Emeritus Professor Garth Nettheim AO

"Garth inspired commitment and dedication, and he did so quietly and with sensitivity... He created institutions with a mission - DTP is a living example." Dr John Pace, DTP Board Member and Former Secretary of the UN Commission on Human Rights

Emeritus Professor Garth Nettheim commenced his legal teaching career in 1963, and joined the University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law, in its first year of operation in 1971.

Garth served as Dean and Head of the UNSW Law School in 1975-1978 and 1987-1988. He retired from full time teaching in 1996 and became an Emeritus Professor of Law and Honorary Visiting Professor.

Garth introduced ways of teaching the law that engage students in thinking and contributing to our society and key issues of justice and human rights. Garth was a founding director of the Diplomacy Training Program in 1989. He served as a Board member and taught on many of DTP’s human rights capacity building programs from 1990 well into the 2010’s.

Garth also played a critical role in establishing the Australian Human Rights Centre, now the Australian Human Rights Institute, and the Indigenous Law Centre at UNSW. Through these institutions his legacy continues to inspire and support learning and change.

His major publications include: Understanding Law (6th ed, 2002) (with R Chisholm), Indigenous Peoples and Governance Structures (2002) (with GD Meyers and D Craig) and Indigenous Legal Issues: Commentary and Materials (2nd ed, 1997) (with H McRae and L Beacroft).

In Memory

The Diplomacy Training Program grew out of a chance meeting with José RamosHorta at a party in Geneva at the home of John Pace. Garth guided the program and has been a key trainer in so many training programs, from Alice Springs to Myanmar, Fiji to Nepal.” … read more
Emeritus Professor Paul Redmond 

“Garth inspired commitment and dedication, and he did so quietly and with sensitivity. We shared so much over the many years of our friendship, starting in New York and Geneva at around the time when the idea that became DTP first developed. Later, in Australia, I was privileged to work closely with him at the AHRC, when we pushed and sensitised, in Australia and overseas, on issues such as mandatory sentencing and the off-shore exile of asylum seekers. He created institutions with a mission – DTP is a living example and I am proud to be associated with it because we can carry on with his vision, above all, on seeking justice for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters and brothers.”
Dr John Pace, Former Secretary of the UN Commission on Human Rights

“The Council of ICJ Australia wishes to acknowledge that Garth was, both in Australia and internationally, a champion of human rights and the rule of law. He gave many years of service to ICJ Australia, and acted as an observer in international trials, particularly South Africa. His contribution to learning of the law and the principles of human rights was phenomenal.”
The Hon John Dowd AO QC, ICJ Australia

“I look back on Garth as a seminal figure of law teaching in the sixties, one of the first lawyers to recognise the importance of fighting racism and, in his teaching work, of making the learning of law an interesting and even enjoyable experience.” … read more
– Geoffrey Robertson QC

“It was an honour and a privilege to have met Prof Nettheim… His legacy and giant contribution to human rights defences has certainly affected my aspirations and direction in life. I, like many alumni, will mourn this great loss and celebrate his dogged advocacy for fairer and just systems – particularly in our Asia Pacific region.”
Peter Nathan

“Such a kind man he was, and what a legacy he has left us with the founding of DTP!”
Sarah Torcasio

“I am honoured to have been associated, in some small way, with Garth and the DTP.”
Paul Hunt

“Garth was such an inspiring figure. I learned a lot from him when I met him in Darwin during a DTP training. Kindly bring my warm thoughts to those he left behind, may they be comforted with the thought that Garth has touched many lives in a positive way.”
Minnie Degawan

“That is such sad news – and such a huge loss to the human rights advocacy community.”
Katie Kiss

“He was the first Professor I had ever met in person, as an orator and teacher of human and Indigenous rights, he grabbed my heart and soul and I am now for-ever a human rights defender.”
Tania Mcleod

“Like so many of his students I truly loved your father. He had an amazing ability to bring out capacity in people that they did not see in themselves. I met him doing post graduate courses and he invited me to speak at a forum with him about the Mabo decision in around 1994. From then on, we were friends and he would direct opportunities my way to share the task of helping people understand what Mabo meant – something I would never have thought to do but which it was a privilege to do with his encouragement… He will always be present in the work that we carry on built on the understandings he created for us all.” … read more
Susan Burton Phillips

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