University Laureate Professor first Australian woman to be elected to International Court of Justice

Professor Hilary Charlesworth
Professor Hilary Charlesworth received an absolute majority of votes to be elected to the ICJ.

Professor Hilary Charlesworth has been elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the first Australian woman and only the fifth woman elected to the United Nations body.

The Harrison Moore Professor in Law and a Laureate Professor at Melbourne Law School, Professor Charlesworth received an absolute majority of votes cast by the UN’s 193 member states. She was one of two candidates and replaces fellow Australian Judge James Crawford AC, who died in May this year.

Professor Charlesworth is a pre-eminent scholar of international law and has also served as a judge ad hoc for the Court in two contentious rulings of the ICJ: Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899(Guyana v. Venezuela) and Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening).

She has served as barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of Victoria since 1981.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell  sincerely congratulated Professor Charlesworth on behalf of the University of Melbourne.

"This is an extraordinary achievement and fitting recognition for an extremely distinguished career. I am sure that all of Professor Charlesworth’s friends and colleagues from the Melbourne Law School, and the wider University, will be delighted to learn of her appointment. We look forward to what will undoubtedly be her major contribution to this important legal institution," Professor Maskell said.

Professor Charlesworth has held the Harrison Moore Chair since 2021 and was named Laureate Professor in 2016.  She also leads the Centre for International Governance and Justice at the Australian National University.

Her research includes the structure of the international legal system, peacebuilding, human rights law and international humanitarian law, international legal theory, particularly feminist approaches to international law and the art of international law.

"Together with my Melbourne Law School (MLS) colleagues, I warmly celebrate the appointment of eminent MLS international law jurist and scholar Professor Charlesworth to the International Court of Justice. She will make an outstanding contribution to the court," Melbourne Law School Dean, Professor Pip Nicholson said.

She has been a visiting professor at various institutions including Harvard Law School, New York University Global Law School, UCLA, Paris 1 and the London School of Economics. In addition, she has been a member of the Executive Council of both the Asian and American Societies of International Law and President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law.

Professor Charlesworth takes up her role in The Hague on 5 November 2021, with the term ending 5 February 2024.