International law of refugees high on the agenda for former High Court Judge

International law of refugees high on the agenda for former High Court Judge

Hon Justice Michael Kirby visits UOW. 

The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG visited UOW’s Wollongong campus yesterday (Tuesday 3 October) to deliver a public lecture and participate in a series of events on campus.

During an open morning lecture hosted by the UOW School of Law, Mr Kirby discussed the impact of international law on Australia's legislation and issues with the current processing of refugees.

“If you promise to process people and determine whether they have a well-founded fear of persecution on a defined ground under the refugees’ treaty, you discharge that promiseby sending the applicants to a foreign country where the processing is really either not going on or not going on in an effective way,” he told the audience.

“That is not a legitimate way of discharging our obligations under the Refugee Convention. This is what the High Commissioner for refugees is constantly telling us in Australia, that we’re signed up to the convention but we’re not complying.”

“Australia as a nation needs to ensure its compliance.”

Mr Kirby also met with the University’s Ally Network and UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE to share some of his work in the areas of diversity and inclusion.

Mr Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge when he retired from the High Court of Australia in 2009. He is renowned for his commitment to social justice and for inspirational judgments over 35 years on three courts and an Arbitration Commission.

He has also served on a number of high-profile international boards – from the UN Special Representative on Human Rights in Cambodia to the World Health Organisation’s GlobalCommission on AIDS.

Mr Kirby was admitted as a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) at the University in November 2016.