Panelists will explore the challenges and opportunities afforded by the UN system to Indigenous peoples, especially concerning rights and recognition.

Indigenous peoples have long played had a presence in international organisations and politics. From the Haudenosaunee and the League of Nations in the 1920s, through to UNDRIP in 2007, and to now, Indigenous Peoples have used international forums to try and assert rights, sovereignty, and claims for justice, often when domestic avenues have been less successful.

But Indigenous peoples have also been poorly represented and hardly heard at many points throughout this history; their own self-determining rights and aspirations subsumed by assertions of absolute sovereignty by settler states, including Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, seeking to ‘domesticate’ Indigenous nations and their issues.


UN expert, Bina D’Costa is an activist-scholar of global politics at home in classrooms and conflict zones alike. Bina studies wars and forced migration, children and young people’s protection in emergencies, conflict-related sexual violence and war crimes, human rights advocacy, and indigenous rights.  Bina is an advisory board member of the International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (ICHTC), an advisory body for human rights of the indigenous peoples of the CHT, Bangladesh, including examination of the implementation of the Peace Accord of 1997. Bina is a UN Special Rapporteur in the Working Group of People of African Descent (WGEPAD). She is a Professor at the Department of International Relations, The Australian National University, an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow (2023-2027) on displacement, humanitarian emergencies and global south approaches to protection, and ARC Centre of Excellence for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEVAW) Chief Investigator and ANU node lead (migration and trafficking). Bina has written many articles and seven books including Cascades of Violence, co-authored with John Braithwaite (2018); Children and the Politics of Violence in South Asia (2017), Marginalisation and Impunity: Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (2014, 2016) and Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia (2011, 2013). At the height of Europe’s refugee emergency, she moved to UNICEF’s Office of Research-Innocenti as its senior migration and displacement research specialist to build its Migration and Displacement program (2015-2018). She has served in UNICEF’s European ‘refugee crisis’, Rohingya Emergency Response Team in Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh, and the Horn of Africa emergency. Bina led a major advocacy research project on reparations and conflict related sexual violence (CRSV) with Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST) and REDRESS (2021-2024).

Maori scholar Dominic O’Sullivan is Professor at Charles Sturt University. He has over 50 refereed research publications including more than 30 refereed journal articles and book chapters and six books. He also has extensive political commentary experience for ABC Radio and has written for The ConversationOpenForum, the New Zealand Herald, the Policy SpaceNursing Review and a number of other newspapers. He has had work commissioned by the International Labor Organization, the New Zealand Ministry of Education and National Institute of Research Excellence for Maori Development and Advancement. The National Assembly of Québec's examination of New Zealand's electoral system draws on his work on Maori parliamentary representation and he has publications listed in the select bibliography to the report of the New Zealand Government's Constitutional Advisory Panel. His work has been cited to support proceedings in the High Court of New Zealand, the Australian Commonwealth Parliament's Joint Select Committee Report on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and the Commonwealth Productivity Commission's Better Indigenous Policies: the role of evaluation. His work has been extensively cited by the New Zealand Education Review Office. It has been used to support New Zealand Ministry of Education teacher professional development programmes, the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples Education Policy and the Canadian First Nations' Schools Association's Handbook for Principals in First Nations' Schools.

Kombumerri woman and Australian diplomat Emily Pugin joined the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) in 2013 and has worked across Australia’s foreign policy, international development, multilateral and trade portfolios. Emily was posted as a diplomat to Australia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna, Austria, where she had a range of multilateral and bilateral responsibilities to advance Australia’s interests. She lead Australia’s engagement at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime where she negotiated international drugs policy and represented Australia at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which covers a range of global security issues. Emily has also managed Australia’s bilateral relationships with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Slovakia. 

Wiradjuri man, and moderator, James Blackwell is a Research Fellow in Indigenous Diplomacies at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, as well a PhD Candidate within the School. James’ work centres on prioritising Indigenous voices within predominately white systems of governance. He sees this work as a way to advance Indigenous knowledges and perspectives into spaces previously built around the exclusion of Indigenous voices, and create a greater presence for his community. James’ is currently focused on conceptualising First Nations foreign policy approaches in the Twenty-First Century, and how First Nations peoples and knowledges can be better utilised in IR theory and foreign policy practice. He also has written on U.S. domestic/electoral politics, civil-military relations, and U.S. foreign and defence policy. He also is a current member of the Uluru Dialogue based out of UNSW, working to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and on advancing a constitutionally-enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament, both through advocacy and through research.


Light refreshments will be served prior to the event. Registration is essential for this in-person only event.

Panel Discussion




Lecture Theatre 1, Hedley Bull Building

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