News & Stories

International Justice Initiative: A Year In Review

From supporting the United Nations Development Programme and International Criminal Court to attending the Bangkok Climate Change Conference, it's been a productive year for Law students.

In 2018, the International Justice Initiative (IJI) has continued to bring opportunities in public interest law to University of Tasmania law students.

Students Frances Medlock and Alice van Galen coordinated the IJI, working with Daniel Westbury, Siobhain Galea, Rosie Evans, Salman Shah, Connie Beswick, Heidi White, and Kate Raffety.

“The IJI enables Bachelor of Laws students to experience the practice of international law and policy first-hand, through legal research, analysis, and service in the public interest,” Salman said.

We undertake projects with international lawyers who are working in the public interest in various international institutions and processes such as the UNFCCCC, the International Criminal Court, and the Convention against Torture Initiative.

UNDP & International Criminal Court

This year, students from the IJI completed a contract for the United Nations Development Programme to create an online resource of 54 African countries’ adaptation plans.

Students also provided advice on the war crime of destroying cultural property in times of occupation to the prosecution team of the International Criminal Court.

This project was completed under the guidance of Dean of the Faculty of Law, Professor Tim McCormack, who is the Special Adviser on International Humanitarian Law to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The task involved interpreting the word ‘attack’ in the Rome Statute with respect to property offences. Previously, the word had been used in international criminal law only in the context of offences against persons.

Furthermore, the IJI created a report for Corporate Accountability International, an NGO which raises awareness about the role that fossil fuel companies have in the United Nations climate treaty negotiations. The report outlined various understandings of the term ‘conflict of interest’ among negotiators, NGOs, and industry groups.

Bangkok Climate Change Conference

In September, Frances, Heidi, and Daniel travelled to the Bangkok Climate Change Conference, where they supported various civil society advocates and state party negotiators in designing the ‘Rule Book’ for the Paris Agreement.

“In Bangkok, I supported the work of Corporate Accountability International, an NGO which campaigns on international issues including ‘big tobacco’, water accessibility, and protection of democratic rights,” Frances said.

“I worked with Corporate Accountability on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Article 6 sets up ‘cooperative approaches’, which include both market and non-market approaches.”

“During the Conference I attended all sessions on Article 6. At these sessions I took notes for Corporate Accountability, and summarised the main points discussed for each agenda item.”

“My work for the week involved writing legal research briefs for issues that were coming up in the technology framework negotiations,” Daniel said.

“This included briefs for delegates and liaising with other members of the IJI to see how work in other subsidiary bodies was affecting, and being affected, by the work happening in the informal consultations under the technology agenda items.”

“Other students who did not travel to Bangkok were also involved in researching and providing advice to their colleagues on the ground in Bangkok on topics such as climate change doss and damage and the global emissions stock-take process,” Salman said.

Convention against Torture Initiative

In February 2019, Siobhain and Rosie will be travelling to Fiji to assist the Convention against Torture Initiative, where twelve Pacific Island states are expected to ratify the Convention Against Torture.

“We are providing background research for the Convention against Torture Initiative to help it prepare for its Pacific regional meeting in Fiji in February,” Siobhain said.

Our background research focuses on the anti-torture legislation currently in place in Pacific States and our work during the conference will involve note-taking and compiling a summary of the outcomes.

“We're thrilled to be a part of such an exciting and important opportunity.”

— Story by Rachel Hay.

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