Issue 6
Tuesday, 07 August 2018
Charles Darwin University
Associate Professor Alan Berman is Chair of the Law discipline
Associate Professor Alan Berman is Chair of the Law discipline

New Law Chair to combat hate crimes

A global law academic who played a crucial role in several law reforms centred on discrimination and hate crimes in Australia and the United States is the Chair of the Law discipline in the recently formed College of Business and Law at CDU.

Originally from California, Associate Professor Alan Berman has taught in Australia, New Zealand and the United States in the areas of international human rights law, equal opportunity law, Australian constitutional law and comparative legal systems.

His current research relates to the regulations surrounding hate speech on social media and how regulation could combat this increase while minimising the impacts on free speech.

“With the rise of social media there has been a proliferation of hate speech,” Dr Berman said. “Currently there are minimal reforms or criminal penalties in many parts of the world including Australia.”

His passion for addressing inequality and discrimination began while growing up in California and was spurred on through his PhD titled “French Colonization, Kanak Nationalism and Gender Inequality in New Caledonia” in 2006.

“Through my research on New Caledonia, I became aware of the impacts of colonisation on Indigenous people, particularly with regard to gender parity,” he said. “My research suggests that many of the same issues face Indigenous people throughout the world.

“One of the things I am excited to pursue at CDU is links with international partners, particularly within the Asian-Pacific region and also to build our Indigenous student co-hort.”

Dr Berman’s research is focused on Indigenous peoples and international law, the link between international human rights law and foreign policy, humanitarian intervention, the international rules regulating the use of force, gender and the law, sexuality and the law, international law and racial hate speech regulation and comparative constitutional law. The impetus for his longstanding interest in the regulation of hate crimes came when he was selected as one of a handful of academics invited to participate in the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes during the Clinton administration in 1997.

He has published a book and numerous law review articles in international law journals including the Stanford Journal of International Law, Oxford Comparative Law Forum and the Cambridge International Journal of Law in Context.

He has made submissions to the Australian Federal Parliament on proposed changes to the Marriage legislation and in 2017 to the Northern Territory Attorney-General on potential future amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act of the Northern Territory.