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Dr Amy Maguire

Senior Lecturer

Newcastle Law School

Disrupting the International Law Agenda

Dr Amy Maguire, from the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Newcastle (UON), is putting the rights of displaced people back on the agenda in international law.

Amy Maguire 

Amy's research in the area of 'self-determination' is a topic that has been off the radar in international law but it could soon be sharply back in focus.

Self-determination is the collective human right of a people to determine their political, social, cultural and economic future. Dr Maguire's research has focused on self-determination for peoples who claim a contemporary colonial experience that has not been adequately addressed by international law or the nation states in which they live.

"These cases can become complicated when a group is making a self-determination claim under international law – for example an indigenous population - yet the settler population has established their own identity, such as we've seen in Australia. So we have two parties asserting self-determination on the same territory. We must be careful in this instance to balance the rights of both parties and avoid repeating the injustices of the past."

The right to self-determination is not only relevant to indigenous populations but can have far reaching implications for displaced peoples all over the world. Dr Maguire is now extending her research to peoples displaced by climate change, including those from small Pacific island states who are beginning to bear the effects of environmental change.

"Self-determination is a concept that we can draw on from the past that has real applications in the present, given the large number of people who are already starting to seek refuge from environmental change in neighbouring countries. When these people are relocated, a number of legal questions arise such as their right to remain together, to maintain their identity, or maintain some forms of sovereignty."

As sea levels rise and drought spreads the question of self-determination could become more prominent in international law. In 2013, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that approximately 22 million people were displaced as a result of climate change, a figure that has been projected to reach 200 million by 2050.

Dr Maguire is now collaborating with Dr Jeffrey McGee at the University of Tasmania to explore how the right to self-determination could help to shape official responses to climate change. Importing self-determination into the field of climate change governance would be a world-first from the two Australian researchers. 

"The rights of people aren't sufficiently influencing decision making in the response to climate change. The debate has focused more on governmental responses and emissions reduction targets but in the end, it's the people impacted whose experiences and rights ought to be respected."

An advocate for humanity in controversial public debates, Dr Maguire has become a popular legal commentator with multiple articles published on The Conversation. Her legal commentary spans several key areas including refugees, asylum seekers, Indigenous rights, and capital punishment. The most recent article published by Dr Maguire on The Conversation addresses Australia's role in the abolition of capital punishment world-wide.

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Disrupting the International Law Agenda

Dr Amy Maguire's research relates to the collective human right to self-determination, with particular focus on Indigenous peopl

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Career Summary


Dr Amy Maguire is a Senior Lecturer in international law and an active commentator on international legal and human rights issues. She is also Program Convenor for the LLB (Hons) program and Chair of the Program Management Group at Newcastle Law School. Her fields of research are public international law and human rights, with particular focus on self-determination, Indigenous rights, climate change, refugees and asylum seekers, the death penalty, and the Indigenisation of curriculum. Amy has ongoing research collaborations with UoN and external partners in the fields of climate change and human rights, legal regulation of climate change mitigation strategies, Indigenisation of curriculum, and blended/active teaching and learning. In recent years, she has published widely in highly-regarded journals and edited books.

Amy has also emerged as a national and international commentator in her fields of research, with a number of online publications, media engagements, invited talks and submissions to government inquiries. In 2015, she was invited to appear before and assist the federal parliamentary inquiry into 'Australia's advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty'. 

Amy has pioneered innovative approaches to teaching that have enhanced her students' experience of learning in international law and other fields. She was most recently recognised with the 2015 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Faculty of Business and Law. Amy's commitment to Indigenisation is expressed through her teaching in the course Indigenous Peoples, Issues and the Law. She has also shown leadership in program and course design, as part of her broader commitment to collegial service to the University.  

Research expertise

Dr Maguire's PhD was awarded in December 2011. Her doctoral research explored the collective human right to self-determination, with particular focus on Indigenous peoples in Australia and Irish nationalists in the North of Ireland. Amy argued in her thesis that self-determination retains a mission of decolonisation in the twenty-first century, and sought to address the contemporary colonial experience of peoples in settler colonial societies. 

Dr Maguire's current research extends to a range of fields in public international and human rights law, with a unifying concern for holding governments accountable to human rights obligations. Her online research engagements, most notably through publication in The Conversation, have helped to extend Amy's research to a range of fields in which she aims to contribute to policy development and just outcomes for individuals and communities.


  • PhD (Law), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Newcastle


  • Climate change and human rights
  • Colonialism and international law
  • Death penalty
  • Human rights
  • Indigenisation
  • Indigenous Peoples, Issues and the Law
  • Indigenous legal issues
  • Public International Law
  • Refugees and human rights
  • Self-determination

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
180116 International Law (excl. International Trade Law) 50
180114 Human Rights Law 50

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
Newcastle Law School

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
3/08/2015 -  Indigenisation of Curriculum Committee The University of Newcastle
8/04/2013 -  Newcastle Law School Program Management Group Newcastle Law School
8/04/2013 -  Teaching and Learning Committee Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle
1/04/2013 -  Undergraduate Program Convenor Newcastle Law School
12/03/2012 - 31/12/2015 Lecturer Newcastle Law School
1/06/2011 - 16/03/2012 Co-Chair Faculty of Business and Law Academic Women's Network
3/01/2011 -  Indigenous Student Liaison Newcastle Law School
1/01/2008 -  Membership - Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
31/05/2015 -  Sub-Committee Member - Indigenous Rights (Australian Lawyers for Human Rights) Indigenous Rights Sub-Committee, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights



Year Award
2015 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Faculty of Business and Law
The University of Newcastle
2015 Faculty of Business and Law Excellence in Law Teaching Award 2014
Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle

