Dr Gabrielle Simm joined UTS as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2015 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2018. She researches and teaches in international law.
She has held visiting positions at the European University Institute (Florence), UNSW, the Australian National University, and the University of British Columbia (Vancouver). Her publications include Sex in Peace Operations (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Peoples' Tribunals and International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2018) (co-edited with Andrew Byrnes).
Prior to commencing her PhD, she worked as an international lawyer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Attorney-General's Department in Canberra. She has also worked as a refugee lawyer at Victoria Legal Aid and in a voluntary capacity at the Refugee & Immigration Legal Service in Melbourne.
Admitted as a Legal Practitioner in Victoria and New South Wales
- Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law
- European Society of International Law
Co-Convenor, Interest Group on Gender and Sexuality in International Law (with Tamsin Paige, Deakin)
Can supervise: YES
- International Law
- International organisations
- Humanitarianism and disasters
- International law and film
- International law and technology
- Feminist, Critical and Socio-legal Theory
Public international Law
Byrnes, A & Simm, G 2018, Peoples' Tribunals and International Law, Cambridge University Press.
Peoples' Tribunals and International Law is the first book to analyse how civil society tribunals implement and develop international law.
Gabrielle Simm's critical re-evaluation of sex between international personnel and local people examines the zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and its international legal framework. Whereas most preceding studies of the issue have focused exclusively on military peacekeepers, Sex in Peace Operations also covers the private military contractors and humanitarian NGO workers who play increasingly important roles in peace operations. Informed by socio-legal studies, Simm uses three case studies (Bosnia, West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to illustrate the extent of the problem and demonstrate that the problems of impunity for sexual crimes are not just a failure of political will but the result of the structural weaknesses of international law in addressing non-state actors. Combining the insights of feminist critique with a regulatory approach to international law, her conclusions will interest scholars of international law, peace and conflict studies, gender and sexuality, and development.
Military assets, which include personnel, make an important contribution to disaster relief. However, military deployments can be politically sensitive, and the relevant international law is contested and not binding. This article compares two sets of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) Guidelines on this issue.
The 2007 Oslo Guidelines state that military assets should be used in disaster relief only as a last resort, while the 2014 Asia-Pacific Regional Guidelines acknowledge that military assets are often the first to respond to disasters in the region. Drawing on examples primarily from Asia, this article explores the apparent conflict between these two UN Guidelines and asks two questions about the deployment of foreign military assets in disaster relief. First, to what extent does international law authorize or limit the deployment of foreign military assets in disaster relief? Second, what are the politics of deploying military assets in disaster relief? This article argues that, rather than representing a global standard, the Oslo Guidelines better reflect European practice within Europe, while the Asia-Pacific Regional Guidelines are more representative of practice worldwide. It concludes that the type of military aid provided is key to its compliance with international law.
Simm, G 2018, 'Disaster Response in Southeast Asia: The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Response and Emergency Management', Asian Journal of International Law, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 116-142.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Southeast Asia includes some of the states at greatest risk of disasters worldwide, and ASEAN has been at the forefront of using international law to attempt to co-operate in disaster risk reduction and response. The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) is a regional treaty that has been hailed as among the world’s best practice: progressive, comprehensive, and, unusually for a disaster instrument, legally binding. This paper evaluates ASEAN’s responses to two mega-disasters: Cyclone Nargis that hit Myanmar in May 2008 and Super-typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda that hit the Philippines in November 2013. The paper aims further to investigate the role of non-state actors, such as civil society and the private sector, in institutionalizing and implementing AADMER.
Simm, G 2016, 'The Paris Peoples' Tribunal and the Istanbul Trials: Archives of the Armenian Genocide', Leiden Journal of International Law, vol. 29, no. 01, pp. 245-268.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This article explores the relationship between film and international law by reference to the feature film Zero Dark Thirty (2012). The authors examine this film in the context of international law, while also considering related questions of genre, torture, gender and targeted killing.
Simm, G & Byrnes, A 2014, 'International peoples' tribunals in Asia: Political theatre, juridical farce, or meaningful intervention?', Asian Journal of International Law, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 103-124.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Since the 1960s, over eighty international peoples' tribunals have been established outside formal state and international structures. Many have drawn on the forms and procedures of state-sponsored international tribunals and investigated whether states, international organizations, and transnational corporations have violated established norms of international law, while also seeking to infuse it with more progressive values. This paper first provides an overview of the history of international peoples' tribunals in Asia, then examines three tribunals that have focused on situations in Asia. We argue that not only do peoples' tribunals respond to a perceived gap in official structures of accountability, but they also perform other functions. These include building solidarity and networks, and recording and memorializing otherwise unacknowledged experiences. Further, such tribunals not only engage in holding states and others accountable informally but also articulate claims about the right of civil society to "own", interpret, and develop international law. © Asian Journal of International Law, 2014.
Byrnes, A & Simm, G 2013, 'Peoples' Tribunals, International Law and the Use of Force', University of New South Wales Law Journal, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 711-744.
Simm, G 2011, 'International Law as a Regulatory Framework for Sexual Crimes Committed by Peacekeepers', Journal of Conflict and Security Law, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 473-506.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Simm, G 2004, 'Negotiating the UN Trafficking Protocol: Feminist Debates', Australian Year Book of International Law, vol. 23, pp. 135-160.
