The Hon Michael Kirby Ac, Cmg

Until 2 February 2009, the Honourable Michael Kirby was, one of the seven Justices of the High Court of Australia, the country’s highest constitutional and appellate court. At the time of his retirement, Justice Kirby was Australia’s longest-serving judge.

First appointed to federal judicial office in 1975, he had served in a succession of federal and State judicial offices, including as President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal (1984-1996), the country’s busiest appellate court. He also served as President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands.

In addition to these judicial appointments, Michael Kirby has served on many national and international bodies. Between 1995 and 1998 he was President of the International Commission of Jurists when that organisation adopted sexual orientation and HIV status as major concerns for its mandate.

He was Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-1996) and placed HIV issues at the head of human rights concerns. He presently serves on the Global Reference Panel on Human Rights of UNAIDS and was a member of the inaugural WHO Global Commission on AIDS (1988-1992).

He was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal in 1991 and named laureate of the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education in 1998. In November 2007 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed Justice Kirby to her Judicial Reference Group on Human Rights and the Judiciary.