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Speaking Principles to Power


The global rules-based order has come under extreme pressure in 2016, with recent elections and referenda results being read as a rejection of the status quo. However, global rules and norms are critical to ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, appropriate human rights standards and global cooperation.

While many states claim to cherish a global rules-based order, state accountability is often non-existent. For example, pressing issues like nuclear non-proliferation and human rights abuses are not universally endorsed or enforced. This leaves countries in support of the rules-based order, like Australia, questioning the effectiveness of good global citizenship. Should Australia continue its historically positive attitude toward global multilateral treaties, or will the world’s new political climate become too hostile for reliable cooperation on transnational issues? 

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG FAIIA, former Justice of the High Court of Australia, spoke at the 2016 AIIA National Conference on the topic of principles in global politics. He discussed these issues in an interview with Ella Pyman of the AIIA’s National Office on the sidelines of the conference. 

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG FAIIA is a former justice of the High Court of Australia, where he served from 1996 to 2009. In 2013 he was appointed a commissioner of the UNAIDS Commission on Sustainable Health and lead the Commission of Inquiry on Alleged Human Rights Violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea until 2014. He is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Access to Essential Healthcare.

Interviewed by Ella Pyman

Filmed by Brendan Martin

Published November 22, 2016

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