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The Fifth Estate

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Human Rights Watch

In the past year alone, we’ve seen escalating international refugee crises, millions of people caught amidst conflict and violence from Syria to South Sudan, and innumerable atrocities committed by armed groups and states — the global response to which has been deemed ineffective at best. Australia’s own treatment of asylum seekers has also been shown to breach multiple international human rights conventions.

How do we exercise, assert and defend human rights when they’re under threat from so many angles?

In this edition of the Fifth Estate, host Sally Warhaft will speak with Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch (Washington DC) and Julian Burnside, human rights and refugee advocate, about how we can form effective responses to human rights breaches.

What international emergencies and war zones are the current focus of Human Rights Watch, and why? What are the emerging trends and challenges in human rights advocacy, both globally and locally? And with Australia's chequered record — from Terra Nullius to widespread institutionalised abuse to immigration policy, and a prime minister who is ‘sick of being lectured to by the UN’ — what clout do we wield in the global arena?


Follow the discussion on Twitter with #FifthEstate.


Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, the Fifth Estate, now in its sixth year. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Portrait of Tom Porteous

Tom Porteous

Tom Porteous is the Deputy Program Director at Human Rights Watch, and is based in Washington DC. He joined Human Rights Watch in 2006 as the London director responsible for communications and advocacy in the United Kingdom. Porteous has a background in journalism, diplomacy, and UN peacekeeping. 

Portrait of Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside AO QC is an Australian barrister who specialises in commercial litigation and is also deeply involved in human rights work, in particular in relation to refugees.

The Fifth Estate

Our long-running current affairs series, The Fifth Estate, is a mainstay of the Wheeler Centre programme. With our in-house news anchor Sally Warhaft at the helm, it's a series of in-depth conversations with guests from the world of politics, culture, journalism and international relations. It's free, it's fortnightly and it's rigorous long-form interviewing at its best.

Guests are announced in the weeks prior to events, so keep an eye on our website (or the Wheeler Weekly newsletter) for updates. Subscribe to the popular Fifth Estate podcast – or book a (free) ticket – for expert analysis on today's key debates.



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