Doctor Catherine Renshaw

Doctor Catherine Renshaw

School of Law

Senior Lecturer,
School of Law


Catherine Renshaw is a Professor in the School of Law at the Western Sydney University. Her research focuses on human rights and democracy in Southeast Asia. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Regulatory Institutions Network, Centre for International Governance and Justice, Australian National University. Catherine acts as an advisor to several human rights NGOs in the Asia Pacific region. Catherine completed her law degree at the University of New South Wales, her Master of Laws at the University of Sydney and her PhD at the University of Sydney. In 2011 and 2013 she carried out fieldwork in Myanmar as part of her doctoral research and she has ongoing research interests in Myanmar and Southeast Asia . Catherine is admitted to practice as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia. She has practiced as a solicitor for major law firms in Sydney and Newcastle and for the Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales. 

This information has been contributed by Doctor Renshaw.


  • PhD University of Sydney
  • LLM University of Sydney
  • LLB University of New South Wales
  • BA (Hons) University of Sydney

Professional Memberships

  • Law Society of New South Wales (2008)
  • Australia and New Zealand Society of International Law (2008 - 2015)
  • American Society of International Law (2008 - 2016)
  • Asian Society of International Law (2008 - 2016)
  • Australian Institute of International Affairs (2008)

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • School of Law
  • School of Law



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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 13741 Contracts Law, 2015



  • Renshaw, C. (2019), 'Human Rights and Participatory Politics in Southeast Asia', : University of Pennsylvania Press 9780812251036.
  • Freeman, D. and Renshaw, C. (2019), 'Nonsense on Stilts: Rescuing Human Rights in Australia', : Connor Court Publishing 9781925826685.
  • Cullen, H., Harrington, J. and Renshaw, C. (2017), 'Experts, Networks and International Law', : Cambridge University Press 9781107184428.
  • Saul, B. and Renshaw, C. (2014), 'Human Rights in Asia and the Pacific: Critical Concepts in Asian Studies', : Routledge 9780415834674.

Chapters in Books

  • Renshaw, C. (2019), 'Myanmar', Oxford Handbook of International Law in Asia and the Pacific, Oxford University Press 9780198793854.
  • Renshaw, C. (2019), 'Myanmar's transition without justice', Civil Society and Transitional Justice in Asia and the Pacific, ANU Press 9781760463281.
  • Freeman, D. and Renshaw, C. (2019), 'Introduction : rights, nonsense and the commentariat', Nonsense on Stilts: Rescuing Human Rights in Australia, Connor Court Publishing 9781925826685.
  • Renshaw, C. (2019), 'Where the light gets in', Nonsense on Stilts: Rescuing Human Rights in Australia, Connor Court Publishing 9781925826685.
  • Renshaw, C. (2018), 'Indonesia, Australia and ASEAN', Strangers Next Door?: Indonesia and Australia in the Asian Century, Hart Publishing 9781509918164.
  • Cullen, H., Harrington, J. and Renshaw, C. (2017), 'Experts, networks and international law', Experts, Networks and International Law, Cambridge University Press 9781107184428.
  • Renshaw, C. (2017), 'Top-down transitions and the politics of US sanctions', The Business of Transition: Law Reform, Development and Economics in Myanmar, Cambridge University Press 9781108416832.
  • Renshaw, C. (2014), 'Disasters, despots and gun-boat diplomacy', The International Law of Disaster Relief, Cambridge University Press 9781107061316.
  • Renshaw, C. (2014), 'The regional context of Myanmar's democratic transition : what role for ASEAN's new institutions?', Law, Society and Transition in Myanmar, Hart 9781849465977.
  • Renshaw, C. and Fitzpatrick, K. (2012), 'National human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific region : change agents under conditions of uncertainty', Human Rights, State Compliance, and Social Change: Assessing National Human Rights Institutions, Cambridge University Press 9780521761758.
  • Renshaw, C. (2011), 'The role of networks in the implementation of human rights in the Asia-Pacific region', Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region: Towards Institution Building, Routledge 9780415859486.
  • Byrnes, A. and Renshaw, C. (2010), 'Within the state', International Human Rights Law, Oxford University Press 9780199560257.

