LAWYERS NEED to make causes like the promotion of human rights more relevant to society, Shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon told an audience at a trust memorial dinner in Melbourne recently.
The world has changed over the last 30 years, Roxon said. We are now at a point where the language of human rights is labelled either as elitist or “stuck in an old fashioned class warfare”.
Questioning whether it was the community that had changed or the issues focusing our minds, Roxon said society’s most passionate debates now seem to be about ASIO’s powers or refugees.
“These are important issues, undoubtedly, but do not have as widespread relevance as some other issues, or as an issue like violence against women — one of a number of problems that hasn’t changed enough over the last 30 years,” she said.
Roxon asked whether the community’s interest in human rights and law reform diminished, or whether “we as politicians, activists, commentators and, especially, lawyers [are] simply not picking up the new issues and articulating them in an accessible language”.
She said our community is derided for being selfish, but she questioned whether one reason for this might be the failure of lawyers and others to make the promotion of human rights more relevant.