UNSW Sydney


Professor of Law, University of New South Wales, Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law

Guy S. Goodwin-Gill is a Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales and the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW. He is Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law, and an Honorary Associate of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre. He practised as a Barrister at Blackstone Chambers, London, from 2002-18, specialising in public international law, human rights, citizenship, and refugee and asylum law. He represented pro bono the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as ‘Intervener’ in a number of appeals in the United Kingdom House of Lords and Court of Appeal, was counsel for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and he has acted also in the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. He was formerly Professor of Asylum Law at the University of Amsterdam, served as a Legal Adviser in the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from 1976-1988, was the President of Refugee & Migrant Justice (London) for 13 years, and President of the Media Appeals Board of Kosovo from 2000-03. He is the Founding Editor of the International Journal of Refugee Law (Oxford University Press), was Editor-in-Chief from 1989-2001, and has lectured and published widely on, among other topics, human rights, the responsibility of States, statelessness, free and fair elections, child soldiers, child rights, the international law governing the movement of people between States, and the protection of refugees. Together with Professor Jane McAdam and Emma Dunlop, he is currently preparing the fourth edition of The Refugee in International Law. Recent publications include, ‘The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Sources of International Refugee Law’, (2020) 69 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 1. In March 2020, he received the  Stefan A. Riesenfeld Memorial Award at Berkeley Law, for his contributions to international law and international refugee law: ‘The Lawyer and the Refugee’.



