Human Rights and the City in Asia and Oceania: Urban Actors and Opportunities and Challenges for Localising Rights

Dr Ken M.P. Setiawan1, Dr Maya Costa-Pinto1, Dr Herlambang P. Wiratraman2, Ms Ekawestri Prajwalita  Widiati2, Ms Dwi Rahayu  Kristianti2, Dr Naomi Francis1,3

1The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 2Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia, 3Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Chair: Dr Ken M.P. Setiawan


As a result of urbanisation and decentralisation, particularly prominent in Asia, cities are increasingly becoming the main level of governance in which rights need to be realised. This panel brings together papers on India, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, as well as the Asian region as a whole, to critically discuss why and how urban actors integrate (inter)national human rights principles and discourses at the practical level of urban politics in Asia and Oceania, a region that is often considered as ambivalent towards international human rights principles. The papers reveal that urban actors engage with human rights in varying degrees, often reflecting strategic considerations. As such, cities have emerged that explicitly define themselves as a ‘human rights city’, while others promote international principles indirectly and/or in specific areas. Similarly, the appropriation of ‘human rights’ often only has limited impact on the implementation of these norms. This panel thus explores processes of human rights promotion and contestation, thereby identifying factors that influence the appropriation of international human rights norms, in various urban settings across the region. This deepens knowledge of how human rights are localised and the roles played by both state and non-state urban actors in this process.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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