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Katherine Fallah


Katherine Fallah specialises in public international law and criminal law. She has a particular interest in critical perspectives on the global regulation of violence, and her current research focuses on international efforts to regulate the private military industry. Prior to joining the UTS Faculty of Law in March 2011, Katherine held a Faculty position at Sydney Law School. She has held visiting fellowships and doctoral research positions at Harvard Law School, the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, the Paris Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, and the European University Institute, Florence.

Before taking up her academic appointments, Katherine served as a Prosecution Officer at the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Research Associate to the Judges of the Federal Court of Australia, and paralegal and law clerk at major commercial law firms in Sydney. She has worked with Professor Jenni Millbank as Senior Researcher on an ARC project on the ‘particular social group’ ground in the Refugees Convention and has contributed to a variety of public interest projects, including as a volunteer with the death row defence team at the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Centre in New Orleans.

Katherine sits on the NSW International Humanitarian Law Committee for the Australian Red Cross and is a Member of the International and Comparative Criminal Justice Network. In 2003 she was a recipient of the Prix Jean-Pictet for international humanitarian law. She is admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW.

Lecturer, Faculty of Law
Bachelor of Jurisprudence, Bachelor of Laws, PhD (Sydney)
+61 2 9514 3495

Research Interests

Research interests include:
  • Outsourced and offshore immigration detention
  • Strategic litigation
  • Transparency in warfare
  • New technologies of war
  • Militarised policing
  • Private military and security contracting

Courses taught at UTS

  • Public International Law
  • Principles of Public International Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Jessup International Law Moot

Courses taught at other institutions
  • Public International Law
  • Private International Law
  • War Law: International Humanitarian Law
  • Civil and Criminal Procedure
  • International Law and Australian Institutions


Fallah, K.L. 2007, 'Regulating private security contractors in armed conflicts' in Gumedze Sabelo (ed), Private Security in Africa: Manifestation, Challenges and Regulation, Institute for Security Studies, South Africa, pp. 97-123.


Fallah, K.L. 2014, 'Performing the Ceremonies of Law: Quasi-Legal Accountability Measures as Legitimation Bids', Law and Boundaries / Droit et Limites, Sciences Po Law School, Paris.
Fallah, K.L. 2014, 'Making War and Making Law: The Corporation in the Global Regulation of Military Violence', Corporate Power in Global Society: Explication, Critique, Engagement, and Resistance, Harvard Law School.
Fallah, K.L. 2013, 'Constructing the "Humanitarian": The Regulatory Impact of Self-Characterisation of the Private Military Industry', 'Power, Privilege, and the Pursuit of Justice: Legal Challenges in Precarious Times', Law and Society Annual Meeting, Boston.
Fallah, K.L. 2013, 'Corporate Construction of "Humanitarianism": The Regulatory Impact of Self-Characterization of the Private Military Industry', IGLP: The Conference, Harvard Law School, Institute for Global Law and Policy.
Fallah, K.L. 2013, 'Private Military Contractors and the Construction of 'Humanitarianism'', Legal Research 3 Conference, Sydney Law School, Sydney.
Fallah, K.L. 2012, 'Private Military Violence and the Inner Boundaries of International Law: Reading 'Unjust Combatancy' Theories Alongside the Jus ad Bellum / Jus in Bello Distinction', Conference on Law and Boundaries / Droit et Limites, Sciences Po Law School, Paris.
Fallah, K.L. 2011, 'International Law and the Right of Self-Defence', Centre for International and Public Law and Australian Centre for Military Law and Justice Forum, Tampa and 9/11: Ten Years On - Reflections on Developments in International Law, Australian National University, Canberra.
Fallah, K.L. 2011, 'Strangers with Knives Between Their Teeth: The Relationship between International Law and Domestic Efforts to Outlaw Mercenary Activity in Africa', Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa Research Discussion Series, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Fallah, K.L. 2008, 'Citizen Soldiers and Alien Outlaws: National Membership and the Transformation of Military Violence', Fourth Global Conference on Pluralism, Inclusion and Citizenship, Salzburg, Austria.
Fallah, K.L. 2008, 'Criminalising Mercenarism in Africa: Legal Challenges and Options for Reform', Conference on the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa, African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Fallah, K.L. 2007, 'Regulating Private Security Contractors in Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law and the Principle of Distinction', Conference on the Regulation of the Private Security Sector in Africa, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa.
Fallah, K.L. 2007, 'At War with the Rule of Law: Guantánamo, Iraq and Legal Black Holes', Racism, Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror, University of Sydney, Australia.
Fallah, K.L. 2006, 'Terrorism and the Rule of Law: How American Exceptionalism in Guantánamo Undermines the Legal Protection of Private Military Contractors in Iraq', Australasian Law and Society Conference, Right or Racket? The Protection of Law, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia.
Fallah, K.L. 2006, 'Straining at the Periphery? International Humanitarian Law and its Application to the Private Military Industry in Iraq', Emergence of Customary International Humanitarian Law Conference, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.

