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Melanie O'Brien
Melanie O'Brien
07 3735 1034

Dr Melanie O’Brien is a research fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

Melanie's research and supervision areas include peacekeeping, international criminal law, international humanitarian law (IHL), human rights, feminist legal theory, public international law, comparative criminal law, and military law. She has published in leading academic journals, including the Journal of Conflict and Security Law, and the International Criminal Law Review. She is a member of the Editorial Boards of Human Rights Review, and Genocide Studies and Prevention. Melanie is a member of the Australian Committee of the Armed Forces Law Association of New Zealand, and the Advisory Board of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS). She is also a member of the QLD IHL Committee of the Australian Red Cross. Melanie has presented papers at many national and international conferences, including the IAGS conference and the Socio-Legal Studies Association conference. She is the Gender Issues Expert of the Group of Experts for the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War's Manual for the International Law in Peace Operations Project.

Melanie's research projects have included guilt admissions in international criminal justice; interview techniques in international courts and tribunals; expanding the mandate of CivPol in UN peace operations; peacekeeper accountability for SEA; and various cases of interest in transnational and international criminal law, including the Gabe Watson case, maritime piracy, and gender-based crimes in international criminal law.


Melanie has been a Griffith Asia Institute Australia China Futures Dialogues Visiting Fellow to Peking University, China, undertaken in conjunction with a visit to Beijing Normal University; a delegate observer for the American Society of International Law at the 52nd Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women at UN Headquarters in New York; and the recipient of a Gandel Philanthropy Scholarship to participate in the 2012-3 Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators, at Yad Vashem in Israel.


Melanie recently took leave to undertake the role of Human Rights Legal Officer at the Samoa National Human Rights Institution/Office of the Ombudsman, through Australian Volunteers for International Development. Her work was part of the new NHRI of Samoa, writing advice on rights-related issues of a sex offender registry for Samoa, reviewing the Samoa Police Professional Standards Unit, writing advice on police accountability for the NHRI, working on disability rights issues, and assisted with the official launch of the NHRI.


  • PhD (University of Nottingham, UK)
  • LLM in International Human Rights Law (Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, University of Lund, Sweden)
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
  • BA/LLB (University of Newcastle, Australia)


During her PhD, Melanie was a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Germany; and the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law at the University of Melbourne, Australia. 

Melanie’s previous work includes the Legal Advisory Section of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court; the International Criminal Justice Unit of the Nottingham University Human Rights Law Centre; the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations; for the Raoul Wallenberg Institute; at the Australian Law Reform Commission; and at the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office. She is an admitted legal practitioner.


Follow Melanie on Twitter @DrMelOB https://twitter.com/DrMelOB


Book Chapters


O'Brien & Kebbell, 'Interview Techniques in International Criminal Courts and Tribunals', in Ray Bull (ed.), Investigative Interviewing (Springer, New York, 2014), pp. 91-101.


'State Responsibility for Sexual Exploitation and Abuse as Human Rights Violations by Peacekeepers’, in Aoife Padraigín Foley (ed.), Ethics, Evil, Law and the State: State Power and Political Evil (Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, 2011), pp. 17-28. ISBN: 978-1-84888-077-1 Available at http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/publishing/id-press/

‘The Draft Convention on the Criminal Accountability of United Nations Officials and Experts on Mission’, in N. Quenivet and S. Shah (eds.), International Law and Armed Conflict (T.M.C. Asser Press, 2010) pp. 57-75.

Refereed Journal Articles

Simic and O'Brien, ''Peacekeeper Babies': An Unitented Legacy of United Nations Peace Support Operations', International Peacekeeping 21 (3) (2014).


'Where Security Meets Justice: Prosecuting Maritime Piracy in the International Criminal Court', Asian Journal of International Law 4 (1) (2014) 81-102.


'From Sexual Exploitation to Srebrenica: State Responsibility for Criminal Misconduct by Peacekeepers', New Zealand & Australian Armed Forces Law Review 10 & 11 (2013) 125-147.


'Prosecutorial Discretion as an Obstacle to Prosecution of Peacekeepers by the ICC: The Big Fish/Small Debate and the Gravity Threshold', Journal of International Criminal Justice10 (3) (2012) 525-545.


‘Protectors on Trial? Prosecuting Peacekeepers for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in the International Criminal Court’, International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice 40 (3) (2012) 223-241.


‘Sexual Exploitation and Beyond: Using the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to Prosecute UN Peacekeepers for Gender-based Crimes’, International Criminal Law Review 11 (4) (2011) 803-827.


‘The Ascension of Blue Beret Accountability: International Criminal Court Command and Superior Responsibility in Peace Operations’, Journal of Conflict and Security Law 15 (3) (2010) 533-555.


‘The Impact of the Iraq Communication of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on War Crimes Admissibility and the Interests of Victims’, University College Dublin Law Review (2007 Symposium Edition) 109-125.


Refereed Conference Publications

‘Climate Change and Human Rights in the Pacific’, in Baker-Jones, M., Burton, DL., Bell, J., and Chang Seng, D. (eds.), Climate change adaptation: Guided by the Law (DLA Piper, Brisbane, 2013), pp. 19-20 available at http://www.dlapiper.com/files/Uploads/Documents/climate-change-adaptation-guided-by-the-law.pdf


‘Society is Entitled to But One Satisfaction: Ne bis in idem and jurisdiction questions in the Gabe Watson case’, Crime, Justice and Social Democracy (Queensland University of Technology, 26-28 September, 2011), pp. 61-78.


Case Notes

'Minister for Home Affairs of the Commonwealth v Zentai', Australian International Law Journal (2013), pp. 189-196.


Media Selections


Double jeopardy issues in the Gabe Watson case, Madonna King show, ABC Radio Brisbane, 26 September 2011.


Louise Hall, 'Honeymoon trial double jeopardy risk', The Age (26 September 2011), available at http://www.theage.com.au/national/honeymoon-trial-double-jeopardy-risk-20110925-1krs0.html 


AAP, 'Gabe Watson retrial violates rights: lawyer', Townsville Bulletin (26 September 2011), available at http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2011/09/26/269835_news.html


Journal Articles


‘Prosecuting peacekeepers in the ICC for human trafficking’, St Thomas Intercultural Human Rights Law Review 1 (2006) 281-328.


Book Reviews

Balkan Genocides: Holocaust and Ethnice Cleansing by Paul Mozjes, E-International Relations (2014) http://www.e-ir.info/2014/06/03/review-balkan-genocides-holocaust-and-ethnic-cleansing/  


Forgotten Genocides: Oblivion, Denial and Memory by Rene Lemarchand, ed., Human Rights Review 14(1) (2013), pp. 67-68.

Member type - Research Fellows
Research Interests - Criminal Law and Procedure;, Feminist Legal Theories, Gender, Race, Crime, Justice;, Human Rights Law;, International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Law, International Refugee Regime, Peacekeeping