Associate Professor Esme Shirlow

Associate Professor
PhD (King's College London), LL.M.(Hons) (Cambridge), LL.B. (Hons.) (ANU), BA (ANU), GDLP (ANU)

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Research Theme


Esmé Shirlow teaches and researches in the fields of public international law, international dispute settlement, and international investment law and arbitration. Esmé is admitted as a Solicitor in the Australian Capital Territory and trained as a civil and commercial mediator in England. She maintains a practice in the field of international law, and has been involved as an advisor to parties to investment treaty claims and in proceedings before the International Court of Justice, and has served as an assistant to a number of investment treaty tribunals. Prior to joining the ANU, she worked in the Australian Government’s Office of International Law.

Esmé completed her PhD as a Dickson Poon Scholar at King's College London, for which she was awarded the King's Elsevier Outstanding PhD Thesis Prize. She completed her LL.M. at the University of Cambridge, where she was awarded - among other prizes - the BRD Clarke Prize for Best Overall Performance in the LL.M. and the Clive Parry Prize for Best Result in International Law, as well as the Whewell Scholarship in International Law. Esmé completed her LL.B.(Hons) and a B.A. at the Australian National University.


Significant research publications

Recent news

International Law
An article co-authored by Associate Professor Esmé Shirlow proposes a methodology to guide a more structured identification and use of negotiating records in treaty interpretation.
Judging at the Interface
It's been described as a "ground-breaking" study and a "tour de force" by international law experts. Learn more about Associate Professor Esmé Shirlow's new book.
Dr Shirlow and the late Professor Caron new chapter
A new chapter by Dr Esmé Shirlow and the late Professor David D. Caron develops a framework for analysing transparency in international arbitration, in order to understand the structure, objectives and limits of different transparency reform efforts.
Remote learning
Teaching and studying online is a brave new world for many of us at ANU College of Law, but it's one we're navigating together with trademark collegiality.

Past events

Book launch_Judging at the Interface
5.30PM to 7.00PM Book launch
  • Various

Book launch and symposium event to celebrate the latest book by Associate Professor Esmé Shirlow, Judging at the Interface: Deference to Domestic Authority in International Adjudication (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Books & edited collections

  • Esmé Shirlow, Judging at the Interface: Deference to Domestic Authority in International Adjudication  (Cambridge University Press, 2021)
  • Esmé Shirlow and Kiran Nasir Gore (eds),  The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties in International Arbitration (Kluwer Law International, forthcoming 2021)
  • Joan E. Donoghue, Charles N. Brower, Cian C. Murphy, Cymie R. Payne, Esmé Shirlow (eds), By Peaceful Means: International Adjudication and Arbitration (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2022)

Book chapters

  • ‘The Role of International Law in Enhancing Climate Resilience’ in Angela van der Berg and Jonathan Verschuuren (eds), Urban Climate Resilience – The Role of Law (Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2021)
  • ‘The Rule of Law, Standards of Review, and the Separation of Powers’ in August Reinisch and Stephan Schill (eds), Investment Protection Standards and the Rule of Law (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)
  • ‘Back into the Shadows? Public Participation in the Peaceful Settlement of Investment Disputes through Non-Arbitral Means’ in Avidan Kent, Eric de Brabandere and Tarcisio Gazzini (eds), Public Participation and Foreign Investment Law: From the Creation of Rights and Obligations to the Settlement of Disputes (Brill, 2021)
  • The Multiple Forms of Transparency in International Arbitration, Their Implications, and Their Limits’ in Thomas Schultz and Federico Ortino (eds), The Oxford Handbook on International Arbitration (Oxford University Press 2020) (with Professor David D. Caron)
  • ‘Article 25(2)(b)’ in Gloria Alvarez, Remy Gerbay and Julien Fouret, The ICSID Convention, Rules and Regulations: A Commentary’ (Edward Elgar Publishing 2019) (with Professor David D. Caron)
  • Dissecting Backlash: The Unarticulated Causes of Backlash and its Unintended Consequences’ in Geir Ulfstein and Andreas Follesdal, The Judicialization of International Law – A Mixed Blessing? (Oxford University Press 2018) (with Professor David D. Caron)
  • Most-Favored-Nation Treatment: Substantive Protection’ in Meg Kinnear, Geraldine R. Fischer, Jara Minguez Almeida, Luisa Fernanda Torres and Mairee Uran Bidegain (eds), Building International Investment Law: The First 50 Years of ICSID (Wolters Kluwer 2015) (with Professor David D. Caron)

