Withdrawing from International Law?

Free Public Lecture

Withdrawing from International Law?

The David P. Derham Theatre, Level 1
Melbourne Law School
185 Pelham Street


More information

T: 9035 1111


2017 Sir George Turner Memorial Lecture

The international legal system has been showing signs of instability and insecurity. States have been withdrawing from multilateral treaties – for example, South Africa from the Rome Treaty for an International Criminal Court, the United Kingdom from the European Union, the United States from the Paris Agreement. Some states have been withdrawing from their investment protection treaties. Other signs of insecurity include non-appearance before international tribunals, rejection of unfavourable decisions, a weakening of the Optional Clause mechanism and denial of responsibility for refugee flows.

What does this portend? Are states entirely free to choose from the smorgasbord of international legal rules on offer? Are they free not to dine at all, to reject the underlying institutions and with them their commitments to each other?

About the Sir George Turner Memorial Lecture

The Sir George Turner Memorial Lectures were established in 1944 when Grace Melvin Turner bequeathed in her will the establishment of a lectureship in memory of her father, Sir George Turner. Sir George was admitted to practice in 1881. He was Mayor of St Kilda from 1887 to 1888, elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1889 and became Solicitor-General for Victoria in 1892. In 1894 he became Premier of Victoria. He died on 13 August 1916.


  • Judge James  Crawford