International Law and Policy Group

UNSW Law’s International Law and Policy Group comprises over 20 academics and over 20 current PhD students. 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
The high seas and the deep ocean: representation, resources and regulatory governance of our oceans

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 seeks to chart and analyse how cultural conditions underpin the use of the oceans and to investigate the relationships between the representations, resources and regulations of the high seas and the deep oceans.

Between politics and technique: designing international extradition law

Effective extradition laws are an essential tool of international law enforcement, both in relation to domestic crime 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 pursuance 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 best interests of the child as defined by the child

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 principle of the best interests of the child is considered to be 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 against other guiding principles in family law and human rights law (e.g. the right to survival and development, the right to participate, etc.).

Digital humanitarianism: law and policy challenges

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. Across 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 distribute humanitarian aid and target development assistance using data science without undermining the integrity of those distributive decisions. It addresses, too, the problem of how 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.

Our members