Aruna Sathanapally - Director of Legal Advocacy


Dr Aruna Sathanapally leads the Human Rights Law Centre’s Sydney office and its work on democratic freedoms.

Since 2014, Aruna has practiced as a barrister at 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers, specialising in public law, international law, market regulation and employment law. Prior to being called to the Bar, Aruna was a senior lawyer at the Australian Government Solicitor where she defended Australia’s tobacco plain packaging regulations from international legal challenges. Before returning to Australia, Aruna was a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company, based in London, where she specialized in regulatory strategy, sustainable development and global public health for a broad range of clients across the private sector, government and civil society.

Aruna has spent a significant part of her career in the United Kingdom, where she completed a Bachelor of Civil Law, MPhil in Law and DPhil in Law at the University of Oxford, as the 2006 Menzies Scholar in Law, and having been awarded the 2006 John Monash Award to undertake research on how better regulate the global economy to protect social goals. Her research examined institutional design to enhance ethical and evidence-based public decision-making, particularly the design of human rights instruments and their effect on non-judicial institutions. She is the author of Beyond Disagreement: Open Remedies in Human Rights Adjudication (Oxford University Press, 2012), which sets out her empirical research on the effectiveness of declarations of incompatibility under the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act 1998. She has also published on the constitutional role of parliaments, and methods to enhance democratic deliberation.

On 1 January 2016, Aruna was appointed as the legal adviser to Australia’s parliamentary Joint Committee of Human Rights, assisting the Committee to scrutinize proposed and existing legislation against Australia’s obligations under the seven major international treaties protecting human rights. She served in this role until the end of 2017, alongside her practice at the Bar.