article attempts to address these questions, focussing first on exploring ways to approach, unpack refine or re-frame the ‘backlash’ concept. It then takes the resulting frame(s) to provide a general overview of recent Australian practice and rhetoric. This is so as to advance a useful characterisation of Australia’s conduct, even if it does not in a ‘Yes/No sense’ meet Sunstein’s definition of systemic-level ‘backlash’ intended to reject a legal order and remove its legal force.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Technology, Law, Governance and Development, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy

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Navigating the Backlash against Global Law and Institutions

Author(s): Jeremy Farrall, Jolyon Ford, Imogen Saunders

This article considers the recent ‘Backlash’ against global norms and institutions fuelled by various contemporary political developments within and between states. Understanding the shape, significance and drivers of this phenomenon better is a pre-requisite to developing and analysing possible responses by Australia and other states. The recent rise of populism and ‘illiberal democracy’ especially within major Western democracies has challenged the longstanding and widespread commitment of those states to the rules-based order. These phenomena have also eroded the traditional global leadership, in multilateral forums, of key powers including UN permanent members the United States and the United Kingdom. The populations of these and other states have responded to perceptions of economic and political disempowerment by pressuring political representatives to focus their energies domestically. In order both to appeal and respond to domestic political forces, leaders in these states have sought to target or sometimes scapegoat the international institutions that have hitherto been so useful to their foreign policy agenda. This article examines the consequences of understanding the current populist moment as part of a Backlash against global law and institutions and the ramifications of the Backlash frame for international peace and security. It also considers the implications of the Backlash frame for the international human rights system, the impact of the turn inward for global trade and finance and the Backlash against environmental norms.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Technology, Law, Governance and Development, Legal History and Ethnology, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy

Defining 'Supply Chain' for Reporting Under a Modern Slavery Act for Australia

Author(s): Jolyon Ford

Australia proposed a Modern Slavery Act based on the UK's 2015 model, requiring larger firms to report annually on steps taken to address the risk of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. This working paper has two main arguments. First, the approach to defining (or not) ‘supply chain’ is not a mere technical drafting issue, but instead can be seen as going to the overall purpose of this regulation and as a metaphor for more general design philosophies or approaches in this sphere. Second, an Australian statute should refrain from any attempt at a statutory definition of ‘supply chains’ or any definition in ancillary regulations; however, authorities should offer reporting entities far more extensive policy guidance than the UK model has done. Aside from the generic drafting difficulty of finding a stable, commercially sensible definition, the paper explains at least three reasons why the statutory scheme should not seek to define ‘supply chains.’

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Technology, Law, Governance and Development, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy

Defining 'Supply Chain' for Reporting Under a Modern Slavery Act for Australia

Author(s): Jolyon Ford

Australia proposed a Modern Slavery Act based on the UK's 2015 model, requiring larger firms to report annually on steps taken to address the risk of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. This working paper has two main arguments. First, the approach to defining (or not) ‘supply chain’ is not a mere technical drafting issue, but instead can be seen as going to the overall purpose of this regulation and as a metaphor for more general design philosophies or approaches in this sphere. Second, an Australian statute should refrain from any attempt at a statutory definition of ‘supply chains’ or any definition in ancillary regulations; however, authorities should offer reporting entities far more extensive policy guidance than the UK model has done. Aside from the generic drafting difficulty of finding a stable, commercially sensible definition, the paper explains at least three reasons why the statutory scheme should not seek to define ‘supply chains.’

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Technology, Law, Governance and Development, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy

Empty Rituals or Workable Models? Towards a Business and Human Rights Treaty

Author(s): Jolyon Ford

In this article, we do not seek to engage directly with ongoing discussions regarding the potential merits, and conversely the risks, of seeking to conclude a Business and Human Rights (BHR) treaty at all. Instead, our aim is to promote a greater focus, in the context of the BHR treaty debate, on regulatory effectiveness. That is, we believe that proposals for a BHR treaty should be assessed in terms of their likely efficacy, relative to other available forms of regulatory intervention, in advancing effective enjoyment of human rights in the business context. Whereas many contributions to the BHR treaty debate so far have explicitly or implicitly advocated one or other treaty model they have side-stepped the difficult question of how practically effective these models might be in influencing the conduct of duty bearers.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Technology, Law, Governance and Development, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy

Regulating Business for Peace

Regulating Business for Peace: The United Nations, the Private Sector, and Post-Conflict Recovery

Author(s): Jolyon Ford

This book addresses gaps in thinking and practice on how the private sector can both help and hinder the process of building peace after armed conflict. It argues that weak governance in fragile and conflict-affected societies creates a need for international authorities to regulate the social impact of business activity in these places as a special interim duty. Policymaking should seek appropriate opportunities to engage with business while harnessing its positive contributions to sustainable peace. However, scholars have not offered frameworks for what is considered 'appropriate' engagement or properly theorised techniques for how best to influence responsible business conduct. United Nations peace operations are peak symbols of international regulatory responsibilities in conflict settings, and debate continues to grow around the private sector's role in development generally. This book is the first to study how peace operations have engaged with business to influence its peace-building impact.

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Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Updated:  24 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team