Faculty of Law Alumni

Tim Hawkins Scholarship

The Tim Hawkins Memorial Scholarship – celebrating 10 years.

The history of the Tim Hawkins Memorial Scholarship is the story of how a tragedy can, through the determination of family, friends and the wider community, inspire something wonderful – something that has the power to change lives and perhaps, ultimately, make the world a better place.

On the 12 of October 2002 two bombs exploded in the Balinese tourist hub of Kuta, the first inside a backpack in Paddy's Bar and a second more powerful car bomb outside the Sari Club. A total of 202 people were killed, eighty-eight of whom were Australian. One of those Australians was Tim Hawkins, a 28-year-old Tasmanian. Tim was in Bali with a close friend on a fortnight's holiday after graduating with a commerce-law degree at the University of Tasmania.

The bombing violated all principles of humanity and sent shockwaves across the world. It has been described, in subsequent years, as 'our September 11'. The bombing caused immeasurable grief and pain to the family and friends of the victims.

However, in 2003, the tragedy of Tim's death became the catalyst for the creation of a memorial scholarship in his memory. The Scholarship provides for a University of Tasmania law graduate, chosen by the Scholarship Selection Committee, to travel overseas and complete an internship in the field of counter terrorism and international law. The recipient of the Scholarship also receives $13 000 to support them financially for the duration of the unpaid internship.

One of the many dedicated individuals involved in the Hawkins Scholarship from its inception was Professor Tim McCormack; Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Tasmania.

In 2003, Professor McCormack was asked by Professor Don Chalmers, the then Dean of the University of Tasmania Law Faculty and intimately involved in establishing the Scholarship, what opportunities there may be for a University of Tasmania student to intern in one of these fields. Professor McCormack suggested that one possibility would be an internship with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICTY). The ICTY is the United Nations body established to prosecute serious crimes committed during the course of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. At the time Professor McCormack was heavily involved with the court as he was acting as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, on international law issues in the trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former President of Serbia.

In exploring the feasibility of such an arrangement, Professor McCormack had a conversation with a good friend and former student of his who was the Senior Legal Officer for the Judges of the Tribunal. As a result of this conversation, Professor McCormack was put in touch with the woman responsible for internships in the Judges Chambers who, 'very kindly', agreed to enter into an arrangement between the Scholarship Selection Committee and the ICTY. The arrangement provided that the successful annual recipient of the Hawkins Scholarship would spend 6 months interning in the Judges Chambers of the ICTY. This arrangement endured for the next seven years.

Natasha Vicary, the 2006 recipient, describes her time as an intern in the Judges Chambers as 'very eye-opening, involved, challenging and rewarding'. Through her internship Natasha felt she became an active participant in the process of international justice. The 2008 recipient, Lionel Nichols, who interned in the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY, found the experience similarly rewarding as his hard work, diligence and passion ensured that he was warmly welcomed and entrusted with a 'good amount of responsibility.' Stephanie Ierino, the 2009 recipient, recalls that her internship permitted her to 'develop my substantive knowledge of the jurisprudence and practice of the ICTY, but also provided an invaluable insight into the inner workings of the Tribunal, its relationship to the Security Council and its broader context within the UN System.'

However, between 2008 and 2009 the ICTY began to wind down and, accordingly, the internship program was shrunk. Consequently, it was felt by the ICTY that it was no longer appropriate for exclusive arrangements, like that between the Tim Hawkins Scholarship Selection Committee and the ICTY, to continue.

The Scholarship Selection Committee, ably chaired since the inception of the Scholarship by former Governor of Tasmania and former Chancellor of UTAS Sir Guy Green, needed to find an alternative arrangement in order for the Hawkins Scholarship to continue. The opportunity that ultimately opened up was for the Hawkins scholars to be placed in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

However, an immediate hurdle arose. The ICC had decided, at an institutional level, that it would not enter into exclusive intern arrangements with institutions. This meant that they would not guarantee that the student awarded the Hawkins Scholarship by the Selection Committee would be given an internship. The nature of the Hawkins Scholarship meant that this arrangement was unfeasible.

Upon learning of this dilemma Professor McCormack suggested that he and co-Selection Committee Member Professor Michael Tate, who among many other distinguished roles was a former Australian Ambassador to The Netherlands in The Hague, could arrange to meet with the Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo, to discuss this impasse. Mr Ocampo was well known to both Professor McCormack and Professor Tate as they had met him in 2007 at a dinner hosted by the Melbourne Law School and subsequently had remained in contact.

The next part of the Hawkins Scholarship story demonstrates the kind of international cooperation that the Hawkins Scholarship seeks to inspire. Over lunch with Mr Ocampo and with the Deputy Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, hosted by the then Australian Ambassador in The Hague, the topic of the Hawkins Scholarship arose and Professor McCormack lamented the fact that the ICTY was winding down its internship programme and with it the opportunity for the Hawkins scholars to undertake internships. The Prosecutor, upon learning of this situation said, as Professor McCormack recalls; 'Why don't I appoint you my Special Advisor on International Humanitarian Law and you can place, as your Research Assistant, in my office anyone you like.' Recognising immediately what a fantastic opportunity this offer represented for future Hawkins scholars and what an incredible honour it was for him personally, Professor McCormack assured the Prosecutor, in no uncertain terms, that it was quite simply a 'top idea!'

In a subsequent interview, Professor McCormack said of his appointment; '[It is a] great honour and a big responsibility, but something that I'm very keen to do…I've been involved for twenty years in researching international humanitarian law and the prosecution of war crimes. I've been teaching about it, writing about it and publicly advocating it for a number of years. Now to be given this opportunity to be involved in the enforcement of the law, it's something I would feel hypocritical to refuse, I have to take it up and do the best I can with it.'

