Hilary Charlesworth is Professor and Director of the Centre for International Governance and Justice in the School of Regulation and Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University.
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RegNet’s Hilary Charlesworth has been chosen as part of the ANU thought leaders campaign. The ANU thought leaders article draws on Hilary’s experience as an ad hoc judge at the International Court of Justice and as the chair of the committee considering whether the ACT should adopt a bill of rights.
Read the entire profile piece below.
“As an academic, I’d always hoped to return to ANU (where I had been a summer scholar as an undergraduate). It was attractive because it had such a strong reputation for International Law (which is my area) and Public Law generally.
I’ve been at ANU since 1997. During my career here, I’ve been lucky to have been involved in some exciting activities outside standard academic duties. For example, I chaired the committee appointed by the ACT Government in 2002 to advise on whether the ACT should adopt a bill of rights. This meant being engaged in extensive community consultation and being involved in drafting legislation that was eventually adopted in 2004-the Human Rights Act. It was a memorable experience.
Another wonderful experience was being an ad hoc judge at the International Court of Justice for the Whaling in the Antarctic case, brought by Australia against Japan. Being a judge on a case, involving very technical legal issues as well as an intriguing political context, gave me the chance to experience at first hand an institution I had studied for many years.
I teach mainly graduate students and give guest lectures for undergraduate students in International Law and Human Rights. For me this has been the best possible job. What I love about teaching is the chance to see students develop. You see students who you remember as shy undergraduates grow and go on and do inspiring things. It’s thrilling!
I’ve been the beneficiary of great teaching myself and I know the impact great teachers can have. Students appreciate someone who takes them seriously and is willing to talk them through a problem.
Often my students will ask questions that make me look at things differently. I think ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve never thought of it that way!’ Some of the best things I’ve written have come out of perceptive student questions; I don’t think I’d be able to contribute to international legal scholarship without students constantly questioning and challenging.
I would really encourage students to come to ANU. It’s a university with a proud culture of enquiry. You’re coming to an institution that has a long tradition of research to inform teaching.
And ANU has a number of areas of particular expertise - for example, international and public law, gender studies and in the Asia and Pacific regions-which you don’t find everywhere. There are also areas that focus on government policy and law. It’s a very stimulating environment with great depth of excellence.
What I love about ANU, compared to anywhere else I’ve worked, is the geography of our campus, which fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration. It’s a beautiful, low-rise, welcoming campus with open green spaces and spectacular birdlife. It’s a wonderful place to just walk around and engage with others.”