Australia and Asia: Regulatory Perspectives on continuity and change

A conference on Australia and Asia, Regulatory Perspectives, hosted by Monash Business School, Governance and Regulation Research Network (GARNET) and the Asia-Pacific Regulation Research Group, will be held on Wednesday 17thNovember 2021

Contributing to Veronica Taylor’s 1997 edited volume Asian Laws Through Australian Eyes (Sydney, LBC Information Services), Malcolm Smith presented Australians as largely ignorant of Asian legal systems, or as tending to view them inferior to their own.  A quarter of a century later, have Australian comparative lawyers moved on from the orientalist debates of the 1990s?  Is Australia any closer to understanding the complexity, diversity and (often rapidly) evolving nature of Asian legal systems?  These are the broad questions this workshop aims to explore.   

Assertions that Australia’s future prosperity is tied to the region sit uncomfortably alongside claims that ‘Asian’ legal systems lack the reliability and impartiality necessary for full participation in a globalised world.[1]  Underlying assumptions that economic prosperity would bring growing acceptance of rule of law fundamentals including a free press and independent judiciary have also been unsettled.[2]   China’s ability to participate in and benefit from global trade has not, it seems, been impeded by its lack of an independent judiciary or a free press.  Nor has China’s economic success resulted in growing acceptance of rule of law institutions.

While China is the current preoccupation of Australian lawmakers, debates on rule of law versus the socialist legality of ‘rule by law’ are alive and vigorous throughout the region.[3]  Australia’s own ostensible commitment to the rule of law is articulated in a 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper; and forms a key feature of bilateral foreign aid programs. Despite the rhetoric, however, actual development assistance for legal and judicial development in the Asia Pacific reached a high around 2010-12; and has since fallen back.   

Only 11 of Australia’s 40 domestic universities offer Asian Studies courses in 2021.  The picture for Asian language education in schools is even worse, with a declining proportion of students at all levels studying one of the four key Asian languages.  So far as the study of Asian law is concerned, by 2020 there were only 34 ‘permanent’ academics based in Australian law schools with a primary focus on Asian law, most of whom remain concentrated at just five of the 44 law schools in Australia.[4]

Despite valiant efforts by leading Asian and comparative law scholars in Australia (including those involved in establishing the Australian Journal of Asian Law), the methodological project in Asian regulatory studies remains under-developed.  Australian scholarly exchange with Asia has been further challenged by Covid-19, and by political developments in Asian nations.  Regional research-related travel and scholarly exchanges have been abandoned or stalled, while budgetary demands throughout an economically stricken region have relegated comparative legal knowledge and understanding to the bottom of funding priority lists. 

This workshop invites papers which engage with and address the theoretical, methodological and pedagogical project of comparative legal studies in Asia. Papers are invited on topics including, but not limited to:

  • To what extent have legal epistemologies evolved and changed since the Asian Financial crisis of 1997?   How have patterns of cross-pollination of regional legal epistemologies evolved and changed? 
  • Have research methodologies in regulatory studies moved on from the comparative law debates of the 1990s? Are there different, priorities and resources?  Are there different patterns of scholarly exchange?
  • What impact have political, economic and social changes, including those associated with globalisation, had on the practice of regulatory studies and pedagogy in Asia?  How has the relationship between politics and regulation evolved? 
  • How have regulatory approaches been shaped by and sought to shape regional engagement at different levels in different contexts? 
  • What is the role of Asian diasporas in the formation of diverse regulatory frameworks in Australia?  What is the role of Australian ‘soft power’ initiatives in shaping regulatory systems in Asia?
  • Case studies from Asia-Pacific jurisdictions of evolving approaches towards 21st century regulatory challenges.

Keynote Speakers: Professor Tim Lindsey, Melbourne Law School; Professor Veronica Taylor, ANU; Professor Melissa Crouch, UNSW

For more information and to register see here

Global Citizenship and the importance of multilingual skills

The 2021 Japanese Studies Association of Australia Conference includes a roundtable on “Advocating Language: Global Citizenship and the importance of multilingual skills”. The panel includes A/Professor Beatrice Trefalt, JSAA President, Monash; Ambassador of Japan, Yamagami Shingo; Professor Michael Wesley, Deputy Vice Chancellor International, University of Melbourne; Professor Keijiro Suga, Meiji University, Japan; Professor Melissa Crouch, Law Faculty, University of New South Wales, ASAA Vice President; and Chair Associate Professor Carol Hayes, ANU.

