School of Law

Ms Jill Barrett


Visiting Reader


Jill Barrett is a Visiting Reader in the School of Law, specialising in Public International Law and Foreign Relations Law. She is co-convenor of the LLM module QLLM444 International Law and Governance of the Polar Regions (with Malgosia Fitzmaurice).

Her research interests lie in the field of Public International Law and Foreign Relations Law (where  public international law intersects with domestic public law), in particular: international law and practice of treaties, ratification and implementation of treaties in domestic law, international law and governance of the polar regions, law of the sea and international environmental law.

Jill is an independent consultant in public international law. She provides advice, research and professional training in public international law as it works in practice, drawing upon her extensive experience in government and international organisations. She is also an Associate Member of 6 Pump Court Chambers. She was called to the Bar in 1989 and is a member of Gray’s Inn.

Jill was until recently the inaugural Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellow in Public International Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, where she led the Watts programme of research and events in public international law. In 2013 she was appointed Visiting Professor in Public International Law at Kobe University, Japan, where she taught public international law to postgraduate students and conducted research on Japan’s treaty practice.

She was a staff member of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat in 2010 and since then has been legal adviser to the delegation of the Antarctic Southern Ocean Coalition at Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings.

Jill was previously Legal Counsellor at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. During her 20-year FCO career she advised on legal aspects of UK foreign policy, including 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. 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 to implement the Antarctic Environmental Liability Annex (which she had negotiated on behalf of the United Kingdom). As legal adviser to the FCO’s Polar Regions department for 8 years, she visited the British Antarctic Survey Research Station at Rothera, Adelaide Island, Antarctica, and observed and participated in scientific and operational activities on the Antarctic Peninsula.

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.

Jill 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.

Jill began her career as an academic, first as Lecturer in Law at Durham University, then as Lecturer in Law at SOAS, London University, specialising in the law of the People’s Republic of China. At SOAS, she taught Public Law, Public International Law, English Legal System and Chinese Law to undergraduate students. She convened the LLM course on Law of the People’s Republic of China, and pioneered a new LLM course on Human Rights in the Developing World. She studied the Chinese language at SOAS and conducted legal research in China and Taiwan in the 1980s.


Jill’s research interests lie in the field of public international law and foreign relations law, in particular: international law and practice of treaties, ratification and implementation of treaties in domestic law, international law and governance of the polar regions, law of the sea and international environmental law.

She is currently Research Consultant with the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore. She is collaborating with CIL on a programme of training and research on Treaty Law and Practice, leading to publication of a handbook on best treaty practice designed for treaty officials in governments in the Southeast Asian region and the ASEAN Secretariat.


  • Forthcoming book: J Barrett and J Gauci (editors), British Contributions to International Law 1915-2015, Brill (ISBN 9789004284180), in press, due late 2017.
  • Book: J Barrett and R Barnes (editors), Law of the Sea - UNCLOS as a Living Treaty, BIICL, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-905221-52-3

Book chapter 

  • J Barrett, ‘The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: A “Living” Treaty?’, Chapter 1 in Barrett and Barnes (eds), Law of the Sea - UNCLOS as a Living Treaty.

Research report

  • Jill Barrett et al, Report on the Obligations of States under Articles 74(3) and 83(3) of UNCLOS in respect of Undelimited Maritime Areas, BIICL 2016, ISBN 978-1-905221-68-4. Available in print and online.

Book chapter

  • Jill Barrett, ‘Securing the Polar Regions Through International Law’, pp301-340,
    Chapter 12 in M Footer et al (eds), Security and International Law, Hart, 2016, ISBN 9781849466349

Journal article

Jill Barrett, ‘International Governance of the Antarctic – Participation, Transparency and Legitimacy’, The Yearbook of Polar Law VII (2015) 448-500 (Brill)

Research report

J Barrett (with R McCorquodale), Legal Issues Relating to Democratic Participation in
Hong Kong, BIICL, 17 October 2014.

Journal article

J Barrett, ‘The United Kingdom and Parliamentary Scrutiny of Treaties: Recent Reforms’,
International and Comparative Law Quarterly, vol 60, January 2011 pp 225–245.

Public Engagement

Delivering  professional training, briefings and updates on public international law topics to officials of governments and international organisations, judges and lawyers in private practice:

  • A series of seminars on various public international law topics to barristers at 6 Pump Court Chambers, starting in July 2017, ongoing.
  • A course of seminars on ‘Introduction to public international law and UK practice’ to legal advisers and policy officials of the Government of Wales, Cardiff, March 2017.
  • Presentations on ‘Treaty Management in International Organisation’ and “Participation of International Organisations in Treaties and the UK’s internal procediures’ to officials of governments in the Southesast Asia region and the ASEAN Secretariat, at a Workshop on Treaty Management in International Organisations: Lessons Learnt and ASEAN Practice’ held at the ASEAN Headquarters at Jakarta, Indonesia, 2 November 2016, convened by the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore. The presentations and the workshop report are available online.
  • Seminar on ‘Public International Law in the UK courts’ to legal practitioners on Public International Law in Practice course at BIICL, London, on 23 May 2016.
  • Lecture on ‘Core Public International Law issues before the Courts’ to the Judicial College, Royal Courts of Justice, London, on 19 January 2016, chaired by Lord Justice Lloyd Jones.

Speaking at academic conferences:

  • Presentation on The Obligations of States in Respect of Undelimited Maritime Areas and State Practice in Central America and the Caribbean Region’ at a conference on Maritime Delimitations and Hydrocarbon Resources in Central America and the Caribbean, held on 21 July 2017 at Ironmongers’ Hall, London, convened by the London Centre for International Law Practice.
  • Presentation on ‘Prospects and problems for the UK’s law of the sea relations after Brexit’ at a conference on Law of the Sea: New Frontiers and Frictions, held at BIICL, London, on 14 November 2016.
  • Introductory Remarks at Conference on ‘Obligations of States in Undelimited Maritime Areas’ held at BIICL, London, on 22 July 2016. A copy of the conference report is available online.

Giving evidence to parliamentary committees:

  • Oral evidence as a Witness to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union’s Inquiry on “Brexit: Parliamentary Scrutiny’, Evidence Session No. 1 held on 6 September 2016. Transcript of oral evidence is available on Parliament’s website.

Providing Pro Bono advice to non-governmental and charitable organisations:

  • Advice on the Paris Agreement on climate change to Legal Response Initiative (LRI), London (ongoing)
  • Advice on the Antarctic Treaty to Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coaltion (ASOC), Washington DC, USA (ongoing).

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