Events Calendar

Prof. Melanie O’Brien: Australian War Crimes Investigations

Friday, March 8, 2024
12:30 pm
Josephine Spencer Niblett Law Building (LB)
Room: Moot Court Room
Melaine O'Brien

Join the Public and Private International Law Research Group for a public lecture from Melanie O’Brien, Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Western Australia on Australian War Crimes Investigations.

In 2016, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) commissioned the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry, following allegations of possible war crimes committed by Australian special forces soldiers serving in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2016. The inquiry was conducted independently by a judge and Australian Army Reserve officer, Major General Hon Justice Paul Brereton, with the report released in November 2020. The report revealed multiple allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) by Australian special forces soldiers, including torture and murder. This talk will give an overview of the so-called ‘Brereton Report’, critically detailing the allegations and response, including the subsequent and ongoing investigations and charges.

Dr Melanie O’Brien is Associate Professor of International Law at the UWA Law School, University of Western Australia.

Dr O'Brien's work on forced marriage has been cited by the International Criminal Court, and she has been an amicus curiae before the ICC. She has been an expert consultant for multiple UN bodies, and is widely consulted by global media for her expertise on international criminal law. She has conducted fieldwork and research across six continents.

Dr O'Brien is the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), and a member of the WA International Humanitarian Law Committee of the Australian Red Cross. She was a 2022 Research Fellow at the Sydney Jewish Museum & a 2023 Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Loughborough, UK. Dr O'Brien is a 2023-24 Visiting Professor at the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota, USA (on leave from UWA during this time).

Dr O'Brien is the author of Criminalising Peacekeepers: Modernising National Approaches to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (Palgrave, 2017) and From Discrimination to Death: Genocide Process through a Human Rights Lens (Routledge, 2022).

Prof. Ryan Liss
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