For years, Indonesia has been plagued by so-called “elastic laws” – a set of bills that can see a person indicted for violating poorly defined provisions, such as defaming an individual or group, religious blasphemy, committing treason, or inciting public disorder. Activists have pointed out
In May, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to include an item about “the Responsibility to Protect” on the Assembly’s annual agenda. On one view, the resolution is not a big deal. There are more than 100 standing items on the annual agenda, on topics ranging from
As major social-networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have increased their efforts at moderation to crack down on hateful and extremist content, they have become less attractive to adherents of the far right. In response, new platforms belonging to the right-wing alternative-technology
A video recently surfaced on social media in Papua New Guinea, featuring a group of about 20 men, gathered around their apparent leader, declaring war on Indonesia.
“People of East Sepik,” the leader says, referring to one of the two provinces which stretch along PNG’s northern coastline
Since his death on 13 April, tributes to former Australian foreign minister and leader of the federal opposition Andrew Peacock have flowed from across the political divide. He has been remembered as a huge figure who left an “indelible” mark on Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Former Liberal
During an event to launch the China Story Yearbook at the National Press Club in Canberra on 21 April, the Director of the Australian National University’s China in the World Centre, Professor Jane Golley, stated that she had received an anonymous “scholarly” article that “debunks much of
It’s been almost three months since Myanmar’s military junta seized power from the democratically elected government. More than 700 protesters have been killed, and more than 3000 arrested. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said that the military is likely committing
For much of his presidency, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo has taken a mercantilist view of foreign policy, pushing the country’s diplomats to promote trade and investment while keeping their heads below the parapet on most thorny international issues. Indonesia’s inward-looking approach compounded
For decades, Thailand has served as the primary regional hub for UN agencies and programs, international humanitarian organisations and advocacy groups. In comparison to their neighbors in mainland Southeast Asia, Thai people have enjoyed a relatively open civic environment. Thailand has long been a
Last month, a Japanese district court for the first time ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional. The verdict by the Sapporo District Court was a result of simultaneous lawsuits against the nation demanding marriage equality as well as compensation for psychological
Life in Singapore during the pandemic has become about tracking, tracking, tracking. Wherever one goes, one has to scan QR codes that log entry into malls, restaurants, shops and office buildings. For those who have just arrived on the island, it might seem like an uncomfortable intrusion into
When China’s nationalist outrage machine took aim at Swedish fashion giant H&M in late March, one could be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu. Campaigns to boycott foreign products in China are nothing new: it has been barely a year since the country went after the National Basketball
A recent ban on girls’ public singing has demonstrated the continuing struggle between modernising and conservative forces in Afghanistan. Speculation on social media suggested it might also be a sign of the government testing the public mood of what rights it is prepared to sacrifice in order to
One of the many consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is that other critical heath issues have fallen off the agenda in Australia and globally – including female genital mutilation (FGM). A lack of attention to gendered healthcare issues over the last year, such as FGM, could have serious impacts
Corruption is one of the biggest challenges in Papua New Guinea, according to Transparency International PNG. In 2020, the government successfully established the Independent Commission Against Corruption to protect government systems and provide whistleblowers a mechanism for reporting complaints.
In an unexpected announcement, Indonesian President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo this month called upon Indonesia’s military and police leadership to “improve supervision to ensure that the implementation of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law can be in compliance with the
In remarks delivered at the US State Department in early February, President Joe Biden championed the rule of law as part of “America’s abiding advantage” and spelled out his vision for a nation leading “not just by the example of our power but by the power of our example”. In its swing
When a business manager is willing to spend US$200,000 to send home five employees whose contracts have expired and bring five colleagues to replace them on the spot, later telling a reporter the cost was the least of their worries, you can be sure a crisis is involved.
In this case, it is on the
Australia is a peaceful, prosperous nation that vocalises its support for human rights – and yet last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, one after another, countries voiced their concerns about serious human rights violations that are being committed in Australia, particularly relating
Another season of turmoil has swept politics in Papua New Guinea. The Supreme Court has ruled the recent budget sitting to be unlawful, ordering the parliament to resume on Monday while the prospect a no confidence motion in Prime Minister James Marape hangs in the air.
But for all the raucous
Last week, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted on Twitter a fake image which portrayed an Australian soldier with a bloody knife next to a child holding a lamb. The Australian government was outraged, describing it as “disinformation”.
This is just the latest episode of the
A civil war has been going on in the Philippines for over 50 years, waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with the armed guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA). The rebels boast a strength spread across 73 out of the country’s 81 provinces. Every president since the conflict
Fue el estado – “It was the state”. So goes one of the most repeated slogans of the movement to demand the truth of what happened to 43 students of the Ayotzinapa rural teacher’s college who disappeared on the night of 26 September 2014 from the city of Iguala, in the state of
Twenty years ago, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325, a landmark to formally recognised the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls. Yet this year, there is no new resolution to mark the anniversary of what became the Women, Peace and
Twenty-four crew members of the Al Messilah, a livestock carrier under Kuwaiti flag, tested positive last week for Covid-19 at Fremantle Port in Western Australia. They are among the few cases where maritime crews have tested positive.
