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Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellowship in Public International Law

Aims of the Fellowship Programme

The Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellowship was established with a mission to ensure that public international law is kept at the heart of BIICL's research and events and its significance promoted worldwide. It was inaugurated in January 2013

The main aims of the Fellowship, through its programme of its research and events, are to:

•Promote discussion and study of contemporary issues of public international law, combining clear conceptual analysis with knowledge of how it works in practice;

•Develop comparative approaches to public international law, examining issues in international practice from a variety of different regional and national perspectives;

•Analyse and critique British practice of public international law;

•Foster links between international lawyers across government departments and embassies, private practice, the judiciary, academia and the not-for-profit sector;

•Encourage participation of early career public international lawyers in the Watts programme, especially in identifying and shaping the issues of the future.

For more information, download the Arthur Watts Fellowship brochure here.

Activities of the Fellowship Programme

Partnership with Melbourne Law School

We are pleased to have established a successful partnership with the University of Melbourne Law School with a growing programme of Visiting Research Fellows and interns and collaborative research. The first five years of collaboration has been concluded with a major BIICL-MLS conference on Dialogues between International and Public Law, which took place on 30 June and 1 July 2016 in London. It was co-convened by Jill Barrett, Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellow, and Professor Cheryl Saunders, MLS. A report of the conference proceedings is available here: View Document

Building on the success of this conference and the visiting research programme, we are now planning the next five years of collaborative activities with MLS.

Research activities

Among the research projects recently completed, under way or planned for the future under the Fellowship are:

British Contributions to International Law 1915-2015

The original documentary sources of key British contributions to international law spanning the past 100 years have been collected for the first time, for publication as an anthology in two volumes. These range from seminal writings of British scholars, judgments of British courts, opinions of British judges on international courts and tribunals, treaties concluded and statements made by the United Kingdom government, British contributions to international legal drafting, legislation and parliamentary debates; as well as other less formal documents. The Editors, Jill Barrett and Jean-Pierre Gauci, explain in their introduction, why, of all the multifarious British contributions, these have been selected for their enduring impact upon the development of international law, from a global perspective. The anthology will be published by Brill in 2017, and is part of a trilogy of publications on British Influences on International Law.

Democratic Participation in Hong Kong

BIICL is undertaking research on legal issues relating to democratic participation in Hong Kong, focussing on the issues which are the subject of current protests there. A scoping report on this issue by Jill Barrett and Robert McCorquodale was published in October 2014. For more information, please visit our BIICL News pages.

Treaty law and practice

This research project, conducted in collaboration with the Centre for International Law in Singapore, brought together treaty professionals from a range of governments in South-East Asia and international organisations. An international workshop on Treaty Law and Practice was held for treaty officials from governments and international secretariats. A report of the proceedings and a set of recommendations for best practice was published, along with an online compilation of constitutional and legislative provisions on treaty practice from selected jurisdictions.

Customary international law in national courts

This project will compare the way in which national courts in selected jurisdictions around the world identify and apply customary international law in judicial decisions.

Evidence before International Courts and Tribunals

This project aims to build on the success of the BIICL project on evidence before the International Court of Justice, published in 2009 and cited in several judgements of the Court, by extending the study to evidence before other international courts and tribunals.


The Arthur Watts Fellow convenes the Arthur Watts Public International Law Seminar Series, which is currently sponsored by Volterra Fietta. To read the Series' event reports and to view these and other forthcoming events, please click here.

To register for an event, please visit the BIICL Events page.

Inaugural Arthur Watts Fellow - Jill Barrett

The Inaugural Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellow was Jill Barrett, from 2012 to 2016. She joined the Institute from the Legal Adviser's team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), where she was a Legal Counsellor. Before joining the FCO, Jill held lectureships in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, (specialising in the People's Republic of China) and at the University of Durham.

Supporting the Arthur Watts Appeal

If you would like to support the Arthur Watts Appeal you can donate online, complete the Arthur Watts Appeal donation form, or call our Development team on +44 (0)20 7862 5433.