Sydney Declaration

What is the Sydney Declaration?

Many facets of forensic science have been challenged for more than a decade. Scholars, forensic science organisations and peak Government bodies have collectively identified various issues or concerns relating to education, training, quality management and more. Many of the identified challenges may be linked to a more fundamental issue; there is little to no consensus on how best forensic science can be characterised as a discipline. Because of this shortcoming, it has been challenging to define the core principles of forensic science. This is a significant roadblock for the ongoing development and improvement of forensic science. How can we teach, research, and apply forensic science effectively if we are unclear about its fundamental principles?

These principles have now been debated by a group of more than 15 world-leading forensic scientists at the forefront of the planning for the 22nd Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences in conjunction with the 25th Symposium of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society. Unfortunately, this meeting could not be hosted in Sydney in 2020 as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To acknowledge this excellent work and wonderful support for IAFS 2020, a live-streamed and recorded event entitled ‘Paving the Way for IAFS 2023’ covered current and future challenges in forensic science under the IAFS 2023 theme of ‘where to from here?’. Attendees gained early access to the principles titled the Sydney Declaration, which provides a fundamental definition and principles for forensic science.

Since then these principles have been refined and are now officially published as a peer-reviewed paper in Open Access in Forensic Science International. We are still seeking your feedback using the link below.

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Sydney Declaration

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Dr Rebecca Bucht

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Dr Rebecca Bucht is the Head of CSI services at the Forensic Science Laboratory of the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation. Prior to returning to her native Finland in 2017, she worked as a consultant for the US DOJ International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Training Program (ICITAP) as a senior forensic advisor for the program in Algeria and with smaller roles in the Philippines, Tanzania, Brazil and Tunisia. Rebecca received her PhD in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Forensic Science from the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York in 2010. She did her dissertation research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she also taught as an adjunct professor for the Forensic Science department.

Her interests include strategies for improving the contribution of forensic science to the criminal justice system, advocating for the benefits of a holistic approach to forensic science as well as operational solutions for mitigating the effects of cognitive biases in forensic examination procedures. Her past research has focused on the use of polarized light to visualize and document blood stains on dark surfaces, the use of multivariate statistics and quantitative x-ray diffraction data for forensic examination of duct tapes, as well as cognitive profiling of fingerprint examiners.

Dr Heesun Chung

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Dr. Heesun Chung is a distinguished professor at the department of Forensic Science in SungKyunKwan University. She obtained her PhD in Pharmacy from Sookmyung Women’s University, Korea in 1987, and subsequently was awarded Foreign Commonwealth Office Scholarship from the UK government to do further postdoctoral study in King’s College, London.

She was a dean and professor of graduate school of analytical science and technology at the Chungnam National University from 2013 to 2020. She was the Director General of the National Forensic Service (formally National Institute of Scientific Investigation), Korea from 2008 to 2012. She had also held many forensic related posts in Korea such as Head of Department of Forensic Science, Director of Narcotics Analysis Division, Director of Drug and Toxicology at the National Institute of Scientific Investigation and many more.

Internationally, she was the 22nd president of the International Association of Forensic Sciences (IAFS) from 2011 to 2014 and hosted IAFS 2014 in Korea. She served as the 13th president of the International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT) from 2014 to 2017 and has been an executive Board member since 2002 to present. From 2019, she has been a member of the International Panel of Forensic Experts of UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). She is currently a president of KOFWST (The Korean Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations).

She was awarded many medals and awards including, a Commander of the most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) from UK government, a medal for the distinguished service by the Korean government, a medal for the excellence in Forensic science from the Mongolian Government, the most outstanding Woman Scientist award from the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Frank Crispino

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Graduate from the French Air Force Academy, Bachelor of Law (Paris XI University), MPhil and PhD in Forensic Science from the Ecole des sciences criminelles, Lausanne (Switzerland), postgraduate from the French War College, Colonel Frank Crispino joined l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) in 2012, after 25 years in the French Gendarmerie.

Besides his two commands of Criminal Investigation Departments in Bourges and Bordeaux and his involvement for 10 years on counterterrorism in France and the Middle-East, he created and served as head of the Forensic Anthropology Department at the Institut de recherche criminelle de la gendarmerie nationale – IRCGN (1993-1996), which grounded the present French national Disaster Victimes Identification unit, and headed the Fingermarks and Shoemarks department (1997 – 1999).