Refereed journal articles

Conference papers & presentations

Selected Conference Papers/Presentations (2019):

  • “Whose Gaze Matters? Disconnects between International Law-Makers and Law-Breakers”, presented at a CIPL Workshop (“International law-making away from the public gaze”), Canberra Australia, 4 February 2019
  • “Deference to Domestic Expertise in the International Adjudication of Private Property Disputes”, presented at the Australia and New Zealand Society of International Law’s Annual Conference, Canberra Australia, 5 July 2019
  • “The Rule of Law, Authority and Deference to Domestic Decision-Making in International Adjudication”, presented at the Asian Society of International Law’s Annual Conference, Manila The Philippines, 22 August 2019
  • “International Articulations of the Rule of Law: Deference to Domestic Decision-Making in International Adjudication”, presented at the Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference, Preston UK, 6 September 2019
  • “The Promises and Pitfalls of Investor-State Mediation”, presented on a panel convened by the International Economic Law Interest Group as part of the European Society of International Law’s Annual Conference, Athens Greece, 12 September 2019
  • “Democracy and Deference to Domestic Decision-Making in International Adjudication”, presented at the European Journal of International Law’s 30th Anniversary Symposium, New York USA, 19 September 2019

Commissioned reports

  • Regional Cyber Futures Initiative Scoping Study: Legal Frameworks in the Indo-Pacific Region – Cyber Resilience of Critical Infrastructure in Indonesia’s Energy Sector (2019) (co-author: Dr. Sarah Heathcote)
  • Report on Legal Methodology and Research Training for PhD Students, King’s College London Transnational Law Institute, Graduate Programme and Research Coordination Committee (2016)

Government submissions

Case notes & book reviews


Blog Posts


Currently supervising

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    Topic: The Implementation of State Responsibility Concerning Collective Norms: Evaluating State Practice and Examining the Theories of Codification

LLM Masters thesis supervision

Dr. Shirlow currently supervises students undertaking the Graduate Research Unit on topics related to international law and/or investment treaty law and arbitration.

  • 2020 - J Cummings, "International Property Law and Investor-State Dispute Settlement"
  • 2020 - A Bell-Rowe, "The Spectrum of Relevance: How Much Does a State's Place on the Monism-Dualism Spectrum Affect the Influence of International Law on that State's Regulation of Administrative Decision-Making?"
  • 2019 - B McDonald, "Anti-doping proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport: Lawful or foul play? A focus on proportionality and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights"

Honours thesis supervision

Dr. Shirlow currently supervises students undertaking Supervised Research Papers (Hons) on topics related to international law and/or investment treaty law and arbitration.

  • 2020 - L Abrahams, "Can the Due Diligence Principle Overcome Difficulties in Attributing State Responsibility in Cyberspace?"
  • 2019 - S Collins, "Hold Outs and Hold Ups: The Role of Specially Affected States in the Formation of Customary International Law"
  • 2019 - Z Qayyum, "All Bark and No Bite: The Enforceability of Proposed Reforms to Investor-State Dispute Settlement"

Current courses

Year Course code Course name
2021 LAWS8182
Class #1575
Principles of International Law
2021 LAWS8336
Class #1611
International Investment Treaty Law and Arbitration

Past courses

  • At ANU:
    • International Law (LAWS2250/6250)
    • Advanced International Law (LAWS4264)
    • Jessup Moot (LAWS4010)
    • International Investment Treaty Law and Arbitration (LAWS4306/8336)
    • Principles of International Law (LAWS8182)
  • International Investment Law (Visiting Lecturer, King's College London)
  • Public International Law (Visiting Lecturer, King's College London and Sessional Tutor, Australian National University)
  • Various (Jabal Centre, Australian National University)

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team