Research Award

Year Award
2010 Faculty of Business and Law Research Higher Degree Best Publication Award
University of Newcastle



Year Title / Rationale
2015 Active Learning in Law Symposium
2015 World Day Against the Death Penalty Forum


Code Course Role Duration
LAWS4012 Public International Law
Newcastle Law School
Course Coordinator 1/07/2008 - 31/12/2016


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Chapter (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2009 Maguire AM, ''Security starts with the law': The role of international law in the protection of women's security post-conflict', The Role of International Law in Rebuilding Societies After Conflict: Great Expectations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 218-243 (2009) [B1]
DOI 10.1017/CBO9780511576478.012

Journal article (10 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Maguire AM, Young T, 'INDIGENISATION OF CURRICULA: CURRENT TEACHING PRACTICES IN LAW', Legal Education Review, 25 (2016)
Co-authors Tamara Young
2015 Maguire AM, Bereicua L, Fleming A, Freeman O, 'Australia, Asylum Seekers and Crimes Against Humanity?', Alternative Law Journal, 40 185-189 (2015) [C1]
2015 Brent KA, McGee JS, Maguire AM, 'Does the ¿No-Harm¿ Rule Have a Role in Preventing Transboundary Harm and Harm to the Global Atmospheric Commons from Geoengineering?', Climate Law, 5 35-63 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1163/18786561-00501007
Citations Scopus - 1
2014 Maguire AM, 'Self-determination, Justice, and a 'Peace Process': Irish Nationalism, the Contemporary Colonial Experience and the Good Friday Agreement', Seattle Journal for Social Justice, 13 537-581 (2014) [C1]
2013 Maguire AM, 'Contemporary Anti-colonial Self-determination Claims and the Decolonisation of International Law', Griffith Law Review, 22 238-268 (2013) [C1]
2010 Howard-Wagner D, Maguire AM, ''The Holy Grail' or 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'?: A qualitative exploration of the ILUAs agreement-making process and the relationship between ILUAs and native title', Australian Indigenous Law Review, 14 71-85 (2010) [C1]
2008 Maguire AM, 'Law protecting rights: Restoring the law of self-determination in the neo-classical world', Law Text Culture, 12 12-39 (2008) [C1]
2006 Hamber B, Hillyard P, Maguire AM, McWilliams M, Robinson G, Russell D, Ward M, 'Discourses in transition: Re-imaging women's security', International Relations, 20 487-502 (2006) [C1]
DOI 10.1177/0047117806069410
2006 Maguire AM, 'Murdering myths: The story behind the death penalty (Book review)', British Journal of Criminology, 46 532-534 (2006) [C3]
Show 7 more journal articles

Grants and Funding


Number of grants 2
Total funding $44,920

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20161 grants / $20,000

Evidence-Based Law and Practice Priority Research Initiative$20,000

The Evidence-based Law and Practice (ELP) Priority Research Initiative will provide a coherent organising theme for research activity to be conducted within four thematic areas: Legal Education, Equity & Scholarship; Health, Justice & Social Affairs; Human Rights & International Affairs; and Business, Regulation & Compliance. The work undertaken as part of this PRI will help build a distinctive and innovative profile for research at Newcastle Law School. The PRI will enable us to become leaders in building a research space around the evidence-based theme, expand our research collaborations and impacts, and build our research capacity, including developing advanced research skills and attracting and mentoring research higher degree students and early career researchers.

Funding body: Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle
Project Team
Scheme Priority Research Initiatives
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

20111 grants / $24,920

The Right to Self-Determination in International Law: A study of the colonial experiences of Irish nationalists and Indigenous peoples in Australia$24,920

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Amy Maguire
Scheme Equity Research Fellowship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2011
Funding Finish 2011
GNo G1000910
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

Research Supervision

Number of supervisions


Total current UON EFTSL


Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 PhD Climate Change Adaptation in the Pacific Small Island Developing States: Institutional Design for Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Human Rights
PhD (Politics), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle
2013 PhD An Analysis of the Failed West Papua De-colonisation Process: National Narrative versus the Rights of a Non-self-governing Territory
PhD (Politics), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle
2013 PhD The Potential of the ‘No-Harm’ Rule to Prevent Transboundary Harm and Harm to the Global Atmospheric Commons from SRM Geoengineering
Law, University of Tasmania


Australia can do better on Asian boat crisis than ‘nope, nope, nope’

May 29, 2015

Dr Amy Maguire of the Newcastle Law School discusses Australia's response to the Rohingya refugee crisis

Is Australia guilty of crimes against humanity?

October 27, 2014

Dr Amy Maguire examines if the International Criminal Court could prosecute Australia for crimes against humanity?

A referendum in Northern Ireland could mean more than just Yes or No

October 9, 2014

Dr Amy Maguire discusses renewed calls for Northern Ireland to leave the UK in The Conversation

Newcastle Law School panel accepted at prestigious conference

September 22, 2014

Newcastle Law School-proposed panel accepted at the prestigious International Studies Association conference

Is Australia a Responsible International Citizen?

August 20, 2014

Newcastle Law School academic Dr Amy Maguire discusses Australia's current asylum seeker policy

High Court of Australia

Australia’s global reputation at stake in High Court asylum case

July 22, 2014

Dr Amy Maguire comments on Sri Lankan asylum seekers' case.

Dr Amy Maguire


Senior Lecturer
Newcastle Law School
Faculty of Business and Law

Contact Details

Phone (02) 4921 5374
Links Research Networks
Research Networks
Research Networks


Room MC159c
Building McMullin Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308