Matias Thomsen is a Lecturer in Criminal Law at the University of Tasmania and a Senior Legal Advisor for the Syria Regional Desk of the Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Centre. Matias’ research interests include international humanitarian law, international criminal law, and international human rights law.
Matias began tutoring at the University of Tasmania in 2015 following his admission into the Tasmanian Legal Profession. In 2016, he was awarded the Tim Hawkins Memorial Scholarship, which provided him with the opportunity to work at the International Criminal Court as Legal Assistant to the Special Advisor on War Crimes. This experience inspired Matias to pursue a career in international humanitarian law and led to the commencement of his PhD at the University of Tasmania, which examines the role of judges at the International Criminal Court in facilitating the development of the law.
Over the course of his PhD, Matias continued teaching at the University of Tasmania, developing expertise in public international law, constitutional law, torts, and criminal law. In 2018, Matias also began working as a legal consultant for the Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Centre, an NGO that specialises in providing responsive legal advice on international humanitarian law and human rights law to various stakeholders operating in conflict-affected regions around the world.
Matias currently works as a Senior Legal Advisor for Diakonia’s Syria Regional Desk. Present projects including the development of a “Lessons Learned” report on the search for missing persons in Lebanon ahead of the proposed United Nations Mechanism on Missing Persons in Syria, the legal status of cross-border humanitarian access in Syria, and fostering engagement with non-state armed groups to promote compliance with international law. Past publications include legal briefs on Humanitarian Demining, the Legal Status of ISIS-Affiliated Foreign Nationals in Detention, and Forcible Recruitment by Non-State Armed Groups.
Doctor of Philosophy
Using the Principle of Systemic Integration to Interpret War Crimes in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
University of Tasmania
Submitted July 2022
Advanced Diploma of Legal Practice
University of Tasmania
Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours in Law
University of Tasmania
Languages (other than English)
Matias lectures in Criminal Law and provides guest lectures in International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law.
LAW229 Criminal Law: Principles and Processes (Co-Unit Coordinator)
LAW218 Criminal Law: Homicide and Other Complex Offences (Co-Unit Coordinator)
LAW337 Jessup International Law Moot (Unit Coordinator)
LAW301 Administrative Law and Advanced Statutory Interpretation (Lecturer and Tutor)
LAW250 Constitutional Law (Tutor)
LAW253 Foundations of Public Law (Tutor)
LAW102 International Law (Tutor)
LAW106 Torts (Tutor)
Matias’ research expertise lies in international humanitarian law, international criminal law, and international human rights law. His first published paper examined sovereignty and state responsibility in the context of international disaster relief. His PhD looks at the extent to which judges of the international criminal court should rely on customary international law in the interpretation of the Rome Statute, synthesising the law of treaty interpretation, domestic and international criminal law, and customary international humanitarian law. Matias also publishes professional reports and legal briefs on international humanitarian law and human rights law.
Current research projects include:
- Lessons learned: The Search for Missing Persons in Lebanon ahead of the UN Mechanism on Missing Persons in Syria
- Cross-Border Humanitarian Access in Syria
- Engagement with Non-State Armed Group Religious Leaders to Promote Compliance with International Humanitarian Law
Fields of Research
- Criminal law (480401)
- Legal processes (230406)
- Law reform (230405)
Past Publications include:
- Matias Thomsen, ‘The Obligation Not to Arbitrarily Refuse International Disaster Relief: A Question of Sovereignty’ (2015) 16(2) Melbourne Journal of International Law 484
- Matias Thomsen and Thomas Assaker, ‘Humanitarian Demining as a Form of Humanitarian Assistance under International Humanitarian Law, Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Centre (June 2020, Web Page).
- Matias Thomsen and Thomas Assaker, ‘The Legal Status of ISIS-Affiliated Foreign Nationals Held in Detention in North-East Syria, Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Centre (August 2019, Web Page).
- Matias Thomsen and Sophie Rondeau, ‘The Forcible Recruitment of Adults by Non-State Armed Groups in Non-International Armed Conflict’, International Humanitarian Law Centre, (May 2019).
Grants & Funding
Number of grants
- The Sentencing Advisory Council of Tasmania is undertaking a review of section 11B of the Sentencing Act 1997, which currently provides that the Court is to take into account, as an aggravating circumstance in relation to the offence, whether the offence was motivated by racial prejudice. The purpose of the review is to:1.Examine the current scope of section 11B and the use of this provision in Tasmania to date.2.Undertake a comparative analysis of relevant provisions of sentencing legislation in other Australian jurisdictions.3.Examine whether section 11B could be expanded to consider whether the offence was motivated to any degree by religion, language, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, innate variations of sex characteristics, age, particular physical disability or cognitive impairment, or a mental illness. The research is important in helping to resolve complex issues amending sentencing legislation to accommodate aggravating circumstances of prejudicial motivation, often referred to as hate crimes. These issues include the identity of group against whom the prejudice is directed and how to define such groups, whether the offence must be totally or only partially motivated by prejudice, and whether only listing certain types of prejudice is discriminatory.
- Sentencing Advisory Council ($42,000)
- Contract Research
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Thomsen M