Peering through human rights-tinted glasses

2016 The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law / King & Wood Mallesons Annual Lecture

Peering through human rights-tinted glasses

Edward Santow, Human Rights CommissionerEd Santow
Australian Human Rights Commission

Date: Friday 7th October 2016
Time: 1pm - 2pm
Venue: The Village Roadshow Theatrette, The State Library
328 Swanston Street, Melbourne

RSVP: Register here

Public event - all welcome

What role should international human rights law play in addressing Australia’s most difficult social questions? Does human rights law provide a comprehensive answer to those questions, or does it provide a way to arrive at that answer? This speech will consider these questions by reference to some pressing issues, such as the proposal for marriage equality, the treatment of people in detention and the debate on free speech.


Edward Santow BA LLB (Hons) (Sydney) LLM (Hons) (Cambridge) is the Human Rights Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The AHRC is Australia’s independent national human rights institution.

As Human Rights Commissioner, Ed’s role is to promote human rights by operating at the intersection between government, business and civil society. The focus of Ed’s work is to protect longstanding human rights recognised at common law and international law. These include: equality; freedom of expression and association; and procedural fairness.

Ed has particular expertise in human rights, administrative and constitutional law, discrimination and freedom of information.

Ed is also a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Australia Pro Bono Centre.

From 2010-2016, Ed was the chief executive officer of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). PIAC is a leading Australian non-profit organisation that promotes human rights through strategic litigation, policy development and education.

Ed was previously a Senior Lecturer at UNSW Law School and a research director at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law. He has worked at the Australian Law Reform Commission, in a Sydney law firm and as associate to the Hon Justice Heydon AC QC of the High Court.

In 2009, Ed was presented with an Australian Leadership Award.

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