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Jill Barrett

Inaugural Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellow

Jill Barrett was appointed the Inaugural Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellow in Public International Law in 2012. She joined BIICL from the Legal Adviser's team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she was a Legal Counsellor. She created and led the Watts programme of research and events in public international law at BIICL, bringing to this role over twenty years' experience of advising on legal aspects of foreign policy, negotiating international agreements and representing the United Kingdom abroad.

The Watts Programme as developed by Jill encompasses a range of subjects, including law of the sea, treaty law and practice, human rights, the interaction of international law and public law, and British contributions to international law. For example:

Law of the Sea: the project on Obligations of States under Articles 74(3) and 83(3) of UNCLOS in respect of Undelimited Maritime Areas was led by Jill, assisted by Dr Naomi Burke, Arthur Watts Research Fellow in Law of the Sea. The research findings were published in July 2016 and discussed at a public conference.

The book Law of the Sea: UNCLOS as a Living Treaty edited by Jill Barrett and Richard Barnes was published by BIICL in 2016. The inspiration for this book project began with the BIICL UNCLOS at 30 conference held in Belfast in November 2012, convened by Jill.

Research was undertaken on legal issues relating to democratic participation in Hong Kong, resulting in publication of a scoping report in 2014.

Collaboration with the Centre for International Law in Singapore on a project on Treaty Law and Practice focusing on treaty practices of States and international organisations.

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 Law and Public Law, jointly convened by Jill Barrett and Professor Cheryl Saunders of MLS.

The anthology 'British Contributions to International Law 1915 - 2015' was compiled by Jill with Jean-Pierre Gauci, Research Fellow in Public International Law, and is due to be published by Brill in early 2017.

Jill was appointed Visiting Reader in the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London in 2016. She was Visiting Professor in Public International Law at the University of Kobe, Japan, in 2013.


During her FCO career, Jill's responsibilities included advising on public international law, EU and UK law on a wide range of subjects, such as treaties, international organisations, environment and energy, Polar Regions, Overseas Territories, devolution/foreign affairs, sanctions, human rights, shipping and law of the sea, and on various countries and regions, such as Africa, China & Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South America. Most recently, she led the Government's work on creating a new statutory regime for parliamentary scrutiny of treaties, resulting in enactment of the provisions on Ratification of Treaties in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. She also led the FCO's legal work on the Draft Antarctic Bill, published in 2009, to implement the Antarctic Environmental Liability Annex which she negotiated on behalf of the United Kingdom.

Jill acted as Deputy Agent for the United Kingdom in the Ireland v UK Mox Plant Cases under UNCLOS and the OSPAR Convention (2001-2008). She represented the United Kingdom at a variety of international organisations and conferences, such as the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources, London Convention (on pollution of the Marine Environment), International Whaling Commission, European Energy Charter, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, UN Commission on Environment and Development, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group on Hong Kong.

As a senior manager, she masterminded the launch of the new FCO Legal Information Group in 2008, and led the Group to develop new ways of delivering legal information, knowledge management and treaty services to the Government and the public.

She was posted to the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations, New York from 1994 to 1997, where, as First Secretary (Legal) she represented the UK on UN bodies, including the General Committee and the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the General Assembly, Security Council, Charter Committee, Host Country Committee; and was responsible for the Mission's work on sanctions, treaties, law of the sea, Antarctica and UN elections to certain legal posts.

Previously Jill was Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, specialising in the laws of the People's Republic of China, and Lecturer in Law at the University of Durham.

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