War and peace: the ANZAC spirit and human rights

25 Apr 2015

A series of papers given by the various speakers at the Australian Human Rights Commission’s War and Peace: The Anzac spirit and human rights 2014 seminar.


Every year around Anzac Day, Australians and New Zealanders remember those who fought in all wars and conflicts over the last 100 years. As the national human rights institutions of Australia and New Zealand we wanted to mark the anniversary of the start of the First World War by examining the relationship between the Anzac spirit and the evolution of international human rights.


We therefore convened a seminar on the 1st of May 2014 that examined the following questions:

  • What was it that New Zealanders and Australians believed they were fighting for during the First World War?
  • Is it merely a romantic myth that the Anzacs fought for individual freedom and liberty against the threat of national aggrandisement and racial superiority? Was it a war of ideas between the individualist democratic enlightened French and English tradition and the German heroic ideal of sacrifice for the common good? In short, did such lofty ideas as liberty really stimulate the Anzac bravery in a conflict that was so many thousands of miles from us?
  • How did the Anzac experiences from 1914-18 shape and articulate the global human rights based regime that we have 100 years later in the 21st Century?





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