The roundtable is based on the idea that our collective work aims to produce independent, proactive, and critical language users who gain essential linguistic, cultural, and intellectual skills during their studies, and use those skills to be effective communicators in the community, in business and in government.

Graduate outcomes across Australia increasingly claim we are educating global citizens, creating graduates with flexible thinking and intercultural skills that many see as the backbone of future careers and life in a global society. It seems that current priorities (governmental and institutional) potentially create a tension between this focus on global engagement and an increasingly instrumental monolingual/monocultural focus on shorter term domestic employability skills.

Against this background, the focus of this Roundtable is on the real, in some cases existential, challenges now facing language education and area studies research in the tertiary sector. Its aim is to explore how we can better advocate the need for, and value of, such critical language users – and hence the value of well-focused and effective language programmes.

Roundtable speakers will not just to define the problem, but rather consider what we can do about it.  They will share their own personal experiences and perspectives on the importance and impact of Japanese (and other) language education in universities and beyond in the workplace, as well as their thoughts on key graduate outcomes in our increasingly global world. Finally, we will explore how best we can speak with a united voice to better promote the vital importance of language study in the tertiary sector.

A recording of this session will be available shortly

Conference on Sociolegal Studies in Indonesia

In November, the Faculty of Law of Brawijaya University is hosting the third Indonesian Sociolegal Conference.

On 8 November, there will be a socio-legal methods workshop for early career scholars.

On 10-11 November, there will be a conference on ‘Resilience In The Time Of Crisis: Justice, Access And Participation’. This conference is organised by leading Indonesian sociolegal scholars. It will feature the launch of the Association of Indonesian Socio-legal Studies.

The theme of the conference is as follows: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of life. It is not only as a health crisis but also as a human rights and justice crisis. The needs of justice are increasing where domestic violence, family disputes, and labour disputes have been alarming cases all over the world. However, emergency and quick measures in response to the COVID-19 face new challenges and problems, as they may impact the fundamental rights of people, including the right to a fair trial. How has the court system changed during the pandemic? How and where do we reach out for assistance and help when domestic violence occurs while in lockdown? How has the government responded to ensure the protection of human rights of its citizen? The pandemic has created many justice challenges that need to be addressed.

This conference brings together socio-legal scholars to share ideas and build networks in order to support early career researchers and facilitate research collaborations.

Coaching Clinic Penelitian Sosio legal, 8 November 2021

Bagi mahasiswa/i pasca sarjana, dosen muda atau peneliti multidisiplin yang memiliki minat untuk meneliti sosio legal di bidang hukum perdata, pidana, tata negara, administrasi negara, agraria, adat, internasional dan bidang hukum lain dapat mengikuti Socio Legal Master Class kerja sama Leiden University, PPSL FH UB, SLEEI dan ASSLESI tanggal 8 November 2021.

Selain mendapatkan materi dari Professor Melissa Crouch dari University of New South Wales Australia dan Dr. Ir. Jacqueline Vel dari Leiden University Belanda, para peserta akan mendapatkan sesi pendampingan dari para pakar ASSLESI Professor Sulistyowati Irianto, Dr. Imam Koeswahyono , Dr. Stijn van Huis, Dr. Fachrizal Afandi, Dyah Wirastri, Ph.D., Dr. Rikardo Simarmata, Milda Istiqomah, Ph.D., Lena Hanifah, Ph.D., Dr. Herlambang P. Wiratraman, Dr. Dian Rosita, Yance Arizona, S.H., M.H., M.A., Bivitri Susanti, SH, LLMDaftar dan kirimkan proposal penelitian anda baik dalam Bahasa Indonesia atau Bahasa Inggris ke sebelum tanggal 5 Oktober 2021Peserta terpilih akan mendapatkan kesempatan untuk mengikuti Socio-Legal Join Conference yang bertajuk: “Resilience In The Time Of Crisis: Justice, Access And Participation yang akan diselenggarakan pada tanggal 10-11 November 2021

Open letter to Association of Asian Constitutional Courts on Myanmar

[signatories will be collated until 18 June and then sent to the AACC; to sign click here]

This letter is on behalf of concerned scholars of comparative constitutional law and politics, listed below.

