Lumen - The University of Adelaide Magazine The University of Adelaide Australia
Lumen Summer 2013 Issue
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A Global Law - Distinguished Alumni Award

One of the University of Adelaide's most distinguished Law graduates has been further recognised for the impact of his work both in the courtroom and in the classroom.

Professor James Crawford SC (LLB 1972, BA 1972) has received a Distinguished Alumni Award for his outstanding contribution nationally and internationally to the field of international law.

He remembers fondly his time as an undergraduate in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"What I recall is the quality of the best teaching, and the feeling of expanding horizons as I discovered music - Mary Martins sold LPs at $1 by the likes of Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Dvorak," he said.

"I read around in History, English and Law, and I made many friendships, some of which have survived distance and time."

It was in these formative years that he developed his interest in international law.

"I liked law and was interested in international relations," he said.

"I studied international law in 1968 - the year of student protests against Vietnam and other social uprisings - and doing more in international law seemed to follow.

"But I did not envisage a career in international law until I had to decide what to do with my scholarship to Oxford."

After completing his doctorate at Oxford, Professor Crawford returned to Adelaide University in 1974, where he lectured in international and constitutional law until 1986 (including being awarded a Personal Chair in 1983).

After a stint at the University of Sydney Law School from 1986 to 1992, he has since held the position of Whewell Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge and concurrently holds the title of Research Professor of Law with La Trobe University in Victoria.

Professor Crawford's career is especially notable for his expertise both as an academic and practitioner of international law.

He was the first Australian member of the United Nations International Law Commission, and also performed pioneering work for the Australian Law Reform Commission in the 1980s.

He has appeared in more than 60 cases before the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals, representing such diverse nations as Nauru, Malaysia, Romania, Greece, Colombia and Sudan as well as Australia.

In 2003, he gave the first lecture at the University of Adelaide in a series bearing his name, the James Crawford Biennial Series on International Law.

(Other high-profile legal figures to present as part of the series include US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and former Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby.)

And earlier this year, he paid a surprise visit to the University's team for the 2012 Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition - an act that delighted Adelaide Law School Dean, Professor John Williams.

"Professor Crawford is recognised as one of the world's most distinguished scholars in the field of international law, and he is a generous supporter of international law at Adelaide Law School," Professor Williams said.

For his part, Professor Crawford is unequivocal about maintaining his connection to his alma mater.

"I owe a lot to the University of Adelaide for my real education and for opening those horizons," Professor Crawford said.

"I believe in putting something back."

story by Ben Osborne

Right: Professor James Crawford SC
Photo courtesy of Professor James Crawford

Right: Professor James Crawford SC
Photo courtesy of Professor James Crawford

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