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Speeding Towards Dystopia: Social Policy in the United States and Australia

  • Melbourne Law School 185 Pelham Street Carlton, VIC, 3053 Australia (map)
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In a report to the UN Human Rights Council in June, Philip Alston argued that the combination of rapidly growing inequality and 40 million people living below the poverty line endangers American democracy. Policies deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest and punish those who are not in employment will make the situation much worse.

While leading members of Congress endorsed his findings, Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the UN and a Trump cabinet member, replied that “it is patently ridiculous for the UN to examine poverty in America.” Alston should instead have looked at Burundi and the DRC rather than wasting “the UN's time and resources, deflecting attention from the world' s worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world.”

In this lecture, Alston reflects on what he sees as the increasingly dramatic parallels between the US and Australia, and the threat posed by these developments.

When: Tuesday 14 August 2018, 6.00pm - 7.00pm
Where: Lecture Theatre G08, Ground Floor, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, The University of Melbourne
RSVP: This public lecture is free, but you need to register via the link below.

This event is hosted in collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the Human Rights Law Centre.

Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights


Philip Alston was appointed by the Human Rights Council in 2014 as the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. His mandate is to identify approaches for removing all obstacles to the full enjoyment of human rights for people living in extreme poverty. He has occupied many senior roles within the UN including Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals, and chairperson and rapporteur of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. He has taught at the European University Institute, the Australian National University, Harvard Law School, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is widely regarded as one of the world's leading human rights lawyers.