Despite assumptions that ships are an especially
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines addressed the United Nations General Assembly last month, the first time he has done so since he assumed office in 2016. During his speech, Duterte said that the “Philippines will continue to protect the human rights of its
We all desperately wanted Myanmar to be a democratic success story, myself included. In 2015, I witnessed the historical national election when the Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party won enough seats to form government.
Five years later, on 8 November, people in Myanmar will again go to the
As early as April, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte set a P50 million (A$1.45 million) reward for anyone who comes up with a vaccine for Covid-19. Since then, Duterte has assured the public that inoculations for the virus will soon be readily available. The administration went so far as to
On 17 September, the Information of Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China released a White Paper, “Employment and Labour Rights in Xinjiang”, detailing the Chinese Communist Party’s “proactive employment policies” in the region. The paper is clearly part of China
Thirty years ago, Francis Fukuyama sprang to international prominence by suggesting that history might be at an end. Ever since, lesser academic lights have queued up to tell anyone who would listen why he was wrong. Less thought has been given, however, to what Fukuyama was actually right about,
Hip-hop artists have long used rap music to launch cultural protests about social injustice, police brutality, inequality and discrimination.
Songs such as Tupac Shakur’s “Trapped”, which talks about seclusion of black youths in American neighbourhoods, NWA’s “F**k tha Police” or
What is the relationship between online and offline extremism? What types of data should be examined in order to understand this relationship? What is the full scope of violent extremist actions? These are all key questions that extremism researchers are trying to answer.
Part of the answer may
Earlier this month, days after Manila went back into a hard lockdown due to a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, unidentified assailants slipped past the Philippine capital’s strict quarantine measures and approached the home of Randall Echanis, a left-wing party leader and longtime activist. When
When you have the privilege of working in international relations, there are some experiences that stay with you for life. There are the places you go and the people you meet. Conversations that start at the roundtable, continue into dinner, and often go late into the night. At airports and hotels,
In this episode of COVIDcast, Lowy Institute senior fellow Richard McGregor sat down with Dexter Roberts to discuss his new book, The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, The Factory and the Future of the World. Roberts was based in China for more than two decades reporting for Bloomberg
In the early hours of 3 January 2020, missiles fired from US drones killed ten people near Baghdad airport. Drone strikes by the US are almost commonplace these days, but what made this particular strike noteworthy was its target: General Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, a unit of
The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting democracies in the Asia-Pacific region in ways that demand Australian attention.
The ability to weather a crisis of this magnitude depends upon partnerships and collaboration – economic, social and political – with key countries in the region. These
Fifty-eight years after Samoa became an independent state, it has been promised a new court giving Samoan customs a rightful place in law. It is worth considering why has this has been declared necessary
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has told the nation that Samoan customs will be
On 26 June, leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet virtually for their 36th semi-annual summit. The meeting is expected to include a focus on the re-opening of borders and economies post-pandemic, as well as discussions about the continuing tensions in the South
On 4 June, Wanchalearm Satsaksit – a self-exiled Thai political activist living in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh – vanished. He was almost certainly abducted. CCTV footage shows him taken away in a black car. His sister, who was on the phone with him when he was seized, told BBC Thai that he
In April, the UN Security Council issued a statement endorsing the UN Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire in Yemen to better enable a response to Covid-19. The Council recognised that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen made the country “exceptionally vulnerable”, and that any further
In reaction to the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis – its brutality captured on video – mass demonstrations arose across 140 American cities and around the world this week. The protests have been, and continue to be, dominated by people peacefully holding signs that read
In October 2016, women from across the African continent met at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with a charter of demands pushing for women’s right to use, control, own, inherit and dispose land. The Women2Kilimanjaro hike’s demand for more inclusive land rights proved not to be in
In the health and epidemiological challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, countries have had little choice but to introduce strict measures to contain its spread, banning travel, imposing lockdowns, releasing prisoners en masse and bringing other actions unthinkable under ordinary
For some people living in the Ampang district in eastern Kuala Lumpur, self-isolation is nothing new. The area is known for its concentration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, nestled in the grimy apartments and neighbourhoods of this former tin mining centre, and they haven't been going out for a
When the world is grappling with the kind of calamity few of us have experienced before, it can be easy to forget other crises. Climate change springs to mind. So, too, does the record level of human displacement around the world, a problem largely driven by conflict.
That brings us to the long-
If the 15th-century philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli were alive today, he would surely have recognised the power of surveillance technologies that states such as China, Singapore, South Korea, and others have adopted in the fight against Covid-19. Patrol robots and drones, CCTV cameras and
While the global community struggles to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, Samoa is embroiled in a constitutional crisis. The South Pacific nation is frequently lauded for its good governance and regional leadership. The current crisis, however, has exposed fault lines around race and identity that
As coronavirus spreads, government spending, and lots of it, has been the order of the day. Most of the analysis has focused on the economic impact of these responses, with scant attention paid to the impact on gender. Yet the pandemic has exposed the gendered fault lines of the economy,