Following this auspicious lunch the necessary arrangements were put in place and Hawkins scholars now undertake a 6 month position as Professor McCormack's Research Assistant in the ICC. During their time as Research Assistant, Hawkins scholars are primarily engaged in writing memos on issues of law requested by the different trial teams and reviewing reports that have been prepared on country situations by the Preliminary Examination Team in the Office of the Prosecutor.  

For Professor McCormack, who only visits The Hague two or three times a year, having a Research Assistant 'on the ground' is invaluable as they act as his 'eyes and the ears'. This has meant, as Professor McCormack describes, 'I have a direct conduit between the trial teams and the lawyers involved in preliminary examination and any advice that I am asked to provide'. It has also meant that the Hawkins scholar has individual support from Professor McCormack through multiple email exchanges and conversations via Skype or phone on a regular basis and sometimes multiple times a week. As a result Professor McCormack believes that both he and the Hawkins scholar have been able to contribute much more to the day-to-day legal challenges that the Office of the Prosecutor has faced than have the other Special Advisors none of whom has a research assistant based at the Court.

For the Hawkins scholars, being Professor McCormack's Research Assistant is a unique experience. As the 2013 Hawkins scholar, Bridget Dunne, describes her experience as '[It is] very different from a normal internship at the ICC. I have been lucky to have a lot more access than other interns to the evidence and the trial teams, as well as the opportunity to interact with senior staff. The work that I have been able to do has been much more independent and substantive than the tasks that most interns perform'.

Caitlin Dwyer, the 2011 Hawkins scholar, recalls that; 'the experience gave me the opportunity to work professionally at a level I could not imagine working at. I wrote submissions, which were adopted by the Prosecution for the Closing Brief in Lubanga. I attended high-level meetings with [Professor McCormack] and then as his representative. I was used as a resource by various divisions within the Office of the Prosecutor.'

Similarly, Simon McKenzie, the 2012 recipient, explains how he was required to produce research into complex and very demanding international humanitarian law problems to a very high standard, far above and beyond what other interns in the ICC were required to do. His work also meant he was able to discuss issues with the lawyers in the Prosecutors' Office, attend meetings and, as a consequence, learn a great deal more than other interns about the operation of the Prosecutor's Office.

It is a testament to the incredible opportunity that the Hawkins Scholarship represents that many Hawkins scholars have gone on to have very successful careers within the field of international law. Three such former Hawkins Scholars are Stephanie Ierino, Lionel Nichols and Natasha Vicary.

Stephanie Ierino currently works as a Senior Legal Officer in the Office of International Law in the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department.  As Stephanie explains, 'I advise the Australian Government on a range of issues related to public international law, including on issues of international humanitarian law and international criminal law.  The substantive international law knowledge I gained during my time as an intern in The Hague has certainly been of assistance in this regard.'

Following his time as a Hawkins scholar, Lionel Nichols also continued to work in the field of international law. Upon being awarded a Rhodes scholarship in 2008, Lionel moved to Oxford where his studies focused on human rights law and international criminal law. He then completed his doctorate that will soon be published as a book entitled 'The International Criminal Court and the End of Impunity in Kenya'. After spending time as an academic at the University of Oxford Lionel worked closely with Geoffrey Robertson QC for a number of years on a range of human rights issues, including the possibility of prosecuting the pope for crimes against humanity. Lionel currently works as a criminal and human rights barrister in London on cases involving the right to life, freedom from torture, the right to liberty and the right to a fair trial.

After completing her time as a Hawkins scholar Natasha Vicary took up a position as a Prosecutor with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in Melbourne. A few years later she completed her Masters of Laws at the London School of Economics. Natasha now works as an International Prosecutor for the European Union Rule of Law mission in Kosovo where she, along with her staff, prosecute serious crimes including: war crimes, inter-ethnic crimes, murder, trafficking in human beings and high level corruption.  Her experience as a Hawkins scholar helped Natasha realise that being an International Prosecutor was, in her words, 'exactly what I wanted to do'.

In 2013, the Tim Hawkins Memorial Scholarship celebrated its 10-year anniversary and the milestone was marked by a significant breakthrough. Sir Guy Green successfully led a major fundraising effort to increase the capital of the fund. In July 2013 it was announced that the Scholarship would now be endowed in perpetuity.  At the time of writing this article the 2014 Hawkins scholar, Madeline Summers, has just arrived in The Hague. She will be joining, as the 2008 Hawkins Scholarship recipient Sophie Rigney describes, 'an incredibly special community of Hawkins Scholars; individuals who have gone out into the world to continue a legacy and honour the memory of someone who was such a generous spirited person.'

The history of the Hawkins Scholarship and the stories of the Hawkins scholars demonstrate that Tim's generous spirit, passion and determination to make the world a better place lives on in every Hawkins scholar and will be remembered and appreciated for many years to come.

Read about the past recipients of the Tim Hawkins Memorial Scholarship:


James Upcher ~ 2004
Catherine McWilliam ~ 2005
Natasha Vicary ~ 2006
Lionel Nichols ~ 2007
Sophie Rigney ~ 2008
Stephanie Ierino ~ 2009
Meredith Hagger ~ 2010
Caitlin Dwyer ~ 2011
Simon McKenzie ~ 2012
Bridget Dunne ~ 2013
Madeleine Summers ~ 2014

Learn more about the Tim Hawkins scholarship

Article by Charlotte Hunn.

Published on: 26 Mar 2014 5:18pm