We call on the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions (AACC) to suspend the Constitutional Tribunal of the Union of Myanmar from its membership.

On 1 February 2021, the military staged a coup in Myanmar. This political development has serious and devastating consequences for the future of constitutional democracy in the country. The Civil Disobedience Movement is one of the main civil society groups opposing the military and has widespread public support. The coup not only means that the incoming elected government has been prevented from taking office, but it has also led to thousands of people being unfairly arrested and hundreds of people have been killed, documented by organisations such as the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

On 9 February, the military appointed a new bench of the Constitutional Tribunal. This amounted to the capture of the Constitutional Tribunal by the military.

The AACC was established “to promote the development of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Asian region”. We therefore call upon the AACC to suspend the Constitutional Tribunal from its membership for the duration of military rule in Myanmar and to revoke any invitations to regional meetings or conferences.

Regional and international networks like AACC can play an important role in sending a strong signal to Myanmar’s military that regional judicial networks will not cooperate with the institutions it has created and/or captured.

The Constitutional Tribunal could potentially have played an important role in Myanmar’s political transition post-2011, however, since 2021, the Constitutional Tribunal is squarely under the influence of the military.

The AACC should not cooperate with judicial institutions that are unable to uphold its mandate of promoting constitutional democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the region.

In Myanmar, the National Unity Government (NUG), the body that includes elected representatives and is acknowledged as the main opposition to the military, intends to abolish the 2008 Constitution and work towards a new Constitution that would provide for an independent Constitutional Tribunal under a federal system.

The AACC should publicly show its support for the NUG and its plans for an independent judiciary in a democratic Myanmar.

List of signatories:
Melissa Crouch, Professor, University of New South Wales (Australia)
Theunis Roux, Professor, UNSW Sydney, Australia
Rosalind Dixon, Professor, UNSW Sydney, Australia
Catherine Renshaw, Professor, School of Law, Western Sydney University, Australia
Associate Professor Maartje De Visser, YPH School of Law, Singapore
Martin Krygier, Professor, University of New South Wales (Australia)
Wojciech Sadurski, Professor, University of Sydney (Australia)
Adam Czarnota, Associate Professor, University of Sydney (Australia)
Tom Ginsburg, Professor, University of Chicago (USA)

Jeremy Webber, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria (Canada)

[further signatories to be added here]

Book launch: Comparative Constitutional Law and the Global South

On 18 June 2021, the G&T Centre for Public Law will host a book launch of two edited volumes on constitutionalism in the Global South: Philipp Dann, Michael Riegner and Maxim Bönnemann (eds), The Global South and Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford UP, 2020); and Philipp Dann and Arun K. Thiruvengadam (eds), Democratic Constitutionalism in India and the European Union: Comparing the Law of Democracy in Continental Polities (Edward Elgar, 2021). The event will be chaired by Siddharth Narrain, with a panel including Theunis Roux, Melissa Crouch and Philipp Dann.

. To register see here

Law, Justice and Policing under Myanmar’s Military Coup

Webinar, Tuesday, 22 June, 2021, 9:30 – 11.00 (CEST), hosted by Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) and Oxford University – register here

In the resistance to the military coup in Myanmar, protesters have frequently hoisted placards reading ‘we want justice’ and ‘justice for Myanmar’. Demands for justice sit alongside calls for democracy and an end to decades of military dominance in Myanmar politics, which has also extended to the official justice system – the courts and the police. With the increasingly violent crackdowns and arbitrary arrests of civilians by the security forces, it has become clear that the courts and the police are with few exceptions ready to compromise with the rule of law and citizen rights to follow the army’s commands. Even before the coup, the official justice system was largely associated with injustice and mistrusted by ordinary citizens, who predominantly preferred to access justice through informal and customary systems. This mistrust can be expected to have grown substantially since the coup, reflecting a strong divergence between popular demands for justice and how the official, military-controlled judiciary is enforcing law.  Since the coup on 1 February the military has used a legal discourse and employed notions of law and order in their justifications for the coup and the crackdowns on civilian resistance. How is this playing out, and how are we to understand this usage in the present situation and through a historical lens? And are there people within the judiciary and the police who are ready to oppose the military junta, and in what ways may this affect the resistance more broadly? Another set of important questions regards how justice is understood and articulated among ordinary citizens’ who oppose the coup? How does the struggle against the military’s injustices feed into revolutionary aspirations for a new federal democracy and how do people imagine an alternative justice system? What form of transitional justice would be desirable in Myanmar in the long run?

