United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea 


'A Private Life' is available from all good bookshops from
28 September 2011 or from www.allenandunwin.com



For Chinese readers, I have attached a translation of a chapter of my book  ‘’A Private Life’’ concerning my partner Johan. This will give them an insight into me and my life. And the importance of love to every human being.

中文读者们: 我将我的《私人生活》一书中关于我的伴侣Johan一章的中文译本附上。 想来会帮助你们更多地了解我和我的生活, 以及爱对每个人都是多么重要。




Michael Kirby Co-Winner of the 2010 Gruber Justice Prize




A leadership story: Michael Kirby

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How much is cheap meat really costing us?
by The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG Former High Court Judge, Patron of Voiceless

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GANDHI ORATION: Former High Court judge Michael Kirby gives this year’s Gandhi Oration at the University of New South Wales
30 January 2013

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Art Gallery of NSW: The Hon Michael Kirby: Francis Bacon Celebrity Event
23 January 2013

36m 18s
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"Towards Growing Links between the Supreme Court of India and the High Court of Australia "
05 October 2012

1hr 14m 16s
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"Ngoc Tram Nguyen Scholarship Dinner "
21 September 2012

2m 31s
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The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG
Judicial Farewell - High Court 2009

Attorney-General, The Hon Robert McClelland MP; President of the Australian Bar Association, Mr Thomas Bathurst, QC; President of the Law Council of Australia, Mr John Corcoran; President of my home Bar, the Bar Association of New South Wales, Ms Anna Katzmann SC;The Hon T E F Hughes, AO, QC; Judicial, Academic and other Colleagues; Family and Friends:

In this room, where independent judges uphold the law and the Constitution, I start by honouring the people of Australia, in all of their diversity, most of them happily unaware of what we do here today.  Fortunate is a land that lives in confidence under the rule of law, with elected parliaments, uncorrupted officials and independent judges.


Welcome to my home page. This allows me to speak directly to you. Until now, I have mainly had to speak through the forbidding pages of court reports and formal legal texts. Of course this has not stopped me in the past from speaking directly. Basically, I always try to write in the same way as I speak.

My career has included work as a judge in two great Australian appellate courts - the High Court of Australia and the Court of Appeal of New South Wales. This website helps you to find:
  • My judicial opinions in the courts on which I have served;
  • My speeches, articles, book reviews and other 'pearls of wisdom';
  • For the first time, this website has my speeches back to 1975, the year I helped set up the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). Virtually all of the speeches are here. In fact, I lay claim to inventing the 'blog'. Follow my speeches and you can track my activities, experiences, thinking and feelings over 34 years of public life in Australia and abroad;
  • My multimedia gallery provides photos and films of my work and home life;
  • The website will offer filmed and recorded excerpts from speeches old and new as well as podcasts that can be downloaded.

Everyone who visits this space has a right to agree or disagree with what they find. Causing occasional offence is not the greatest sin.  Being boring, self-righteous or unkind compete for that award. I welcome feedback and suggestions as I embrace new adventures in my life.  These may take me into arbitration and mediation; academic teaching and research; new international activities; and work completely outside the "Great Game" of the law.


The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG - 2014 Centenary Summit

Melbourne - Saturday, 22 November 2014


Epic Exchange Between Justice Kirby and DPRK Councillor Kim Song 

“Michael Kirby and  Kim Song, North Korean Ambassador to United Nations, disagree in New York.

On 22 October 2014 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, a side event to the meeting of the General Assembly was organised by the UN Missions of Australia, Botswana and Panama.  This event, chaired by Ambassador Gary Quinlan (Australia) included participation of DPRK refugees.  Exceptionally, Kim Song, the DPRK Deputy Head of Mission attended and challenged the report of the Commission of Inquiry on DPRK which Michael Kirby had chaired.  Mr Kirby urged DPRK to release the COI report in North Korea and to invite COI members to Pyongyang to explain it and answer questions. "

Watch the video here


Photo of the Honourable E.G. Whitlam AC QC with prize winning film maker and author Daryl Dellora, who was author of Michael Kirby: Law, Love & Life, published by Penguin Books (2012).

The photo was taken on 14 November 2012.  Reproduced with permission. 

Michael Kirby's presentation on International Child Abductions in Australian Courts on 14 October 2014.
ABC: Q and A


Michael Kirby, Nafsiah Mboi, Franoise Barr-Sinoussi, Amanda Vanstone & Nic Holas

Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Webcast Recording -1 May 2014

Click on the below image to watch the seminar


The Hon. Michael Kirby Public Lecture - 'Will human rights in North Korea change?'
Friday, 1 August 2014 at 12:00pm, JP Belshaw Lecture Theatre (LT1)

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Michael Kirby opened Yoko Ono’s exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art

15 NOVEMBER 2013



Click here to download speech

New Developments in Animal Welfare Law

Lecture at Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand
Tuesday, 26 March 2013

It opens on a new page

1hr 14m

Report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on DPRK (North Korea is released in Geneva)

On 21 March 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) (during its 22nd Session) established the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (North Korea).  The Commission was established by HRC Resolution A/HRC/RES/22/13.  This mandated the COI to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the DPRK so as to ensure full accountability, in particular, for violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.

The President of the HRC in 2013, (Ambassador H.E. Mr Remigiusz A. Henczel, Poland) on 7 May 2013, named Michael Kirby of Australia and Sonja Biserko of Serbia as Commissioners of the COI.  They joined Mr Marzuki Darusman, past Attorney-General of Indonesia, who is the second holder of the mandate from the HRC as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.  Michael Kirby was also appointed as Chair of the COI.  The Commissioners serve in a non-remunerated, independent, expert capacity.  They took up their duties in the month following their appointment.  The COI was supported by a secretariat of 9 experienced human rights officials provided by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  However, once appointed, the Secretariat was wholly independent of the OHCHR, as were the Commissioners. 

The COI received no cooperation from DPRK which declared that the creation of the body was a hostile political act.  This notwithstanding, the COI repeatedly sort to engage with DPRK.  As Chair, Michael delivered an Oral Update on the work of the COI both to the HRC in Geneva in August 2013 and to the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly in New York in October 2013.

The Report of the COI is to be delivered to the Human Rights Council in Geneva at its current session expected to be on 17 or 18 March 2014.  Meantime, the draft Report (which is being translated into the UN languages) has been published online in Geneva in its original English language version. 

Click here for access to the report

Watch the video on ID Commission of Inquiry on DPRK - 31st Meeting 25th Regular Session of Human Rights Council

"Ten Lessons from the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations  in North Korea" - The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

Michael Kirby Named Patron of Kirby Institute at UNSW

The Hon. Michael Kirby has been named Patron of the Kirby Institute.  The Institute is the new name of the cutting edge centre for scientific and social research into HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections. It is based in the University of New South Wales.  Since 1988, Michael Kirby has had a close association with the global and national HIV response, including through the World Health Organisation, United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS and the Commonwealth of Nations.  The Kirby Institute was named in December 2012 as a major recipient of research funding awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.  Professor David Cooper, Director of the Kirby Institute, received a grant of $12.6 million for a major research program involving 7 groups in Sydney and Melbourne investigating how HIV lies dormant in some parts of the body, evading eradication by HIV therapy.  The research will examine how the immune system responds to the virus.  For further stories CLICK here.