CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
(Editor's note: Hilary Charlesworth will be available to meet with members
of the media from 3 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the Old Public
Library, 307 East College Street)
Australian lawyer lectures about gender inequities of human rights
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Hilary Cunliffe-Charlesworth will present a lecture
"Women and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," at 8 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Levitt Auditorium at the University of Iowa College
Charlesworth appears at the University of Iowa as part of the long-running
UI Global Focus: Human Rights '98 Lecture Series events. The lecture is
free and open to the public.
Charlesworth is the only HR '98 lecturer who is offering specifically
a woman's perspective about the historic U.N. Declaration of Human Rights
that implored all governments treat and recognize the dignity and inalienable
rights of all persons. She is a law professor at the Australian National
University in Canberra and is a leading international lawyer who was recently
appointed the university's director of the Centre for International and
Public Law. The prominent female legal scholar says the Declaration doesn't
go far enough in offering equal liberties to women.
"The Declaration has been problematic because it was drafted with
a male's perspective in mind, and it really doesn't take into account women's
lives. During my lecture I will suggest ways to make the Declaration have
a greater effect for women," she said, but she doesn't advocate rewriting
"It's not realistic to revise the document. I think it would be
worse if rewritten by the U.N.," Charlesworth says. She says the 50-year-old
document could be interpreted better to make it "more hospitable to
Charlesworth, a well-published author who in 1998 co-authored a leading
coursebook with UI law professor Burns Weston, "International Law
and World Order." Charlesworth is known throughout Australia for her
support of that country's aboriginal peoples who are black. There has been
an ongoing division between supporters of aboriginal landowners who were
displaced by Australian Europeans who conquered the country more than 100
years ago. The major sticking point is in 1998, Australia's High Court,
equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court, denied aboriginals' right to recoup
farmland that was taken from them through earlier European conquests. Australian
Prime Minister John Howard supported the Court's decision, referred to
as the "Wik decision."
Charlesworth says Howard is wrong in his view and says the law must
recognize aboriginals' land was taken by force and that the law must make
amends for it.
Currently, Charlesworth is a scholar-in-residence at Washington and
Lee University at Lexington, Va., where she teaches a theory of international
law course. She is writing a book about feminism and international law.