Alumni insights

Interview with Jade Roberts

2012 Jade RobertsQ: Where are you living and what are you doing now? What led you to choose this path?

I am living in Geneva and have recently completed a Master in International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, specialising in international human rights, refugee and migration law. In September I will commence a PhD in International Law and as a Research Assistant with the Global Migration Centre at the Institute. I am also a lecturer with the Murdoch University International Human Rights Law Program, teaching international human rights law, coordinating visits to the United Nations and international organizations and organizing career events for the 40 or so undergraduate law students who visit Geneva each year with the Program.

I chose to work in this area after spending a month volunteering inside the immigration detention centres on Christmas Island in 2010. I was so shocked by the conditions of detention and so appalled by Australia’s policy of deliberately inflicting suffering upon people in need that I resolved to do what I could to help. While studying for my law degree at UWA, I completed a Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law and Practice at Murdoch University and became a Registered Migration Agent. For three years I volunteered at CASE For Refugees (now The Humanitarian Group), completing refugee, humanitarian and family reunion visa applications and assisting establish a legal clearinghouse for the judicial review of immigration decisions. While at UWA I also approached human rights lawyers George Newhouse and Dan Mori and began volunteering with them in the Social Justice Practice of Shine Lawyers in Perth. After graduating from UWA l moved to Melbourne to work as Dan’s personal assistant, working on cases relating to the treatment of children in detention facilities, coronial enquiries into asylum seeker deaths at sea and abuse within the military. Since living in Geneva, I have continued my work in this area with the OHCHR, international NGOs and a human rights consultancy company.

Q: What is the latest topic on your mind?

The topic I have been working on for the last six months is climate change displacement. According to some estimates, up to 250 million people may be displaced by the impacts of climate change by the year 2050. For a number of reasons, climate change will disproportionately affect developing countries. Thus, those who have contributed the least to climate change in terms of greenhouse gas emissions are being the first and will be the worst affected. This injustice was the motivation for my Master thesis, which argued that those States which have contributed the most to climate change bear responsibility in international law to protect and accommodate those who are displaced by its impacts.

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