Robin Warner

Robin Margaret Fraser Warner

Citation delivered by Professor Colin Picker, Executive Dean, Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Robin Margaret Fraser Warner as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 28 April 2021.

Deputy Chancellor, I present Professor Robin Warner.

An outstanding legal professional, academic and educator with unique expertise, Robin Warner has made an enduring contribution to oceans governance, high seas biodiversity and climate change at the highest levels.

Robin’s early legal career was spent as a serving officer with the Royal Australian Navy. Over two decades, she rose to the rank of Captain within the Legal Branch and held several seminal roles including Director of International Law for the Australian Defence Force, Deputy Director of Naval Legal Services and Head of the ACT Legal Reserve Panel. She brought the critical importance of international law to military operations into sharp focus, and counts assisting the UN Transitional Administration in drafting legislation for the independent East Timor among her many proud achievements.

She joined the Criminal Justice Division of the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department in 2002 as Assistant Secretary of the International Crime Branch, assuming the weighty responsibility of all Australia’s extraditions, both incoming and outgoing. In the ensuing years, she led twelve Australian delegations to influence bilateral and multilateral negotiations on transnational crime and criminal justice cooperation issues.

Robin undertook her PhD at the University of Sydney, focusing on the international law framework for protection of the marine environment and conservation of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. Graduating in 2006, she transitioned to an academic career in 2007, joining UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS). She would later become its Deputy Director and Head of Postgraduate Studies, and play a decisive role in its evolution into a world-class institution in ocean affairs and policy.

Securing a prestigious ARC postdoctoral fellowship for a project mitigating the impacts of climate change on the oceans soon after joining ANCORS, Robin engaged with the then-new United Nations-sponsored initiative to protect areas of the ocean and seabed beyond national jurisdiction. Quickly developing a reputation for excellence, she was seconded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a key delegate through this crucial process. She remained a central figure in UN negotiations on high seas biodiversity conservation until her retirement in 2020.

Robin’s contribution to international scholarship on climate change and the oceans, and the regulation of marine protected areas is immense. She authored Protecting the Oceans Beyond National Jurisdiction: Strengthening the International Law Framework – widely regarded as the seminal publication in the field – and her expertise has been in high demand by conferences, workshops, publications and advisory bodies around the world.

An outstanding legal educator, she has guided and inspired many students and researchers and continues to engage with PhD supervision and teaching in her capacity as an honorary professorial fellow at UOW.

Deputy Chancellor, throughout her varied career, Robin M Warner has shown exceptional commitment, determination and skill to advance research within her field for the benefit of the environment and society more broadly. In doing so, she has enhanced the reputation of UOW and Australia on the global stage.

It is a privilege to present Professor Robin Warner to be admitted as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.