International law is the term given to the rules which govern relations between states. The International Court of Justice has described international law as follows:

Despite the absence of any superior authority to enforce such rules, international law is considered by states as binding upon them, and it is this fact which gives these rules the status of law. So, for example, where a state wishes to avoid a particular rule, it will not argue that international law does not exist, but merely that states have not agreed that such a rule is to be binding upon them, or that the rule does not apply to the particular circumstances.

Unlike national or domestic law, international law is not set down in any legislation approved by a parliament. Even multilateral treaties do not apply to all states, but only to those which have consented to be so bound, by signing and ratifying or acceding to them. As a result, the precise rules of international law are often more difficult to identify than national laws, and may be found in a variety of sources.

The United Nations Treaty Series contains further information on treaties and a database of treaties. The United Nations has also published a Treaty Handbook providing information on many aspects of treaty law and practice and includes a useful glossary of many of the terms used when referring to treaties, for example ratification, accession, declaration, etc. 

What is International Criminal Law?

International criminal law (ICL) prohibits certain actions by individuals and establishes the sanctions applicable when an individual commits those actions.  In this regard, criminal law (whether domestic or international) differs from human rights law and international law generally, in that those held accountable are individuals, rather than governments.

The International Justice Resource Centre Describes International criminal law as follows: ICL can be distinguished from domestic criminal law in that the former penalizes crimes which are particularly egregious and capable of producing wide-scale harm (such as crimes against humanity or genocide) and those crimes that can be thought of as ‘international’ in that they involve actions traditionally carried out by States or their agents (war crimes, acts of aggression) or are of a trans-national, or multi-jurisdictional, nature (terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy, slave trade).

Universal jurisdiction allows national courts to prosecute individuals for serious crimes against international law provided the State has adopted legislation recognizing the relevant crimes and authorizing their prosecution. Sometimes this national legislation is mandated by international agreements, such as the Convention Against Torture.

What is Global Governance?

Global governance generally relates to frameworks relating to global public goods, particularly peace and security, justice and mediation systems for conflict, functioning markets and unified standards for trade and industry. This includes catastrophic risk management. The leading institutions are the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF.

Global governance is commonly effected through regional coordination and / or strategic or economic initiatives such as NATO and norm-setting forums, such as the G20, the G7 and the World Economic Forum.

Felicity’s International Bio

Professor Felicity Gerry QC is admitted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) in The Hague, to the Bar of England & Wales and the Victorian Bar, Australia. She has also had ad hoc admission in Hong Kong and Gibraltar. As an international QC she is regularly called upon to handle serious, complex and sensitive trials and appeals at every level of court. Her cases and advisory work involve two core themes:

  • Criminal Responsibility and human rights.
  • Corporate Responsibility and human rights.

Felicity holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), a Master of Laws in International Governance (LLM Int Gov) and a Graduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (GCUTL).

She is Professor of Legal Practice at Deakin University, Melbourne where she is unit chair in the undergraduate and JD programs teaching Contemporary International Legal Challenges – including War Crimes, ‘Modern Slavery’, Terrorism and Climate Change Law and she is involved in the clinical programs.

She is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Health and Society at Salford University, researching the health and law intersection in FGM, Autism and Child Rights.

Felicity specialises in International Criminal Law, Terrorism, Homicide and Modern Slavery Law. She has a particular interest in the law on complicity, whether by way of command responsibility and joint criminal enterprise in international law or complicity by principals or accessories in domestic law: She is leading a team led a team seeking to file an Amicus Curiae Brief in the ICC in the Appeal of Dominic Ongwen on the applicability of Modern Slavery law. She previously led a team of academics and practitioners who were given leave to file an Amicus Curiae Brief in the ICTY on JCEIII liability.

She was recently instructed by the Australian Centre for International Justice to provide a legal memo on investment in Myanmar and she has led a submission to the UK and Australian Governments on women, peace and security in Afghanistan.

In addition, Felicity has the following INTERNATIONAL LAW publications:

  • Felicity Gerry, ‘Commentary’ on 4 cases in the ICCC in Andre Klip and Steven Freeland (eds), Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals (Intersentia,).
  • Felicity Gerry et al, ‘Like David Hicks, the Australian ‘Shamima Begum’ Should Issue a Writ for Habeas Corpus’, Opinio Juris (online, 15 April 2021).
  • Eamon Kelly, Felicity Gerry, Sue Milne and Cate Read, ‘As lockdown lifts, it is time to repatriate women and children held in Syrian camps’ (2020) 14 ANZSIL Perspective 3
  • Sue Milne, Cate Read, Eamonn Kelly and Felicity Gerry, ‘Allegiance is a Bond of Protection Not a Means through which to Deliver a Punitive Moral Judgment’ (2020) 16 ANZSIL Perspective 16.
  • Azadah Raz Mohammad, Anna McNeil and Felicity Gerry, ‘Accountability for the perpetration of war crimes in Afghanistan’ (2020) 18 ANZIL Perspective 18.
  • Felicity Gerry, Eva Buzo and Anna McNeil, ‘Genocide, the duty to protect and complicity: Is Australia sailing close to the wind in Myanmar?’ (2020) 17 ANZSIL Perspective 13.
  • Felicity Gerry, ‘Commentary’ on Toma Fila disciplinary appeal in the ICTY in Andre Klip and Steven Freeland (eds), Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals (Intersentia, 2019) 261.
  • Felicity Gerry, ‘Practitioner perspective: Feminism in court – practical solutions for tackling the wicked problem of women’s invisibility in criminal justice’ in Susan Harris Rimmer and Kate Ogg (eds), Research Handbook on The Future of Feminist Engagement with International Law (Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2019) 399.
  • ICC Moot Court Manual 2012: Chapter on ICC Structure and Command Responsibility. Professor Felicity Gerry QC