Professor Andrew Byrnes speaks on Peoples’ tribunals and International Law in Switzerland

Peoples’ Tribunals and International Law was the focus of a public lecture and seminar class by Professor Andrew Byrnes at the University of Zurich this month.

Professor of International Law and Chair of the Australian Human Rights Centre at UNSW Law, Professor Byrnes was invited to visit Zurich as part of efforts to expand academic collaboration between the two law schools.

In his lecture, Claiming international law for the people: the persistence and role of civil society tribunals in the modern world, Professor Byrnes explored the continuing popularity and relevance of peoples’ tribunals, especially those which seek to invoke the legitimacy of law by adopting quasi-judicial hearings and purporting to apply international legal standards to evidence laid before them. He used recent tribunals in Asia as examples, including tribunals dealing with the impact of the activities of agrochemical transnational corporations, and the pursuit of a living wage in the garment industry in Asia.

At the University of Zurich Professor Byrnes taught a seminar class with ProfessorChristine Kaufmann, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Law at Zurich, on Peoples’ Tribunals and International Law. Professor Kaufmann, an expert in international law, in particular human rights and business, will be visiting UNSW in 2013.

While in Switzerland, Professor Byrnes, who is also the current President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law, met with representatives of the Swiss Competence Centre for Human Rights, the network of universities funded by the Swiss Government to advance research in the field of human rights.

The University of Zurich is one of UNSW’s partner universities, and welcomes students on exchange at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Many courses are taught in English.

Photo: Andrew Byrnes with Professor Christine Kaufmann and members of the seminar class on Peoples’ Tribunals and International Law, Villa Hatt, Zurich, 5-6 October 2012