Simm, G 2019, 'Gender, Disasters and International Law' in Harris Rimmer, S & Ogg, K (eds), Research Handbook on Feminist Engagement with International Law, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham UK, pp. 118-133.
Every year, disasters kill, injure and displace millions of people around the world, causing extensive property damage and incurring considerable economic costs. While disasters are often assumed to be ‘natural’, disasters and the response to them are beginning to be regarded as not just a misfortune but potentially an injustice for which government authorities or private actors can potentially be held responsible. Disasters do not affect everyone equally and gender-related injustice is apparent in preparation for, during, and in the response to, disasters. This chapter aims to analyse international law and disasters through a gender lens by asking two questions: where are the women? and what work is gender doing here? Drawing on studies of gender and disaster in sociology and human geography, the chapter analyses international law on gender in disaster response and risk reduction. It concludes that women are sometimes invisible in discussions of international law and disasters, while at other times they are foregrounded to the extent that they block other genders from view. The question of what work gender is doing in international law and disasters is more complex and requires context-specific analysis.
Byrnes, A & Simm, G 2018, 'International Peoples' Tribunals: Their Nature, Practice and Significance' in Byrnes, A & Simm, G (eds), Peoples' Tribunals and International Law, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, pp. 11-41.
This chapter by the editors provides a tour d'horizon of the phenomenon of international peoples' tribunals from their emergence on the stage in the late 1960s to the present. We explore the nature, composition, normative frameworks, legitimacy, impact and special contributions that peoples' tribunals have made to the development of a just international order and the implementation of human rights guarantees.
Byrnes, A & Simm, G 2018, 'Reflections on the Past and Future of International Peoples' Tribunals' in Byrnes, A & Simm, G (eds), Peoples' Tribunals and International Law, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 259-273.View/Download from: Publisher's site
In this chapter we draw together the major themes of the essays and reflect on the future of peoples' tribunals. The chapter engages with three substantive questions. First, to what extent are the peoples' tribunals discussed here representative of international peoples' tribunals more generally? Second, what is the relationship between peoples' tribunals, social movements and international law? Third, what impact do peoples' tribunals have on the implementation and development of international law?
Simm, G 2018, 'Peoples' Tribunals, Women's Courts and International Crimes of Sexual Violence' in Byrnes, A & Simm, G (eds), Peoples' Tribunals and International Law, Cambridge University Press, pp. 61-83.
This chapter compares peoples' tribunals with women's courts, focussing on international crimes of sexual violence.International criminal law has been the focus of much feminist activism and contestation to the extent that it has been claimed that 'feminism rules'. At the same time, unofficial or peoples' tribunals and women's courts - civil society initiatives - continue to proliferate. This chapter examines the treatment of international crimes of sexual violence by peoples' tribunals through a focus on the former Yugoslavia. It explores two key questions. First, what do peoples' tribunals offer to victim-survivors of international crimes of sexual violence that is lacking in official courts? Second, to what extent do 'mainstream' peoples' tribunals suffer from the same defects as official courts, thereby rendering 'women's tribunals' necessary?
Williams, S & Simm, G 2018, 'Assistance to Disaster Victims in an Armed Conflict: the Role of International Humanitarian Law' in Giustiniani, FZ, Sommario, E, Casolari, F & Bartolini, G (eds), Routledge Handbook of Human Rights and Disasters, Routledge, United Kingdom, pp. 43-62.
This chapter considers the interaction between International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Disaster Law (IDL) in governing humanitarian assistance to disaster victims in an armed conflict. Disasters may occur in a State that is already experiencing armed conflict; or a disaster or series of disasters may lead to armed conflict. The relationship between IHL and IDL, and which law applies in practice, is unclear. Using examples from the Asia-Pacific region, this chapter discusses the International Law Commission (ILC) Draft Article that treats IHL as lex specialis in disasters. First, it outlines the principles of IHL on humanitarian assistance and how they potentially apply to those affected by a disaster. Next, it considers how the ILC has approached the role of IHL, before examining how IHL and IDL may interact in practice. Finally, the chapter argues that a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between IHL and IDL is required so as to take into account the context in which disasters occur and to recognise that the IHL and IDL may be complementary and mutually reinforcing.
Joyce, D & Simm, G 2016, 'Zero Dark Thirty: International Law, Torture and Representation', Hart Publishing, Oxford and Portland, Oregan, pp. 491-502.
This chapter explores the relationship between film and international law by reference to the feature film Zero Dark Thirty (2012). The authors examine this film in the context of international law, while also considering related questions of genre, torture, gender and targeted killing.
Simm, G 2017, 'Regulating Sex in Peace Operations', ANU Press, Canberra, pp. 415-428.
This chapter assesses regulatory theory through a case study of trafficking of women into the sex industry in Bosnia by DynCorp which was contracted to provide policing to the UN peace operation in the late 1990s-early 2000s.
Simm, G & Williams, S, 'Submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on Draft General Recommendation No. 35 on the Gender-related Dimensions of Disaster Risk Reduction in a Changing Climate'.