Research Seminar 4 November 2020

Dr John Azzi: Fulfilling Australia’s international obligations under the modern domestic approach to treaty interpretation

This paper argues that the modern domestic approach to treaty interpretation recently propounded by the High Court in NBGM v Minister for Immigration (2006) 231 CLR 52 undermines fulfilment of Australia’s international obligations. As will be shown, it is not only contrary to international legal norms, it is akin to the controversial treaty override practice of the United States.

Examining recent High Court decisions expounding Australia’s international obligations in relation to refugees, human rights and taxation, this paper demonstrates that in each case purpose and context have been assessed strictly and narrowly by reference to legislative intention without proper recourse to the relevant treaty, including related supplementary materials informing its interpretation and application.

Simon Levett: Rethinking the Source in Journalist Source Protection in War: Towards a Framework in International Law

In 2018 and 2019, I conducted empirical research for my PhD on “the Status of Special Protection of Journalists Reporting on Conflict in International Law”, interviewing 39 media professionals and media experts in Australia, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. In this Paper, I am pivoting in my research from the status of the war correspondent reporting on conflict towards the status of their sources. The disclosure of the identity of sources through Wikileaks in 2010 and the potential disclosure from the Australian Federal Police raids on the ABC in 2019 affirmed the vulnerability of the Afghani source despite the relevance of journalist source protection. However, in different contexts, the perspective of sources as passive victims of human rights abuses neglects the agency of the sources; government and military actors are an important source of information for journalists, war correspondents depend upon sources for their livelihoods and sources are an increasing important part of the communication supply chain. Indeed, sources exclude the role of the war correspondent through providing eyewitness accounts as a new gatekeeper of information. This Paper finishes with some comparative reflections on the role of the United States Supreme Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), where the rule of the law provides differentiated protections for the war correspondent and their sources.