These questions will be discussed by Myanmar experts at this webinar co-organised by the Danish Institute for International Studies and Oxford University as part of the Thanakha International Webinar Series Burma/ Myanmar.


Helene Maria Kyed, Danish Institute for International Studies

Khin Mar Mar Kyi, Oxford University

Nick Cheesman, Australian National University

Myat Thet Thitsar, Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation

Chinese Law and Development

At this year’s Law & Society Association conference, there will be two roundtables on Chinese Law and Development.

China has emerged as the champion of economic globalization through the export of its goods and services. Yet there is little empirical basis through which to evaluate the effects of Chinese globalization or with which to theorize its broader importance. This roundtable features scholars from a number of jurisdictions who provide diverse perspectives on the question of China’s approach to transnational ordering, its “model” of development, and its impact on host states. In line with this year’s theme of “Crisis, Healing, and Re-Imagining,” this roundtable will provide critical assessments of the interaction between Chinese companies, investors, lawyers, and officials and the legal and regulatory systems of host states, as well as with the existing international economic order.

Roundtable I 

Ha Do (Oxford) – Vietnam 

Irna Hofman (Oxford) – Tajikistan  

Miriam Driessen (Oxford) – Ethiopia  

Michelle Ratton Sanchez Badin (FGV Direito SP) – Brazil 

Fabio Morosini (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul) – Brazil  

Chair: Matthew Erie (Oxford) 

Roundtable II 

Won Kidane (Seattle) – Ethiopia/Sino-African dispute resolution 

Trang (Mae) Nguyen (Temple) – Cambodia/Vietnam 

Melissa Crouch (UNSW) – Myanmar  

Aziz Ismatov (Nagoya) – Uzbekistan  

Uche Ewelukwa (Arkansas) – Nigeria/international investment law 

Chair: Matthew Erie (Oxford) 

See the LSA conference portal for the recordings

Politics in Action 2021: Updates from Southeast Asia

The annual Politics in Action forum by Sydney’s Southeast Asia Centre brings political updates from Southeast Asia to researchers and practitioners from across the disciplines and beyond. Drawing upon expertise from around the world, these presentations will provide up-to-date information on developments in Southeast Asia relevant to scholars, students, practitioners and the general public.

In this public forum, invited experts will provide an analysis of the current political situation in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and discuss the broader implications of events in these countries for our region.

In 2021, the lineup of speakers includes:

  • Cambodia – Dr Astrid Norén-Nilsson (University of Lund)
  • Indonesia – Dr Burhanuddin Muhtadi (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University)
  • Myanmar – Professor Melissa Crouch (UNSW Sydney)
  • The Philippines – Professor Maria Ela L. Atienza (University of the Philippines-Diliman)
  • Singapore – Dr Elvin Ong (National University of Singapore) 
  • Thailand – Professor Duncan McCargo (University of Copenhagen)

When: Wednesday 5 May & Thursday 6 May 2021

All videos recorded as part of Politics in Action 2021 will be made available for public viewing on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel from the 5th of May 2021 onwards. 

Postgraduate Session: Welcome to the ASAA

Are you a postgraduate student in Australia conducting research on Asia? The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) can help you in building your career and profile as a researcher, whether you’re an Honours, Masters or PhD student. With a membership of between 280-500, the ASAA is one of the largest organisations around the world and the peak academic body in Australia promoting and supporting research on Asia. You will also have a chance to meet the ASAA Councillors including the postgraduate councillor.
When: Thursday 29 April, 12:30pm – 1:30pm AEST
Where: online, please register here