UNSW Law & Justice’s International Law and Policy Group comprises more than 20 academics and current PhD students respectively. Its members work on theories and practice of international law as a system, and across a range of areas, including: 

  • human rights law
  • international criminal law
  • international cultural heritage law
  • international economic and business law
  • international environmental law
  • law of the sea
  • private international law
  • refugee law.

In addition to being internationally recognised scholars in their respective fields, its members:

  • advise governments, both in Australia and overseas
  • advocate for reform of international law, and of the way international law is implemented at the national level
  • consult for international agencies and NGOs
  • are litigation practitioners before international courts and tribunals
  • author authoritative monographs, reference works and commentaries
  • regularly contribute to public debate in the media.

Projects

  • The oceans are ecologically in peril and a regulatory disaster. While the problems are widely acknowledged, the governance of the sea remains inadequate to address these global and multifarious challenges. The challenges related to the use and regulation of high seas and the deep ocean are fundamentally shaped and influenced by cultural conditions and perceptions. This project analyses how cultural conditions underpin the use of the oceans while investigating the relationships between the representations, resources and regulations of the high seas and the deep oceans.

  • Effective extradition laws are an essential tool of international law enforcement, in relation to both domestic and transnational crime. However, these laws need to find the right balance between protecting the rights of an individual and serving a larger purpose in pursuit of the ‘greater good’. In response to the atrocities of World War II, the political crimes exception was stripped away from international extradition law. Although this was necessary at the time to allow for the extradition of war criminals, this has now become a loophole that oppressive governments are able to abuse to prosecute individuals opposing their rule. This project seeks to examine and reform the current stance on the political crime exception when it comes to international extradition law.

  • The convention on the Rights of the Child was the first instrument to incorporate the complete range of international human rights – including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights as well as aspects of humanitarian law. In international law, the best interest of the child is the primary guiding principle, and yet this principle is defined and applied by courts everywhere without much (or often any) input from children themselves. This research will explore the conceptual and practical limitations of this by drawing a comparison with other guiding principles in family law and human rights law, such as the right to survival and development and the right to participate, among others.

  • This project studies how agencies such as the UN make use of data science to support decision-making and resource allocation in humanitarian and development work. Around the world, international institutions, national agencies and civil society organisations are embracing ‘digital humanitarianism’. The project addresses the problem of how – or if it is possible – to use data science to distribute humanitarian aid and target development assistance without undermining the integrity of those distributive decisions. It addresses, too, whether it is better to reconcile this use of data science with longstanding legal and policy principles, or adapt those principles to this changing practice, to minimise adverse effects.

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