Honorary doctorate in law for human rights champion

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A Doctor of Laws honoris causa is being granted to Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs this morning at Macquarie University in recognition of her lifelong contribution to the protection of human rights.

It also is a nod to her involvement in the development of international law as an academic, a barrister, law dean and president of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The award is being granted in a morning graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Arts, where Triggs is also presenting an occasional address to the graduating cohort.

Vice-Chancellor professor S. Bruce Dowton says the human rights champion is an inspiration to students and the greater Australia.

“Professor Triggs is an outstanding role model for our graduates through her work across the academe, the practicing profession and government. Her service to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms is exemplary,” he says.

Graduating in law from the University of Melbourne in 1968, Triggs also gained a PhD in 1982. She combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice, and has worked with governments and international organisations on human rights law as well as World Trade Organisation law, disputed continental shelf and other territorial claims.

In her wide-ranging career, she’s been a consultant on international law to law firms; a board member of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH), and the Australian representative on the Council of Jurists for the Asia Pacific Forum for National Human Rights Institutions.

Triggs also served as chair of the board of the Australian International Health Institute and a member of the Attorney General's International Legal Service Advisory Council. She’s been honoured by election as a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.

In her current role as President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Triggs has focused on the implementation in Australian law of the human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, and has worked with nations in the Asia-Pacific region on practical approaches to implementing human rights.

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