Researcher biography

Dr Melanie O'Brien is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the TC Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland and a researcher in the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

Dr O'Brien's research project is titled From Discrimination to Death: Genocidal Process and Prevention Through a Human Rights Lens, and aims to construct a paradigm of the genocidal process through human rights violations to function as a map to prevent future genocides.

Dr O'Brien's research and supervision areas include international criminal law, human rights law, international humanitarian law (IHL), feminist legal theory, public international law, comparative criminal law, peacekeeping, and military law. She has published in leading academic journals and is on the Editorial Board of Human Rights Review, and served on the Editorial Board of Genocide Studies and Prevention (2013-2017). Dr O'Brien is the Second Vice-President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), and a member of the QLD International Humanitarian Law Committee of the Australian Red Cross.

Dr O'Brien's book, Criminalising Peacekeepers: Modernising National Approaches to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse was published in 2017 in Palgrave's Transnational Crime, Crime Control and Security series.

She has won numerous prestigious grants:

  • Ian Potter Foundation Conference Grant;
  • TC Beirne School of Law Collaborative Workshop Grant (with Professor Heather Douglas);
  • Ian Potter Foundation Travel Grant;
  • Australian Academy of the Humanities Humanities Travelling Fellowship;
  • International Network of Genocide Scholars Travel Grant;
  • Griffith Asia Institute Australia China Futures Dialogues Visiting Fellowship to Peking University, China;
  • Gandel Philanthropy Scholarship for the Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators, at Yad Vashem in Israel.

Dr O'Brien is supervisor of the UQ Pro Bono Centre's International Humanitarian Law High Schools Program; and was co-convenor of the 2017 IAGS Conference at UQ.

Dr O'Brien has previously worked at Anti-Slavery Australia in the Law School, University of Technology Sydney; the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security at Griffith University; the National Human Rights Institution of Samoa; the Legal Advisory Section of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court; the International Criminal Justice Unit of the Nottingham University Human Rights Law Centre; the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations; the Raoul Wallenberg Institute; the Australian Law Reform Commission; and the NSW Crown Solicitors Office. She is an admitted legal practitioner.

Featured projects Duration
From Discrimination to Death: Genocidal Process and Prevention Through a Human Rights Lens
The University of Queensland