Moeen Cheema

PhD Candidate, Senior Lecturer
LLM (Harvard); LLB (London)
+61 2 6125 1139
Room 3.071

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Moeen Cheema is a Senior Lecturer at the ANU College of Law and has considerable experience of research, teaching and consultancy in the fields of comparative public law, criminal law, and legal and political developments in South Asia.

Moeen’s research is interdisciplinary and draws on critical approaches to law. He is especially interested in constitutional politics and judicial review; criminal justice systems; intersection of state and Islamic law; and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.

With an LLM from Harvard Law School and an LLB (Honours) from the University of London, Moeen is currently undertaking a PhD at ANU Law, where he is researching a contextualized history of the law and courts in Pakistan.


- LLM Sub-Dean

Significant research publications

Recent news

Moeen Cheema
ANU College of Law Senior Lecturer Moeen Cheema has been granted an Australia Awards Fellowship to analyse the rule of law dimensions of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
APP78-24 ISLAMABAD: May 24 – A group photograph of Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson and Pakistan’s Attorney-General Ashtar Ausaf Ali with Australia Award Fellows a ceremony at the completion of a workshop hosted by the Australian National Uni
Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan,Margaret Adamson and Pakistan’s Attorney General, Ashtar Ausaf Ali congratulated ten Australia Awards Fellows on the completion of their research on criminal justice reform in Pakistan.
Moeen Cheema
ANU College of Law lecturer Moeen Cheema has been granted an Australia Awards Fellowship to assist with reform of the criminal justice system in Pakistan. The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced the awards earlier this week.

In the Media

Moeen Cheema interviewed by The Wire radio
Moeen Cheema interviewed by ABC The World Today
Moeen Cheema interviewed by APPS Policy Forum
Moeen Cheema speaks to ABC Radio National

Past events

Postgraduate Information Evening November 2018
5.00PM to 7.00PM Future Students

Whether you are an experienced professional looking for a career change, or just finished your degree and are thinking about further study, come along to this event to learn about postgraduate study options at ANU.

Keally McBride
12.30PM to 2.00PM Seminar
  • Professor Keally McBride, University of San Francisco

One of the most interesting areas of scholarship in recent years has been the relationship between colonialism and the rule of law.  Several important books have used the materials of legal history to interrogate the meaning, development, and effects of the rule of law in colonial and post colonial societies.  

Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.


  • Australia Awards Fellowship 2017-18 on Rule of Law Impact of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC):

    The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the first and most significant stage of China’s ambitious ‘One Belt One Road’ program that is set to re-draw the political and economic geography of South and Central Asia. This fellowship program brought together Pakistani scholars working on diverse aspects of CPEC and its wider ramifications for the region. The program was designed to provide a platform to systematically engage with CPEC-related issues, and thereby develop a sustainable network of organizations that serve as a nodal point for continuing research and policy work. 

  • Australia Awards Fellowship 2016-17 on Promoting Criminal Justice Reform in Pakistan: This fellowship program brought together several organizations that are involved in litigation, research and public advocacy aimed at the reform of the criminal justice system in Pakistan. The program was designed to enhance the research, advocacy, public policy and law reform oriented skills of the fellows and the capacities of their organizations. The program also aimed to develop a sustainable network of partner organizations working on criminal justice research and reform in Pakistan.

  • ANU College of Law Small Grants Scheme, 2014-2016: This grant funded research on cases of women convicted of narcotics offences in Pakistan's prisons.


  • UNDP, Rule of Law Institutions in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 2018 – Conducted a political economy analysis of the formal and informal legal institutions in Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan with a view to developing the strategy for their prospective integration into the Pakistani state structure.
  • Rule of Law Roadmap, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2017 – Developed the ‘Rule of Law Roadmap for the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan as part of the technical assistance provided by Adam Smith International (ASI) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The Roadmap lays out a 5-year strategy for the reform of the criminal justice system including the institutions of police, judiciary, prosecution, prisons, probation and parole.
  • UNDP Evaluation of Judicial Trainings, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy, Pakistan, 2016 – Conducted an evaluation of the curriculum, methodology and effectiveness of judicial trainings imparted by the KPJA with the support of the UNDP.
  • UNDP Baseline Study on Rule of Law, Southern Districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, 2016 – Prepared a report for the UNDP Strengthening Rule of Law Program analysing the baseline data on public perception of and engagement with formal and informal justice sector institutions in the southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. 
  • Correctional Services Policy, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, 2016 – Advised Aitebaar Program, Coffey on an integrated correctional services policy in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan covering prisons, probation and parole. 
  • International Commission of Jurists Report on Corpus Delicti, 2009 – Advised the ICJ on the possibilities of prosecution of murder based solely on circumstantial evidence in cases of enforced disappearance. The report included a comparative analysis of relevant criminal law in a number of jurisdictions as well as of the jurisprudence of international tribunals.
  • USAID Rule of Law Assessment in Pakistan, 2008 – Advised USAID team on the historical contexts of Pakistan's legal system and authored part of the Report. The report is available online at 
  • UN-Habitat Consultancy Project, 2006- 2007 – Advised UN-Habitat on land rights issues and compensation-related grievances in the areas of northern Pakistan affected by the earthquake of October 2005.
  • Relief and Information Systems for Earthquakes Pakistan (RISEPAK) – Led teams of students and researchers affiliated with RISEPAK based at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan, in research and date collection on post-earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction compensation scheme.

