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Joanna Harrington, BA (UBC), JD (Victoria), PhD (Cambridge)



About Me

Joanna Harrington joined the academy, first as a lecturer in law at the University of Nottingham, and then as an Assistant Professor at Western University, before joining the University of Alberta as an Associate Professor in 2004. She was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2009.

Her teaching and research activities focus on matters of constitutional law and international law, including topics of foreign relations law, the law and practice of international organizations, the interplay between national bills of rights and international human rights law, and issues of international and transnational criminal law. An award-winning professor, her work has earned the Martha Cook Piper Research Prize (2007), a Killam Annual Professorship (2012), a senior Fulbright Scholar award (2016), and the Canadian Association of Law Teachers Prize for Academic Excellence (2018), as well as visiting appointments at the University of New South Wales, the University of Oxford, and the University of Texas at Austin. An experienced traveller, she has taught law as an invited professor in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Puerto Rico and Suriname.

Dr. Harrington’s research activities often explore the national significance of international law obligations, with her journal articles appearing in the American Journal of International Law, The Canadian Yearbook of International Law, Constitutional Forum, the International & Comparative Law Quarterly, the McGill Law Journal, Queen’s Law Journal and the Supreme Court Law Review, among others. She is also the author of the Public International Law title for the Halsbury’s Laws of Canada series (LexisNexis 2010; reissue 2014), a co-author of International Law: Doctrine, Practice, and Theory, 2nd ed (Irwin Law, 2014), and a co-editor of Experts, Networks and International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Called to the bar in 1995, her work also draws upon her experiences in practice, including a two-year university-to-government secondment with Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (now Global Affairs Canada), and previously, her service as a legal adviser with a member of Britain’s House of Lords during a period of significant constitutional reform. She has participated in the negotiation of treaties, resolutions and declarations at the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and served in New York as a member of Canada’s official delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

She has also testified as an expert witness before parliamentary committees, assisted counsel in private practice on matters of treaty law, diplomatic immunities, human rights, and extradition, and contributed to training programs in international law for judges, diplomats, and military officers. Her consultancy experience includes work with the United Nations Development Programme, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and the Judicial Studies Board of England and Wales (now the Judicial College). From 2010-2015, she served as an associate dean with campus-wide responsibilities for the quality and standards of graduate education.

A past recipient of several research grants, she is currently a member of a $2.5 million SSHRC Partnership Grant project bringing together law professors and NGO lawyers to promote access to justice for victims of serious international crimes.


  • Foreign relations law

  • National bills of rights

  • International human rights law

  • International and transnational criminal law

  • International organizations


  • Public international law

  • International human rights law

  • International dispute settlement

  • International criminal law