Headshot of Natasha Yacoub

Natasha Yacoub

PhD candidate, Researcher
Masters of Law (Public International Law), University of Melbourne, 2012 Bachelor of Law, University of Adelaide, 1998 Bachelor Arts (Honours), University of Adelaide, 1997

Ms Yacoub is an international refugee law practitioner and scholar. She worked for two decades for UNHCR. She was posted in conflict and peacetime settings since 2001 in Egypt, Sudan, Ireland, United Nations Headquarters New York, Myanmar, Australia and the Pacific Island States (including Nauru and Papua New Guinea). She also served as a decision-maker on the Refugee Review Tribunal and Migration Review Tribunal in Australia from 2012 to 2014. She teaches international refugee law at the University of London, where she also chairs a Working Group on Feminist Theory and Refugee Law. She is currently undertaking doctoral studies at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.

Research topic

Her thesis is titled: ‘Gendering the International Law Criteria for Return of Refugees: the case of Sudan.’


Voluntary repatriation has been upheld as the ‘ideal’ solution for refugees by the United Nations General Assembly since 1948. Its inclusion in international refugee law instruments originated from efforts to prevent forced return practices with dire humanitarian consequences following the Second World War.  However, voluntary far from ideal for refugee women. The thesis applies a gender-sensitive approach to voluntary repatriation in international refugee law. It demonstrates that this law fails to include women’s experiences, risking forced return to the harm their fled. It proposes a transformation of the law to better protect refugee women.


Jane McAdam, Christine Forster

Areas of interest

International refugee law, feminist theory, human rights

  • Governor of New South Wales, Australia Day Award for scholarship benefitting women (2024)
  • Asian Society of International Law Emerging Scholar Award (equal first, 2023)
  • UNSW Dean’s Student Prize for contribution to research community (2022)