Books & edited collections

Book chapters

  • 'Developments in Pakistani Constitutional Law' in Richard Albert, David Landau, Pietro Faraguna and Simon Drugda (eds) 2016 Global Review of Constitutional Law, (I.CONnect - Clough Center, 2016)
  • '‘Election Disputes’ or Disputed Elections?: Judicial (Non-)Review of Elections in Pakistan' in P J Yap (ed), Judicial Review of Elections in Asia (Routledge, 2016)
  • 'The Chaudhry Court: 'Rule of Law' or 'Judicialization of Politics'?' in Moeen Cheema and Ijaz Gilani (eds), The Politics & Jurisprudence of the 'Chaudhry Court' (2005-2013), (Oxford University Press, Pakistan, 2015)
  • 'Police Order 2002: Police Reforms in Pakistan' in S. M. Ali and M. A.Saquib (eds), Devolution and Governance Reforms in Pakistan (Oxford University Press, Pakistan, 2008) (with Sikander Shah and Waleed Khalid)
  • 'Gender Discrimination: Exploring Judicial Bias in the Superior Courts of Pakistan' in D. Ghaznavi and B. A. Khan (eds),  Managing NGOs in Developing Countries: Gender Challenges (Oxford University Press, Pakistan, 2006)

Refereed journal articles

Conference papers & presentations

  • Second ‘Legal History and Empires: Perspectives from the Colonised’ Conference, University of the West Indies, July 11-13, 2018
  • Eleventh Annual South Asia Legal Studies Workshop at University of Wisconsin Law School, October 26, 2017;
  • Symposium on "Constitutionalism in South Asia" at Columbia Law School, April 7, 2017;
  • ASLI Workshop on “Transplantation of Foreign Public Law in Asia”, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University, 3-4 November 2016
  • Washington International Law Journal Symposium on “Asian Courts and Constitutional Politics in the 21st Century”, University of Washington Law School, 3 October 2016
  • Workshop on Judicial Review of Elections in Asia, Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, 3 July 2015
  • 12th ASLI Conference "Law 2.0: New Challenges in Asia", National Taiwan University, 21-22 May 2015
  • YCC-ASCL Workshop on Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Milan, 4 May 2015
  • 2014 International Judicial Conference, The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, 18-19 April 2014
  • 'Asian Legal Studies: New issues and new Scholarship' Workshop, Centre for Asian legal Studies, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, 5-6 December 2013
  • Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference: 'Receiving Laws/Giving Laws', Faculty of Law, University of Technology of Sydney, 10-12 December 2012
  • The Australian Society of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference 2011, T.C. Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland, 29-31 July 2011
  • Law & Religion workshop, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, Melbourne Law School, 14 July 2011
  • Harvard-Stanford International Junior Faculty Forum 2010, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, 7-8 October 2010
  • 'Postcolonialism & Islam' Conference, Northern Association of Postcolonial Studies (NAPS), Sunderland, UK, 16-17 April  2010
  • Workshop on 'Islamic Law in the Courts: Judicial Interpretation of Shari’a in Modern Muslim States' at the University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, USA, 5-6 June 2009

Current courses

Year Course code Course name
2018 LAWS2249
Class #7332
Legal Theory
2018 LAWS8001
Class #1668
Introduction to Law, Governance and Development

Previous courses


Courting Constitutionalism: The Politics of Judicial Review in Pakistan

This thesis aims to present a contextualized account of the law in postcolonial Pakistan and situate the judicial review jurisprudence of the superior courts, in particular their recent activism and populism, in the contexts of the historical developments of constitutional politics, evolution of state structures and broader social transformations. It will show how in each epoch of the post-colonial state’s history the superior courts positioned themselves within the state and vis a vis the demands that different segments of the society placed upon the state and its institutions. It will bring forth evidence that the courts did not define their role in accordance with certain abstract theories of constitutionalism, rule of law and separation of powers that had been deeply imbricated in the post-colonial state’s self-justifications. Rather, these courts re-situated themselves from time to time and re-fashioned their role in accordance with fundamental shifts in constitutional politics, state structure and state-society dialectics. In the process, these courts re-cast the theoretical conceptualizations of constitutionalism, rule of law, and separation of powers to better reflect their evolving role and jurisprudence. A deeper understanding of these phenomena – i.e. the evolution of judicial role in response to shifts in socio-political context, and the re-crafting of theoretical frameworks to justify it – will enable us to meaningfully scrutinize the courts’ recent jurisprudence and evaluate the judiciary’s future role in Pakistan’s governance scheme. As such, it will be argued that the courts’ role is deeply political in terms of defining the nature and relevant powers of state institutions and the imperatives for their actions. Perhaps the Pakistani situation is unique in this respect, but it might be worthwhile speculating if theory is often elsewhere a shorthand for such deeply contextualized arguments as well.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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