His appointment to the High Court came in 1996, and in later years he was Acting Chief Justice of Australia twice.
In addition to his judicial duties, Michael Kirby held many other roles. He was elected Chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney (1984-1993). He served as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-1992); President of the International Commission of Jurists (1995-1998); UN Special Representative on Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-1996); and member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005), among other duties.
Following his judicial retirement, Michael Kirby was elected President of the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators Australia (2009-2010).
In 2010, he was awarded the Gruber Justice Prize, and in 2013 he was appointed a Commissioner of the UNAIDS Commission on Sustainable Health (2013-2014). Later in 2013 he was appointed to head the Commission of Inquiry on Alleged Human Rights Violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2013-2014).
He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Laws of Australia and has been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor by twelve universities. In 2009 and 2010, Kirby was selected by readers of samesame.com.au as one of the 25 most influential gay Australians. He participates regularly in local and international conferences and meetings and has been awarded many honorary doctorates.