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Prof. Andrew Byrnes

Professor of International Law and Human Rights

Andrew Byrnes joined the UNSW Law Faculty as Professor of International Law in May 2005

Languages : English


Andrew Byrnes joined the UNSW Law Faculty as Professor of International Law in May 2005. Previously, he was Professor of Law at the Australian National University (2001-2005) and prior to that was Associate Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, where he was Director of the Centre for Comparative and Public Law and Director of the Master of Laws in Human Rights until his departure in 2001. He served as President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law from 2009 to 2013. He is currently Chair of the Steering Committee of the Australian Centre for Human Rights and a member of the Board of the Diplomacy Training Program. He served as external legal adviser to the Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Right from November 2012 to September 2014.


Bali drug trio call for help

February 24, 2015

International law expert Andrew Byrnes, from the University of NSW, told the court's panel of nine judges the imposition of the death penalty in a drugs case would violate international law.He said judicial analysis showed the death penalty did not deter future drug traffickers, and international law had placed limits on executions, restricting it to "the most serious crimes" involving the loss of life."This court is not being asked to break radical new ground in terms of international human rights law," he said."Rather, the international law has been set out very clearly."Byrnes also argued the three should be allowed to challenge the law even though they were not Indonesian citizens, because Indonesia was party to international conventions which protected the right of equality before the law.

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Human rights obligations go beyond politics
Sydney Morning Herald

February 16, 2015

Independent public office holders are an important part of modern democratic societies. Their task is to ensure accountability for abuses of power by government. Their capacity to perform this role depends on their independence and ability to act impartially. The Australian Human Rights Commission is one such institution.

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In Support Of Gillian Triggs
New Matilda

January 20, 2015

We write to express our concern over the recent criticism of one of Australia’s most respected independent public office holders, Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs. Below we comment on the relentless attacks, including from the Prime Minister, of her recommendation in the Basikbasik matter. In our view, they are based on a misunderstanding of the role of the Commission.

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Aust military trashes Geneva Convention
Green Left Weekly

July 09, 2011

However, University of NSW international law expert Professor Andrew Byrnes told the SMH: “It is clear that the ADF and the government’s lawyers felt very uneasy about this considerable stretch of the legal imagination — and so they should have. Attempts to avoid obligations through legal artifice have no place in the Geneva Conventions’ protective framework.”The documents have also revealed the ADF and the Australian government were aware of concerns about the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, despite claiming they knew nothing.

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Soon I learn whether I live or die, Rush writes
Sydney Morning Herald

June 17, 2010

Professor Andrew Byrnes from the University of NSW, who is recognised by Indonesia's Constitutional Court as an impartial expert on international law and the death penalty, has also provided a submission and will testify for Rush. Numerous errors have also been identified in the sentence, including the assessment that only the death penalty can apply in Rush's case and a failure to consider mitigating circumstances such as his age and remorse.

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Area of Expertise

Combating Ageism

Human Rights


Public Policy


Australian Yearbook of International Law : Member Editorial Board

Australian Journal of Human Rights : Editorial Board member

New Zealand Yearbook of International Law : Advisory Board Member

New Zealand Armed Forces Law Review : Member Advisory Board


Legal Services

Public Policy

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