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Associate Professor in International Law, The University of Western Australia

Dr Melanie O’Brien is Associate Professor of International Law at the UWA Law School. Dr O'Brien is President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and a member of the WA International Humanitarian Law Committee of the Australian Red Cross.

Dr O'Brien's research focuses on genocide and human rights; and sexual and gender-based violence against women. Her work on forced marriage has been cited by the International Criminal Court, and she has been an expert panellist on genocide prevention for the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. She is the author of Criminalising Peackeepers: Modernising National Approaches to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (Palgrave 2017), and has a forthcoming book, From Discrimination to Death: The Genocide Process through a Human Rights Lens (Routledge).

Dr O'Brien is an admitted legal practitioner of the Supreme Court of NSW. She has previously worked at Anti-Slavery Australia UTS, Griffith University, the National Human Rights Institution of Samoa, and the International Criminal Court.


  • 2018–present
    Senior lecturer, University of Western Australia
  • 2015–2017
    Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Queensland
  • 2013–2014
    Human rights legal officer, National Human Rights Institution of Samoa
  • 2010–2014
    Research fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security, Griffith University
  • 2014–2014
    International law researcher, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney
  • 2006–2007
    Legal research assistant, Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham
  • 2004–2005
    Law clerk, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court


  • 2010 
    University of Nottingham, PhD in International Law
  • 2004 
    Raoul Wallenberg Institute, University of Lund, LLM in International Human Rights Law
  • 2003 
    University of Technology Sydney, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice
  • 2002 
    University of Newcastle, Bachelor of Laws
  • 2000 
    University of Newcastle, Bachelor of Arts