The evolution of human rights and the ongoing impact on modern policing will be explored at a major international conference in Canberra from April 16 to 18.

Organised by the Griffith University-based Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security (CEPS), the 2013 conference comes 50 years after Canberra hosted an historic United Nations seminar on the role of police in the protection of human rights.

CEPS Director, Professor Simon Bronitt, said that while much had changed in the past 50 years, some themes remained constant. These included the role of human rights in modern domestic and international policing, whether effective law enforcement was hampered or helped by compliance with human rights, and the need to tackle discrimination against women and minorities in policing.

In today’s post-9/11 era, however, Professor Bronitt said the nature of policing was growing ever more demanding and could change rapidly. He hoped the conference would increase awareness of the many issues facing police in the 21st century.

“These include the threats that technological advances can present, multicultural issues and the frontline therapeutic and welfare roles performed by police in interactions with the vulnerable and disadvantaged,” he said.

“Meanwhile, the significance of the connection between human rights and policing extends beyond simple legal compliance and the duty of police to respect national laws and international treaties in the field of human rights.

“It also enters an ethical realm via the role that fundamental values and principles play in deliberations over the perceived rights and wrongs of law enforcement at individual and organisational levels.”

CEPS is jointly funded by the Australian Research Council and Griffith University and its 2013 conference boasts a formidable array of speakers, among them Professor Peter Neyroud, the former Chief Executive Officer for Britain’s National Policing Improvement Agency, and Australian National University Emeritus Professor David Hambly, an observer at the 1963 UN seminar.

The former Division Chief at the Miami-Dade Police Departments in the US, Karin Montejo, will also address the conference on challenges affecting the ability of women to rise to the highest levels of police command.

With international peacekeeping, the growth of trans-national crime, technology and forensics, corruption and ethics and balancing human rights and security all prominent topics, the conference will also honour contributions by international organisations and community groups in the promotion of human rights in policing.