From Somali Piracy to the UN Security Council: Understanding the impact of law

UNSW Canberra Academics Involved: 
Dr Tamsin Paige

As she was studying international maritime law, Dr Tamsin Phillipa Paige recognised a lack of research that took into account its sociological and socio-legal implications. After approaching a number of universities and supervisors, she travelled to East Africa to observe how laws were applied in counter piracy operations.

“I did a bunch of field work, interviewing key players in the enforcement field,” Paige says. “I also observed trial procedures for Somalis who’d been arrested and charged with piracy.”

Further into her research career Paige realised there was no legal definition for the term ‘threat to the peace’ (which allows the UN Security Council to trigger military action), so she developed one herself based upon past practice, and is now looking to publish her analysis and reasoning.

During her research, Paige has met with the Australian Ambassador to the UN, with US diplomats, with US State Department staff and with staff from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

She has also been awarded an Endeavour Fellowship to travel to New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia Law School, where she had regular access to the UN archives.

Paige often deals directly with law practitioners, advising on the application and impact of international law in situations where security is in question or has broken down.

“My general audience is both practitioners and academics,” she says. “I think there needs to be less of a disconnect between the two.”