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  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Sources of International Refugee Law' (2020) 69 International and Compararive Law Quarterly 1
    The role of international organizations in international law-making tends to be downplayed in this largely State-centric world. The practice of UNHCR, however, is reason enough for a more sophisticated appreciation of the role that operational entities can play in stimulating State practice, and of how they may interact with and guide domestic courts in treaty interpretation and application. The ILC’s recently completed projects on customary international law and subsequent agreements and practice encourage a cautious approach, but the high degree of judicialization in refugee decision-making, the strong legal content in the international protection regime and the impact of UNHCR’s operational activities open the way for institutional and grass-roots developments, keeping the law in closer touch with social and political realities and with the needs of those displaced.
    ISBN: 0020-5893 (Print), 1471-6895 (Online)
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'United Nations Treaty-Making: Refugees and Stateless Persons' in Simon Chesterman, David Malone, Santiago Villalpando, (ed), Oxford Handbook of United Nations Treaties (Oxford University Press 2019)
    DOI: 10.1093/law/9780190947842.001.0001
    Refugees, stateless persons, and those without protection were among the first international problems faced by the League of Nations, almost from the moment of its creation. Building on the practice of the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Fridtjof Nansen, in securing agreement on issues such as identity and travel documents for those without or denied the nationality or protection of their country of origin, the United Nations took steps from its opening session onwards to ensure protection and facilitate solutions. It established its own organisations and promoted a series of treaties on refugees, stateless persons, and statelessness, which to this day remains the basic international legal framework. States, in turn, have recognised that refugees (and now migration) are an international issue, and that no State should be expected to shoulder alone the responsibilities of admission, protection, and solutions. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, is mandated to provide international protection, to assist Governments in finding solutions, to promote treaties and agreements, and to supervise their application. UNHCR’s direct engagement with States and its world-wide operational activities contribute significantly to the consolidation of protection principles, such as non-refoulement and asylum, to the expansion of humanitarian relief for the displaced, and to the progressive development of customary international law. Recent displacement crises, protracted refugee situations, greater mobility, and a highly globalized and securitised environment will bring fresh challenges to an international protection regime with nearly one hundred years of law and organization behind it.
    ISBN: 9780190947842
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Asylum (Colombia v. Peru), 1949 and Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 20 November 1950 in the Asylum Case (Colombia v. Peru), 1950' in Paula Wojcikiewicz Almeida, Jean-Marc Sorel (ed), Latin America and the International Court of Justice: Contributions to International Law (Routledge 2017)
    The Asylum Case is commonly cited for its approach to issues of evidence and proof in matters of customary international law, particularly at the regional level. Often overlooked, however, is the contribution which the Court also made to the general international law on protection and asylum, and not solely with regard to the incident of diplomatic asylum which led to the litigation. This chapter assesses the judgment, including some notable dissents and separate opinions, examines the ways in which it has been considered in the years since 1950, and evaluates its not insignificant impact and influence on international law.
    ISBN: 9781138858572
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Foreword' (2014) Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing Still Waiting for Tomorrow: The Law and Politics of Unresolved Refugee Crises vii
    ISBN: 978-1-4438-5664-5
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Introductory Note: Bundesrepublik Deutschland v Kaveh Puid (Case C-4/11), Court of Justice of the European Union, Grand Chamber, 14 November 2013' (2014) 53 American Society of International Law: International Legal Materials [Case Note]
    ISBN: 0020-7829
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Non-Refoulement, Temporary Refuge, and the “New” Asylum Seekers' in David J. Cantor & Jean-François Durieux (ed), Refuge from Inhumanity? War Refugees and International Humanitarian Law (Leiden: Brill Nijhoff 2014)
    ISBN: 978-9-0042-6158-7
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The International Law of Refugee Protection' in Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Gil Loescher, Katy Long & Nando Sigona (ed), The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2014)
    ISBN: 978-0-19-965243-3
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, Palestine, UN Membership and Popular Representation: International Legal Challenges and Strategic Options (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2013)
    ISBN: 978-1-4438-4656-1
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Dynamic of International Refugee Law' (2013) 25 Oxford University Press / International Journal of Refugee Law 651
    Reviews the first 25 years of the IJRL, examines current problems and developments, and looks ahead.
    ISBN: ISSN 0953-8186
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Europe: A place to seek, to be granted, and to enjoy asylum?' in Cristina Gortázar, María-Carolina Parra, Barbara Segaert & Christiane Timmerman (ed), European Migration and Asylum Policies: Coherence or Contradiction? (Bruylant 2012)
    Does the individual have a right to be granted asylum? The traditional answer has long been 'No', any right being that of the State to grant or not to grant. This chapter argues that there is indeed an obligation to grant asylum, drawing among others on elementary considerations of humanity and human rights obligations owed erga omnes. I argue further that this has legal and policy implications, in particular, for the EU, the Court of Justice, the Strasbourg Court, and States.
    ISBN: 978-2-8027-3602-8
