The Intersecting Professions of the International Law Adviser and Diplomat in a Rising Asia

32 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2013

See all articles by Dr McCosker

Dr McCosker

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Date Written: December 5, 2013


This paper examines the professional roles of international law advisers working for Governments in the Asian region, and in particular the relationships between these roles and the professional practice of diplomacy. The paper concentrates on the institutional arrangements for the professional practice of international law within Government, and argues that these institutional arrangements play a critical role in shaping the professional roles of legal advisers. It focuses on four countries across the Asia Pacific region: China, India, Australia and Malaysia. Central to this investigation are three overarching questions: to what extent is the primary site of practice of Government legal advisers within foreign ministries, or is the picture more complex, with legal advisers spread out in other arrangements across Government? How do these institutional arrangements reflect, and also condition, the professional identities of these legal advisers – in particular where legal advisers simultaneously assume several professional and institutional functions, or switch from one to another? And, more broadly, what might these arrangements reveal about how Governments perceive the relationships between the professions of international law and diplomacy?

Keywords: international law; international lawyers; international legal profession; international legal adviser; diplomacy; diplomat; Asia; Asia Pacific; China; India; Australia; Government

Suggested Citation

McCosker, Sarah, The Intersecting Professions of the International Law Adviser and Diplomat in a Rising Asia (December 5, 2013). ESIL 2013 5th Research Forum: International Law as a Profession Conference Paper No. 9/2013, Available at SSRN: or

Sarah McCosker (Contact Author)

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ( email )

19 avenue de la Paix
Geneva, CH 1202

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