Scientia Professor Jane McAdam

Scientia Professor Jane McAdam

BA (Hons) (Sydney)

LLB (Hons) (Sydney)

DPhil (Oxford)

Law & Justice
School of Global & Public Law

Jane McAdam AO is Scientia Professor of Law and Director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW. She is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, a Research Associate at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre, an Associated Senior Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway, and a Senior Research Associate of the Refugee Law Initiative in London. She was a non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at The Brookings Institution, Washington DC from 2012–16 and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School in fall 2019. In 2021, Professor McAdam was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 'for distinguished service to international refugee law, particularly to climate change and the displacement of people'.

Professor McAdam has a doctorate in law from the University of Oxford, and first class honours degrees in law and history from the University of Sydney. She publishes widely in international refugee law and forced migration, with a particular focus on climate change, disasters and displacement. She has special expertise on cross-border relocations, especially in the Pacific, and a keen interest in the global history of refugee and migration law. Her research has been supported by a number of Australian Research Council grants, including a prestigious Future Fellowship (2012–15). She has published 13 books, over 70 peer-reviewed scholarly articles, and hundreds of other publications, presentations and parliamentary submissions. She is joint Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law, the leading journal in the field.

Professor McAdam serves on a number of international committees, including the International Law Association’s Committee on International Law and Sea-Level Rise (as Co-Rapporteur until 2018); the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement; the Technical Advisory Group for the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security Programme; and the Advisory Council of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion. She has been an expert advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and the World Bank’s Thematic Working Group on Environmental Change and Migration, and was appointed to draft a Pacific Regional Framework on Climate Mobility. From 2016–17, she led UNSW's Grand Challenge on Refugees & Migrants.

In 2013, Professor McAdam was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2015, she was honoured as one of Australia’s top 10 Women of Influence, winning the ‘global’ category of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence awards. In 2017, she received the prestigious international Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for Human Rights for her work on refugees and forced migration, becoming the first Australian recipient of the award. She was also one of four finalists for the NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year in 2017. In 2022, she won the Australian Human Rights Commission's Law Award.

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  • Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, ‘The Concept of “Imminence” in the International Protection of Refugees’ (2016–18, DP160100079, with CIs Foster and Lambert)
  • Research Council of Norway, ‘Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise in the Anthropocene: Challenges for International Law in the 21st Century’ (2014–18, with collaborators from the UK, US and Norway)
  • Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, ‘Moving with Dignity: A Human Rights Approach to Slow-Onset Climate Change-Related Displacement and Relocation in the Pacific’ (2011–15, FT110100721)
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, ‘Weathering Uncertainty: Climate Change “Refugees” and International Law’ (2009–11, DP0985793)
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, ‘Immigration Restriction and the Racial State, c. 1880 to the Present’ (2009–12, DP0984518, with CI Bashford and PI Amrith)
  • Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council International Opportunities Fund, ‘War Crimes and Refugee Status: The Application and Interpretation of International Humanitarian and International Criminal Law to the Adjudication of Refugee Status in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand’ (2009, with collaborators from the UK, US and Canada)

2015 - honoured as one of Australia’s top 10 Women of Influence  

2015 - winner of the ‘global’ category of the 100 Women of Influence awards

2017 - winner of the prestigious international Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for Human Rights

2017 - finalist, NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year