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Challenge of the Child Soldier' in Hew Strachan, Sibylle Scheipers (ed), The Changing Character of War (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011)
    Reviews legal and institutional developments relating to child soldiers since publication of the author's initial study in 1994. Considers recent prosecutions of those accused of recuiting and using children in armed conflict, and examines the situation of child soldiers who may themselves have committed war crimes.
    ISBN: 978-0-19-959673-7
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Right to Seek Asylum: Interception at Sea and the Principle of Non-refoulement' (2011) 23 International Journal of Refugee Law 443
    Reviews current interception practices, particularly as conducted by EU Member States and the EU agency, Frontex, and considers the lawfulness of such operations in the light of EU law, the recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, and the international law background, including the right to seek asylum and the principle of non-refoulement.
    ISBN: 0953-8186
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Extra-Territorial Reach of Human Rights Obligations: A Brief Perspective on the Link to Jurisdiction' in Laurence Boisson de Chazournes & Marcelo G. Kohen (ed), International Law and the Quest for its Implementation/Le droit international et la quête de sa mise en oeuvre: Liber Amicorum Vera Gowlland-Debbas (Leiden: Brill 2010)
    This chapter examines when and how the principles of State responsibility can be translated into liability violations of human rights. It reviews actual and potential gaps in the law, considers jurisprudence and practice with reference to the concepts of territory and jurisdiction, and argues that in this context, 'jurisdiction' should be interpreted to include 'enforcement or prerogative jurisdiction'.
    ISBN: 978-90-04017714-7
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Search for the One, True Meaning...' in Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Hélène Lambert (ed), The Limits of Transnational Law: Refugee Law, Policy Harmonization and Judicial Dialogue in the European Union (Cambridge University Press 2010)
    The 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees now have 147 States parties, and consistent interpretation across multiple jurisdictions is clearly a desirable goal. This task falls almost exclusively on national courts, but in the absence of an international review body, each State must determine the scope of its own obligations. Within the EU, a common asylum policy and common approaches to the refugee definition are very much part of the agenda, and jurisprudence under the Qualification Directive is already beginning to emerge. UK courts have focused principally on Article 1 of the Convention – the refugee definition – and this chapter looks at that practice, and at the methodology employed. Although the courts readily accept and use the rules of interpretation set out in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, their approach still lacks consistency, particularly when faced with obscurity or the challenges of a ‘living instrument’. Also, they are uncertain what weight to give to the views of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and how those views fit within the scheme of interpretation is not always clear.
    ISBN: 978-0-521-19820-2
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, Sir Ian Brownlie CBE QC and Guy S. Goodwin-Gill (eds), Brownlie\'s Documents on Human Rights (6th edition Oxford: Oxford University Press 2010)
    An extensive updated collection of key documents covering all elements of the subject, plus commentary and bibliographic annotation. Organized by reference to UN instruments, UN sponsored conventions, ILO, UNESCO, and regional instruments.
    ISBN: 978-0-19-956404-0
  • G S Goodwin-Gill (ed), The Limits of Transnational Law: Refugee Law, Policy Harmonization and Judicial Dialogue in the European Union (Cambridge University Press 2010)
    State authority and power have become diffused in an increasingly globalized world characterized by the freer trans-border movement of people, objects and ideas. As a result, some international law scholars believe that a new world order is emerging based on a complex web of transnational networks. Such a transnational legal order requires sufficient dialogue between national courts. This book explores the prospects for such an order in the context of refugee law in Europe, focusing on the use of foreign law in refugee cases. Judicial practice is critically analysed in nine EU member states, with case studies revealing a mix of rational and cultural factors that lead judges rarely to use each other’s decisions within the EU. Conclusions are drawn for the prospects of a Common European Asylum System and for international refugee law.
    ISBN: 978-0-521-19820-2
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Politics of Refugee Protection' (2008) 27 Refugee Survey Quarterly 8
    This article looks back to the 1920s, and tries to tease out the politics of refugee protection as it evolved in the practice of States and international organizations in a period of growing ideological divide. The question addressed is whether the politics of protection at any particular moment are humanitarian or whether they serve primarily other purposes, in which the refugee is merely instrumental. It is unrealistic to imagine that the problem of refugees can ever be entirely non-political. What the history of the 1920–55 period confirms is the continued vitality of self-interest as a motivating factor in the responses of States to refugee flows. The international refugee regime that emerged in the late 1940s and early 1950s defined refugees through the politics of denunciation in a persecution-oriented definition that continues to limit and confuse, not only at the international operations level, but also in national asylum procedures. In this context, the article concludes that the art or UNHCR is not to allow solutions or assistance to have priority over protection. For if it cannot provide protection, it will be judged a failure and accountable, and not merely excused because it tried hard in difficult political circumstances.
    ISBN: 1020-4067
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Forced Migration: Refugees, Rights and Security' in Jane McAdam (ed), Forced Migration, Human Rights and Security (Oxford: Hart Publishing 2008)
    ISBN: 978-1-84113-770-4
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'International and National Responses to the Challenges of Mass Forced Displacement' in Handmaker, J., de la Hunt, L. A. & Klaaren, J. (ed), Advancing Refugee Protection in South Africa (Berghahn Books 2008)