Journal articles

Fallah, K.L. 2017, 'Re Georgio: An Intimate Account of Transgender Interactions with Law and Society', Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 6-39.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
In its everyday operation, the law presumes to narrate trans stories and shape trans lives. This article shines a light on law's claims to authority over transgender identities and transgender bodies, and offers an alternate, intimate account of one transgender person's interactions with law and society. The stories recounted here offer glimpses into the life of Georgio. Written from the perspective of someone who has had the privilege of bearing witness to his journey, this article assembles incomplete fragments of the joys and frustrations of Georgio's gender transition and invites deeper reflection on legal assumptions about the lives of transgender people. It represents an attempt to breathe humanity into law's cold scripts of gender identity.
Fallah, K.L. 2006, 'Perpetrators and Victims: Prosecuting Children for the Commission of International Crimes', African Journal of International and Comparative Law, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 83-103.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Everyone talks about "the impact of war on children". But how do you measure the impact of war? Who suffers the greater horror, the child who is violated, or the child who is forced to become a perpetrator? We are the victim, the perpetrator and the witness, all at once.1 Where an individual can be held responsible for their actions, failure to bring them to justice will support impunity and lead to a denial of justice to their victims. It may even encourage the use of children to commit atrocities.2 , We were saying: Rule, glory, power - is all for us. But we were only dogs of the king, and we enjoyed it for a very short period
Fallah, K.L. 2006, 'Corporate Actors: The Legal Status of Mercenaries in Armed Conflict', International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 88, no. 863, pp. 599-611.
Corporate actors are taking on an increasingly significant role in the prosecution of modern warfare. Traditionally, an analysis of the law applicable to corporate actors in armed conflict commences with inquiry into the law as it applies to mercenaries. As such, the rise of the private military industry invites a reconsideration of the conventional approach to mercenaries under international law. This article critically surveys the conventional law as it applies to mercenaries, and considers the extent to which corporate actors might meet the legal definitions of a ``mercenary. It demonstrates that even mercenaries receive protection under international humanitarian law


Fallah, K.L., 'Making War and Making Law: The Generation of International Legal Norms to Regulate Private Military Violence'.
Private military violence occupies a space at the periphery of international law, uncomfortably straddling the lines between the public and the private, the domestic and the international, armed conflict and law enforcement, civilian and combatant, and even personnel and materiel. This thesis approaches the problem of private military violence by considering how international humanitarian law's inner boundaries and core categories shape and constrain ongoing efforts to regulate the industry. It argues that private contractors, like other non-State actors in war, challenge some of the core assumptions of international law and expose critical contradictions in international law's execution of its humanitarian project. In questioning the sharpness of three of international humanitarian law's core distinctions, this study of private military contractors provides an entry point for a deeper critique of the laws of war. Given the position of contractors at the periphery of international law, the ongoing contest over their legitimacy offers important insights into the ways in which the international regulation of warfare involves strategic, normative decisions about the privileging and ranking of different forms of violence. This study considers the place of private military contractors in international law's ordering of irregular violence. The thesis argues that, like other international actors, the private military industry exploits international law's inner boundaries and contradictions, using them as manoeuvring tools to position themselves as legitimate actors in armed conflict. I build on the work of critical scholars such as David Kennedy and Nathaniel Berman to challenge international law's claims to universality and objectivity. I argue that by their structure and content, the laws of war systematically privilege some actors while stigmatising others, and that contractors have proven remarkably successful at positioning themselves on the side of privilege. ...