Sir Kenneth Keith has had extensive experience in the area of international law and is considered New Zealand’s pre-eminent international law expert.
He was a faculty member of Victoria University of Wellington, Dean of the Law Faculty from 1977 to 1981 and is now a Professor Emeritus. He was also the Visiting Professor at Osgood Hall Law School in Toronto from 1981 to 1982 and a member of the Office of Legal Affairs (Codification Division) of the United Nations from 1968 to 1970.
He was a member of the New Zealand legal team in the Nuclear Test cases before the International Court of Justice in 1973, 1974, and 1995, and was leader of the New Zealand delegation to the Diplomatic Conference which prepared the additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions in 1977.
He was a member of the Settlement of Investment Disputes in 1994, member of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission under the first additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention for the Protection of War Crimes from 1991 to 2006, and was also president from 2002 to 2006.
Sir Kenneth was appointed a Judge of the New Zealand Court of Appeal in 1996 and of the newly established Supreme Court of New Zealand from 2005 to 2006. He was also a Judge of Appeal in Samoa, the Cook Islands, and Niue, Judge of the Supreme Court of Fiji, and a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council from 1998 to 2003. He was appointed to the International Court of Justice in 2006 for a nine year term, and is the first New Zealander appointed to the Court.
He has published widely on legal matters and contributed extensively to work on national law reform across a number of areas. He was a member of the Board of Editors of the Public Law Review (Melbourne), the New Zealand Law Review, the Journal of Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand and the New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law.
He was a member of a number of professional organisations, including the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, the New Zealand Red Cross, the New Zealand Committee on the Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law, the Royal Commission on the Electoral System, and the Law Commission. He was also a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Society of Legal Scholars (England), and others.
He was appointed a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council in 1998.