BComm (Hons), LLB (UNSW); LLM, SJD (Michigan)

Law and Legal Studies

Michelle Foster is a Professor of Law and the inaugural Director of the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness at Melbourne Law School. She is internationally renowned for her ground-breaking scholarship in the field of international refugee law and the law on statelessness. Her four books (and many articles) have made a substantial contribution to knowledge and are widely regarded as leading works in their area: International Refugee Law and Socio-Economic Rights (Cambridge UP 2007); The Law of Refugee Status (2nd edn, Oxford UP 2014, with JC Hathaway); International Refugee Law and the Protection of Stateless Persons (Oxford UP 2019, with H Lambert); and The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law (Oxford UP 2021, edited with C Costello and J McAdam).

Through her sustained high-quality scholarship, Professor Foster has forged a position as an eminent international scholar. She has contributed to novel ways of thinking about the capacity for an evolutionary understanding of the Refugee Convention, a treaty formulated in the Cold War period but designed to endure. Her work challenges existing approaches to interpreting the refugee definition and has been heavily cited and debated, due to its originality and strength of analysis. 

Professor Foster’s more recent work on statelessness has explored the intersection of refugee law and statelessness as well as statelessness as an emerging academic sub-discipline. As Director of the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, Professor Foster develops the capacity of researchers – especially early career researchers – to undertake work on statelessness. Professor Foster is joint Editor-in-Chief of the Statelessness and Citizenship Review, which she co-founded, and an Advisory Board Member of the Melbourne Journal of International Law. She has been a Board member of AMES Australia, Australia’s pre-eminent settlement agency, since 2013 and Deputy Chair since 2020. 

Director, Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, University of Melbourne

Fellow, Australian Academy of Law

1. Michelle Foster (with C. Costello and J. McAdam) (eds) The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law, OUP, Oxford, lxxviii+ 1258 pages (2021)

2. Michelle Foster and Hélène Lambert, International Refugee Law and the Protection of Stateless Persons, Oxford University Press, Oxford, xxv+ 288 pages (2019)

3. Michelle Foster and Timnah Baker, ‘Racial Discrimination in Nationality laws: A Doctrinal Blind Spot of International Law?’ (2021) 11(1) Columbia Journal on Race and Law 83-146 

4. Michelle Foster (with C. Costello), ‘(Some) refugees welcome: When is differentiating between refugees unlawful discrimination?’ (2022) 22(3) International Journal of Discrimination and the Law 244-280

5. Michelle Foster and Kirsty Gover, ‘Determining Membership: Aboriginality and Alienage in the Australian High Court’ (2020) 31(2) Public Law Review