Introducing Dr Penelope J. Ridings

New Zealand candidate for the International Law Commission
2023-2027

“As we collectively turn to face some of the world’s most intractable challenges, the most enduring solutions will be found within the field of international law”
Penelope Ridings

Why Penelope Ridings?

Dr Penelope Ridings, MNZM, is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished international lawyers.  She has extensive experience representing States and finding common ground and solutions to complex legal issues.

In her long and varied career with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, she has been both Chief International Legal Adviser and Ambassador, and has developed a deep understanding of the academic and diplomatic aspects of international law. 

“International law is central to addressing contemporary global challenges such as climate change, managing the health and resources of our oceans, and threats to security, including health and cybersecurity. I will bring expertise, experience, and strong commitment to that task,” she says.

“I will apply my diverse experience working across a range of inter-disciplinary and emerging legal issues to ensure that the work of the ILC is aligned with contemporary needs. ”

“I bring my unique experiences and perspective to promote greater understanding of, and engagement with, the ILC’s work. I will advocate for user-friendly ILC decisions and activities that encourage wider interest in and understanding of international law.”
Penelope Ridings

Penelope Ridings’ candidacy is supported by the Governments of Australia and Canada.


Caption: Dr Ridings appearing as Agent for New Zealand before the International Court of Justice in Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v Japan, New Zealand intervening) 2014. Photo: ICJ:CIJ

Significant Appointments

  • Appointed to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) “Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement”
  • Adjudicated high profile, complex disputes as a WTO Dispute Panellist
  • Acted as Counsel and Advocate before international tribunals, including the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the WTO
  • On the Panels of Arbitrators and Conciliators at the International Centre for Settlement of International Disputes
  • Legal Adviser to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
  • Chair of the First Performance Review Panel of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation
  • New Zealand’s Ambassador to Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 2008-11
  • New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, 2001-04

New Zealand and the International Law Commission

New Zealand places great importance on upholding the role and rule of international law – and Penelope Ridings’ ILC candidature reflects that.

New Zealand is a long-standing champion of the ILC.  Our key priority is ensuring a strong, representative and inclusive ILC membership, with a contemporary and relevant work programme that responds to the issues critical to States.  Penelope Ridings is the right candidate to deliver that. 

This is the first time in 20 years, New Zealand has put forward an ILC candidate – our approach is only to do so when we have a candidate of the highest standing, like Dr Ridings. 

In an age where new technologies are advancing with pace, the ILC needs to be adaptable, able to identify emerging issues and find practical legal solutions to these challenges,”
Penelope Ridings