    This introductory chapter discusses the context in which developments in South Africa have taken place. It considers how the Security Council first took note of refugee movements from a 'Chapter VII perspective', before the events of September 2001; and it looks at some of the challenges for refugee protection at the national level.
    ISBN: ISBN 9-781845-451097
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Extraterriorial Processing of Claims to Asylum or Protection: The Legal Responsibilities of States and International Organisations' (2008) 9 UTS Law Review
    This article lays out some of the international legal foundations governing the responsibility of States and international organizations when they undertake the processing of asylum seekers outside the country in which they are seeking refuge. It looks at the responsibility of States for conduct outside their territory; at the responsibility of international organizations, with particular reference to the protection of refugee rights; and at the responsibility of States for the conduct, acts and omissions of international organizations and of other States. It aims to show something of what international law does require, whenever a State elects to intercept or interdict asylum seekers, to transfer them to another State’s territory for ‘processing’, and to contract or engage the assistance of an international organization. Like many measures which a State may take in the grey, apparently unregulated areas of international law, off-shore processing is in fact subject to law, and subject to the rule of law; and so far too little recognition has been given to this and to the legal implications for both States and international organizations. The article concludes with a summary of relevant legal principles.
    ISBN: 26-40
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Everyone and the Citizen: The Devaluation of Principles and Protection' in Jenny Hocking and Colleen Lewis (eds), Counter-Terrorism and the Post-Democratic State (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham UK; Northampton, MA, USA 2007)
    This chapter considers briefly how 'anti-terrorism' measures have prejudiced the security of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, challenged the rule of law in the United Kingdom, and incidentally raised questions concerning the democratic entitlement to govern.
    ISBN: 978-1-84542-917-1
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Migrant Rights and Managed Migration' in Vincent Chetail, ed. (ed), Mondialisation, migration et droits de l'homme: le droit international en question / Globalization, Migration and Human Rights: International Law under Review (Bruylant 2007)
    ISBN: 978-2-8027-2338-7
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, Mary Hawkesworth, ed. and Maurice Kogan, ed., 'Immigration Policy' in Maurice Hawkesworth & Maurice Kogan, eds. (ed), Encyclopedia of Government and Politics, 2nd edn. (London: Routledge 2004)
    Describes current aspects of the debate over immigration policy in national and international affairs.
    ISBN: 0-415-27624-1
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'State Responsibility and the 'Good Faith' Obligation in International Law' in Malgosia Fitzmaurice & Dan Sarooshi, eds. (ed), Issues of State Responsibility before International Judicial Institutions (Hart Publishing 2004)
    ISBN: 1-84113-389-2
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Article 31 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees: Non-penalization, detention, and protection' in Erika Feller, Volker Turk, & Frances Nicholson, eds. (ed), Refugee Protection in International Law: UNHCR’s Global Consultations on International Protection (Cambridge. Cambridge University Press 2003)
    Examines the background (travaux preparatoires) to the drafting of Article 31 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which provides for the non-penalization of certain refugees entering or present in a State party without authorization. Reviews the implementation of this provision in the practice of States.
    ISBN: 0-521-53281-7
  • G S Goodwin-Gill and Kathleen Newland, 'Forced Migration and International Law' in T. Alexander Aleinikoff & Vincent Chetail, eds. (ed), Migration and International Legal Norms (The Hague: T. M. C. Asser Press 2003)
    A contribution to the "Berne Initiative", this chapter looks at the international law dimensions of forced migration, and at the constraints and options facing States.
    ISBN: 90-6704-157-2
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Refugees and Responsibility in the Twenty-First Century: More Lessons Learned from the South Pacific' (2003) 12 Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal 23
    Reviews international law relating to the rescue and subsequent treatment of asylum seekers in distress at sea; considers the legality of the Australian practice in relation to the MV Tampa, in light of earlier precedent and practice.
    ISBN: 1066-8632
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, Toleranz in einem Zeitalter der Ungewißheit / Tolerance in an Age of Uncertainty (Mary Levin Goldschmidt-Bollag Memorial Lecture, Herausgegeben von Willi Goetschel. Wien: Passagen Verlag 2002)
    Revised text in English and German of lecture delivered in German in Zurich in December 2001. Examines the notion of tolerance as 'human right', with reference to refugee movements and the grant of asylum in its (recent) historical and modern dimensions.
    ISBN: 3-85165-571-0
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Asylum 2001 – A Convention and a Purpose' (2001) 13 International Journal of Refugee Law 1
    Examines the future of asylum and the 1951 Convention/1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees
    ISBN: 0953-8186
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'Refugees: Challenges to Protection' (2001) 35 International Migration Review 130
    International law and refugees -- problems and challenges for the new millennium...
    ISBN: 0197-9183
  • G S Goodwin-Gill, 'The Individual Refugee, the 1951 Convention and the Treaty of Amsterdam' in Elspeth Guild & Carol Harlow, eds. (ed), Implementing Amsterdam (Oxford: Hart Publishing 2001)
    Examines proposed harmonisation measures in relation to asylum in the EU, with particular reference to its impact on individual rights and related international obligations.
    ISBN: 1-84113-116-4

Research programmes

Research Interests

Public International Law including international organisations, human rights, migrants and refugees, elections and democratisation; children's rights

Options taught

Human Rights Law, Public International Law

Research projects