THE COUNCIL of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) has elected Dr. Anne Therese Gallagher as its president.

The Council also appointed a 14-member governing committee and ratified its Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo.

Dr Gallagher, a South Coast of NSW resident, was elected by the ICMC Council’s 53 members, who represent national Episcopal conferences in as many countries.

A practicing Catholic, she is an Australian-born lawyer, practitioner and scholar whose experience spans more than 25 years.

She began her international career in 1992 as a legal officer with the United Nations.

From 1998 to 2002, she was a senior adviser to Mary Robinson, high commissioner for human rights – playing a key role in development of international laws and policies and coordinating UN agencies to that end.

Since 2002, she has continued to work closely with the UN while holding multiple leadership positions, including within the world’s largest criminal justice intervention against trafficking (2003-present).

Her current posts include co-chair of the International Bar Association’s presidential task force on human trafficking; member of the international migration organisation’s advisory board; and an academic adviser to Doughty St Chambers (the UK’s leading civil liberties law firm).

She was involved, from the earliest stage, in the Vatican’s efforts to address human trafficking and is currently a member of the Archbishop of Sydney’s taskforce on modern slavery.

Dr Gallagher has lectured at many universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Stanford.

Her publications include many articles in major scientific journals, as well as two reference texts: the prize-winning The International Law of Human Trafficking (2010), and its companion volume, The International Law of Migrant Smuggling (2014).

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She has received multiple awards for her work including: Australian Freedom Award (2011); US. Government Trafficking in Persons Hero (2012); Australian National University Alumni of the Year (2013); and Peace Woman of the Year (2015).

In 2012, she was appointed officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished service to law and human rights.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from Macquarie University; a Master of International Law from Australia National University and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Utrecht.

The ICMC Council met in Rome between March 6 and 8 with members being received by Pope Francis.

The assembly is ICMC’s highest governing body and is composed of representatives of its national members, including national Catholic bishop conferences and Catholic-inspired institutions engaged in migration and refugee issues. It meets every four years.