Jennifer Robinson headshot

Jennifer Robinson

Human Rights Attorney

For almost a decade human rights Attorney Jennifer Robinson has represented Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The case has placed her at the center of the most important and controversial legal case of the 21st century, fundamentally changing how we understand journalism, the concept of digital transparency and putting “the right to know” center stage — fueling an infowar which is still raging. WikiLeaks is the case you know. Robinson is equally passionate about the cases you don’t know.

Robinson grew up in a small Australian town with an insatiable curiosity about the world that has produced a global impact. Exceeding expectations, first as a Rhodes scholar, then as a lawyer, Robinson’s intellect, compelling advocacy, and principled commitment have given her a prominent international profile in cases where technology, freedom of speech, environmental issues, women’s causes, and human rights intersect.

Robinson’s commitment to global change is unyielding and she wants to invite more lawyers to the fight. Seeing the law as a social justice tool strengthening movements for positive change – Robinson worked with a philanthropist to create a global human rights program – the Bertha Justice Initiative – which has invested millions in strategic litigation and campaigns, as well as education and fellowships for the next generation of movement lawyers around the world. Because of her unexpected career trajectory and her desire to give back, Robinson is committed to inspiring young people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds to see and realize their potential.

Robinsons’s talks are aimed at inspiring and empowering people to see their individual and collective agency and capacity to take on injustice and create change.

BIO

Jen Robinson is an Australian human rights lawyer at Doughty Street Chambers in London; specializing in human rights, media, public, and international law. Described as “an eloquent activist for the world’s downtrodden and disenfranchised” and a lawyer “who may well be the new face of human-rights law”, the Rhodes Project lists her as one of the most famous Rhodes scholar women along with Rachel Maddow, Susan Rice, Naomi Wolf, and Chrystia Freeland.

Since 2010 Robinson has been warning about the grave free speech implications of the Obama administration’s criminal investigation into WikiLeaks for media organizations and journalists everywhere. In 2019, the indictment of Assange by the Trump administration has been described as “the most significant and terrifying threat to the First Amendment in the 21st century.”

Her work often involves UN engagement advising governments, individuals and organizations on international law and human rights issues. She acts for the BBC World Service over Iran’s persecution of BBC Persian journalists, who face a collective national security criminal investigation and asset freeze in Iran, which is the first time in the BBC’s history that it has engaged with the UN over the protection of its journalists. She recently provided expert evidence on international law to the UN inquiry into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and acts for the family of murdered Maltese journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, seeking justice and accountability.

Jen describes the common thread of her legal work as helping those who have the courage to stand up for what is right against powerful interests. In her TED talk, Courage is Contagious, she tells the story of her client Benny Wenda, the leader of the liberation movement of West Papua, which – like East Timor before it – is struggling for self-determination from Indonesia. Jen worked on his trial when he was a political prisoner and helped him and his family escape to the UK. Described as “the Nelson Mandela of West Papua”, Mr. Wenda has since been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her talk received two standing ovations from the audience of 2,500 in the Sydney Opera House.

Last year, Jen became the youngest woman to appear before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the advisory opinion proceedings about the Chagos Islands. The ICJ considered the legality of UK control of Diego Garcia, the location of the US’s most important strategic military base. Mauritius has long claimed British control was unlawful and that the territory should be returned but faced significant opposition from the UK, US and their allies. Appearing for another small island state, Vanuatu, she successfully argued in support of the right to self-determination and Mauritius’ claim-laying down the principles which will also apply to West Papua’s case.

She has a particular focus on human rights, free speech and freedom of information, advising media organizations, journalists, social movements and activists. She has acted for media organizations including The New York Times, CNN and Bloomberg, as well as WikiLeaks throughout their numerous publications and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in the wake of the Panama and Paradise Papers. Other recent cases include successfully challenging a sweeping anti-protest injunction obtained by a major multinational corporation for environmental campaigners and having the UK government’s fracking policy declared unlawful on the grounds the government failed to consider scientific developments in climate change.

Jen Robinson is an Australian human rights lawyer at Doughty Street Chambers in London; specializing in human rights, media, public, and international law. Described as “an eloquent activist for the world’s downtrodden and disenfranchised” and a lawyer “who may well be the new face of human-rights law”, the Rhodes Project lists her as one of the most famous Rhodes scholar women along with Rachel Maddow, Susan Rice, Naomi Wolf, and Chrystia Freeland.

Since 2010 Robinson has been warning about the grave free speech implications of the Obama administration’s criminal investigation into WikiLeaks for media organizations and journalists everywhere. In 2019, the indictment of Assange by the Trump administration has been described as “the most significant and terrifying threat to the First Amendment in the 21st century.”

Her work often involves UN engagement advising governments, individuals and organizations on international law and human rights issues. She acts for the BBC World Service over Iran’s persecution of BBC Persian journalists, who face a collective national security criminal investigation and asset freeze in Iran, which is the first time in the BBC’s history that it has engaged with the UN over the protection of its journalists. She recently provided expert evidence on international law to the UN inquiry into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and acts for the family of murdered Maltese journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, seeking justice and accountability.

Jen describes the common thread of her legal work as helping those who have the courage to stand up for what is right against powerful interests. In her TED talk, Courage is Contagious, she tells the story of her client Benny Wenda, the leader of the liberation movement of West Papua, which – like East Timor before it – is struggling for self-determination from Indonesia. Jen worked on his trial when he was a political prisoner and helped him and his family escape to the UK. Described as “the Nelson Mandela of West Papua”, Mr. Wenda has since been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her talk received two standing ovations from the audience of 2,500 in the Sydney Opera House.

Last year, Jen became the youngest woman to appear before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the advisory opinion proceedings about the Chagos Islands. The ICJ considered the legality of UK control of Diego Garcia, the location of the US’s most important strategic military base. Mauritius has long claimed British control was unlawful and that the territory should be returned but faced significant opposition from the UK, US and their allies. Appearing for another small island state, Vanuatu, she successfully argued in support of the right to self-determination and Mauritius’ claim-laying down the principles which will also apply to West Papua’s case.

She has a particular focus on human rights, free speech and freedom of information, advising media organizations, journalists, social movements and activists. She has acted for media organizations including The New York Times, CNN and Bloomberg, as well as WikiLeaks throughout their numerous publications and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in the wake of the Panama and Paradise Papers. Other recent cases include successfully challenging a sweeping anti-protest injunction obtained by a major multinational corporation for environmental campaigners and having the UK government’s fracking policy declared unlawful on the grounds the government failed to consider scientific developments in climate change.

SPEECH TOPICS

A Conversation with Jennifer Robinson

Untold Stories of Injustice

The Criminalization of Truth-Telling and Journalism