Human rights champion honoured by Murdoch

February 20, 2013

Renowned human rights champion Dr Walden Bello received an honorary doctorate of letters from Murdoch University at last night’s graduation ceremony.

Professor Garry Rodan from the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University praised Dr Bello’s achievements, referring to him as one of the most respected thinkers in both Asia and the world on globalisation.

“Dr Bello has provided inspirational leadership on behalf of those least powerful who are most in need of advocacy and support,” Professor Rodan said.

A member of the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines, Congressman Bello spends much of his time crafting legislation and assisting the marginalised social sectors that comprise the constituencies of the political party Akbayan (the Citizens’ Action Party).

In December of last year, he was a key player in the successful drive to pass the Reproductive Health Act. The Act institutionalises family planning in the Philippines and defies 14 years of opposition by influential leaders within the Catholic Church.

His other current roles include Member of the Board of Focus on the Global South based in Bangkok, an organisation he helped found to seek progressive social change, Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Binghamton, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Development Studies at St Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada.

Dr Bello’s political and social activism began while studying at Princeton University in 1972 when Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law.

He was instrumental in creating a human rights movement in the United States and lobbied in Washington DC to cease all military and economic aid to the Marcos regime. He was arrested several times for related civil disobedience.

Following the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines in 1986, Dr Bello turned his attention to corporate-driven globalisation and how it was contributing to human rights abuses, economic inequality, and environmental destruction throughout Asia and the world.

A leader in mass actions against the expansion of the World Trade Organisation and G7, he endured police beating at protests in Seattle in 1999, and was nearly run over by a police car in anti-G7 demonstrations in Genoa in 2001.

Among numerous highlights of his career, Dr Bello was presented the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, in Stockholm in 2003.

He was made the Outstanding Public Scholar by the International Studies Association in San Francisco in 2008.

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