John Southalan

MBA, CELTA, LLB Barrister (WA Bar Association)

John Southalan is an Australian lawyer who has practised in commercial and human rights law since the early 1990s. He originally worked with Corrs Chambers Westgarth in general commercial litigation and in finance and local government.

Since 1998, John has mainly worked in relation to human rights and rule of law issues. After two years in Thailand, through the Australian Volunteers program, he has continued occasional volunteer work with the Burma Lawyers Council including researching, writing as well as law/human rights training on the Thai-Burma border.

John has worked for over eight years with Australia's Human Rights Commission and the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation in relation to indigenous land rights. This involves advice and court work. He has had considerable input into industry and governmental reviews as to mining and indigenous rights, and significant involvement in the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development process.

John also writes on various topics including resource taxation and management, indigenous land rights law, common law, and combating impunity.

Publications and Editorial Contacts

Native Title Service, Looseleaf Contact: LN SL Publishing

Awards & Recognition

MBA with Distinction, and Management Degree Prize for best MBA graduate of year.

Speaking Engagement

  • ‘The FPIC Fixation: Indigenous – Mining Law, Internationally and Australia’, 2009/3 Rocky Mountains Mineral Law Foundation Mineral Law Series 22-A
  • ‘Business and Human Rights: relevance for WA lawyers’ 46/1 Brief 6-11
  • ‘Human rights for regulators: using international standards to assist in domestic regulation’ Australian International Law Journal (forthcoming, accepted January 2019)
  • 'Mining the International Guidance on Mining' 59 Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research 165-176
  • 'Say what? The regulation of company statements arising from UNGP processes' 1(1) Human Rights Law Committee News 51-54
  • ‘Environmental impacts & international standards: OECD Guidelines, Chinese Due Diligence Guidelines’ presentation to Land Use Seminar (Piddington Society and EDOWA, Perth, 29 June 2017)
  • ‘Human rights and WA resource companies’ (plenary presentation to AMPLA WA Conference, Perth, 5 May 2017)
  • Human rights and mining companies: standards and procedures, World Initiative of Mining Lawyers Annual Conference (Toledo, Spain, 18 May 2017)
  • ‘Human rights and business lawyers: the 2011 watershed’ 90(12) Australian Law Journal 889-907
  • Parliaments and Mining Agreements: Reviving the Numbed Arm of Government (co-written) International Mining for Development Centre, Perth, 2015
  • 'Parliamentary-ratified agreements in the resources sector' in Long Term Contracts (2013, Federation Press)
  • Mining Law and Policy International Perspectives, Federation Press (2012).
  • 'Common Law v Human Rights: Which Better Protects Freedoms?' Brief, December 2011, 10-14.
  • 'Indigenous People and Resources Development - A Rapidly Changing Legal Landscape', OGEL Journal (Oil, Gas & Energy Law Intelligence) vol 9(4) (with Kenneth Culotta & Archie Fallon)
  • 'What are the implications of human rights for minerals taxation?' Resources Policy, vol 36(3), 214-226.
  • 'CSR, the environment, and false advertising laws' presentation at CSR and Our Planet session at International Bar Association Annual Conference, Buenos Aires, October 2008.
  • 'Hurdles for the judiciary: the application of the Beijing Principles in Australia' paper at the Australasian Law Teachers Association Conference 'Law and Public Policy: Taming the Unruly Horse?', September 2007 (with Kanaga Dharmananda)
  • 'Burma and the common law? An Uncommon question' Thailand Law Journal 2007 Spring (Issue 1) Volume 10
  • 'Impunity and Judicial Independence' Legal Issues on Burma Journal, Vol 17, April 2004
  • 'Military regime to establish base on Mars...or a human rights commission' Legal Issues on Burma Journal, Vol 15, April 2000


  • Committee Member, Indigenous Issues Committee (Australian Bar Association), Business and Human Rights Committee (Law Council of Australia), WA State Committee AMPLA.
  • Member of the Academic Network for the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, Australian Corporate Accountability Network, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (former President), Environmental Defender’s Office of WA, International Bar Association, International Law Association, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
Areas of expertise
Human Rights
Native Title
Mining and Resources
Academic Qualifications
Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (Cambridge University, through International House, Sydney)
Bachelor of Laws (University of Western Australia)
Master of Business Administration (University of Dundee)
Professional Organisation
Australian legal practitioner (ABN 58 778 632 415)
Global Faculty, Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy
Adjunct Associate Professor (Faculty of Law), University of Western Australia and Murdoch University