Journal Articles

  • Renshaw, C. (2020), 'Myanmar's genocide and the legacy of forgetting', Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, vol 48, no 2 , pp 425 - 472.
  • Renshaw, C. (2020), 'Poetry, irrevocable time and Myanmar's political transition', International Journal of Transitional Justice, vol 14, no 1 , pp 14 - 34.
  • Dastyari, A. and Renshaw, C. (2020), 'Frontline workers as human rights defenders : protecting the human rights of frontline workers in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic', UNSW Law Journal Forum, vol 6 .
  • Renshaw, C. (2019), 'Martin Krygier and human rights', Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, vol 11, no 2-3 , pp 479 - 484.
  • Renshaw, C. (2017), 'Global or regional? : realizing women's rights in Southeast Asia', Human Rights Quarterly, vol 39, no 3 , pp 707 - 745.
  • Renshaw, C. (2016), 'Human trafficking in Southeast Asia : uncovering the dynamics of state commitment and compliance', Michigan Journal of International Law, vol 37, no 4 , pp 611 - 659.
  • Renshaw, C. (2013), 'The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration 2012', Human Rights Law Review, vol 13, no 3 , pp 557 - 579.
  • Renshaw, C. (2013), 'Democratic transformation and regional institutions : the case of Myanmar and ASEAN', Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, vol 32, no 1 , pp 29 - 54.
  • Renshaw, C. (2012), 'Law, legitimacy and the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights', Thammasat Review, vol 15, no Special Iss. , pp 51 - 70.
  • Renshaw, C. (2012), 'National human rights institutions and civil society organizations : new dynamics of engagement at domestic, regional, and international levels', Global Governance, vol 18, no 3 , pp 299 - 316.
  • Renshaw, C. (2012), 'Book Review: The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights: Institutionalising Human Rights in Southeast Asia', Australian Journal of Asian Law, vol 13, no 1 , pp 1 - 7.
  • Renshaw, C., Byrnes, A. and Durbach, A. (2011), 'Testing the mettle of National Human Rights Institutions : a case study of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia', Asian Journal of International Law, vol 1, no 1 , pp 165 - 198.
  • Renshaw, C., Byrnes, A. and Durbach, A. (2010), 'Human rights protection in the Pacific : the emerging role of National Human Rights Institutions in the region', New Zealand Journal of Public International Law, vol 8, no 1 , pp 117 - 144.
  • Durbach, A., Renshaw, C. and Byrnes, A. (2009), ''A tongue but no teeth?' : the emergence of a new human rights mechanism in the Asia Pacific region', Sydney Law Review, vol 31, no 2 , pp 211 - 238.
  • Renshaw, C., Byrnes, A. and Durbach, A. (2009), 'Implementing human rights in the Pacific through national human rights institutions : the experience of Fiji', Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, vol 40, no 1 , pp 251 - 277.
  • Byrnes, A., Durbach, A. and Renshaw, C. (2008), 'Joining the club : the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, the Paris Principles, and the advancement of human rights protection in the region', Australian Journal of Human Rights, vol 14, no 1 , pp 63 - 98.

Conference Papers

  • Renshaw, C. (2008), 'The globalisation paradox and the implementation of international human rights : the function of transnational networks in combating human trafficking in the ASEAN region', Australian and New Zealand Law and Society Association. Conference, Sydney, N.S.W..

Catherine's research focuses on the theory and practice of human rights, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia. Between 2008 and 2010, as part of an Australian Research Council Linkage project on National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific region, Catherine carried out fieldwork in Nepal, Malaysia, Samoa, Jordan, Nepal, Thailand and Korea, exploring how the global ideal of international human rights is translated into its domestic context through the work of NHRIs. A particular focus of this research project was the role of networks of NHRIs in supporting and strengthening the work of individual institutions. One particular network was examined: the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. The potential and power of NHRIs remains one of Catherine's ongoing research interests.  Catherine's doctoral research was a study of the legitimacy of regional human rights systems - specifically, the legitimacy of the new sub-regional system emerging in Southeast Asia around the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights. ASEAN's membership includes the communist states of Vietnam and Laos and the absolute sultanate of Brunei. Catherine’s thesis considered what purchase the discourse of 'human rights and democracy' had at the regional level in Southeast Asia. Catherine's doctoral research also included a case study of Myanmar, which is in the midst of an uncertain transition to constitutional democracy. In 2011 and 2012 she carried out fieldwork in Myanmar, interviewing members of government, members of the human rights commission and former political prisoners about perceptions of the legitimacy of global, regional and national influences on human rights. As part of the Australia-Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project, with colleagues from the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, the National University of Singapore, Australian National University and Victoria University, Canada, Catherine maintains a strong research focus on Myanmar. In November 2015, she is organising a major conference on the Asian experience of Transitional Justice.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Renshaw.

Previous Projects

Title: Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project [via Community of Democracies, Permanent Secretariat]
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea
Western Researchers: Catherine Renshaw
Years: 2015-03-01 - 2015-12-31
ID: P00022873


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