He is a fellow of the International Association for Identification, the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, the Association Québécoise de criminalistique, the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, the Association internationale des criminologues de langue française. author or co-author/co-editor of 4 books, 19 book chapters, more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, and more than 100 presentations worldwide. He is a director of the UQTR Forensic Research Group (, and a regular researcher at the International Center for Comparative Criminology in Montreal (

Dr. Peter De Forest

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Dr. Peter R. De Forest is Professor Emeritus of Criminalistics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York where he taught for 38 years. Prior to joining the faculty and helping to found the Forensic Science BS, MS, and Ph.D. Programs at John Jay and the City University of New York, he worked in several forensic laboratories. He began his career in forensic science at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Crime Laboratory, Ventura, California in 1960. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree (1964) in Criminalistics and a Doctor of Criminology Degree in Criminalistics (1969) from the University of California at Berkeley, under Dr. Paul L. Kirk. Professor De Forest has followed in the steps of his mentors by combining a generalist approach with the highest rigor of scientific analysis. In addition to his university teaching and research activities, for many years he has also served as a scientific consultant and expert witness for police departments, prosecutor’s offices, municipal law departments, public defender agencies, and private attorneys in criminal and civil casework in the US and Canada. The consultation has included advisory panel membership on major case investigations in the UK and Canada. He is the author or co-author of nine (9) book chapters, a textbook, and over forty (40) articles in scientific journals. In addition to membership in several scientific societies, he served as a member of the editorial boards of journals including the Journal of Forensic Sciences. For over ten years, dating from the inception of the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC), Professor De Forest served as the chairman of ABC Examination Committee, which was responsible for designing and administering certification examinations in a range of forensic science specialties. Professor De Forest has presented lectures and workshops for several professional societies and in other universities, which included being a Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland. Dr. De Forest was a founding commissioner with the Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and was Criminalistics Section Chairman of the AAFS for 2006-2007. Awards received include the Paul L. Kirk Award of the Criminalistics Section of the AAFS (1999), the August Köhler Award of the State Microscopical Society of Illinois (2008), the Distinguished Faculty Award at the 50th Anniversary Alumni Reception of John Jay College of Criminal Justice (2015), the 2017 Distinguished Fellow Award of the AAFS (2017), the Locard Award of the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners (2017), and the Ernst Abbe Award of the New York Microscopical Society (2018). He is an honorary life member of the NEAFS and the CAC.

Prof Chris Lennard

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Prof Chris Lennard obtained a PhD in Chemistry (Forensic Science) from the Australian National University in 1986 before taking up a postdoctoral position with the School of Forensic Science at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He returned to Australia in 1994 to work for Forensic Services, Australian Federal Police (AFP), initially as Coordinator Laboratory Services and then as Manager Forensic Operations Support. In this latter role, he was the Chief Scientist, responsible for coordinating forensic research and development across the AFP’s forensic portfolio. In October 2006, he moved to the University of Canberra and took up the role of Professor of Forensic Studies (Head of Discipline). After 8 year in this position, he relocated to Sydney in 2014 to the forensic science program at Western Sydney University (Hawkesbury Campus, Richmond). His research interests include the forensic analysis of trace evidence, the evaluation of portable equipment for forensic applications, and the detection of finger-marks. He has published several book chapters and over 130 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, and he is a co-author of the textbook “Fingerprints and Other Ridge Skin Impressions” (CRC Press, 2nd edition published in 2016).

Prof Pierre Margot

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Prof Pierre Margot obtained a combined degree in forensic science and criminology at Lausanne University, Switzerland, a MSc degree and a PhD degree in forensic science at Strathclyde University, UK. Postdoctoral research led him from Salt Lake City (University of Utah), to the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and the Australian National University in Canberra. Holder of the chair in forensic science since 1986 as the 4th professor occupying the first academic chair in forensic science, created in 1909, he led a research centre and developed further the discipline as a key actor of forensic intelligence, investigative science and in providing evaluative reports. Internationally acclaimed he received major awards (Douglas M. Lucas Medal, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, doctorate honoriscausa, University of Québec (Canada), French speaking Pantheon of criminalistics, ENFSI contributor award and the John Dondero Award of the IAI. Pierre Margot is associate editor of Forensic Science International, and author of numerous publications.

Prof Michelle D. Miranda

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Prof Michelle D. Miranda is a tenured Associate Professor in the Center for Criminal Justice Studies at Farmingdale State College, State University of New York. She has a Ph.D. in criminal justice, forensic science concentration, from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Dr. Miranda is certified by the American Board of Criminalistics and a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Prior to entering academia, she worked as a Criminalist in the Trace Evidence Section of the New York City Police Department Crime Lab. Her research interests include forensic science and criminalistics, detection and investigation, analytical reasoning, gender-based violence and transnational security. Dr. Miranda is the author of the book Forensic Analysis of Tattoos and Tattoo Inks.


Prof Michael S. Pollanen

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Michael S. Pollanen is Professor and Vice-Chair (Innovation) of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto and the Chief Forensic Pathologist for Ontario, Canada. He graduated from the University of Toronto with an MD (1999) and PhD (1995) and completed his residency in 2003. Professor Pollanen’s main academic focus the application of forensic medicine to Global Health by training forensic pathologists and strengthening forensic capacity in the Global South. He has been involved in case work or training missions in: Algeria, Bermuda, Cambodia, Central African Republic, East Timor, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Palestine, Thailand, Uganda and Uzbekistan.  His current research interest is nodding Syndrome in Uganda. He has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Professor Pollanen is a member of the forensic advisory board of the International Committee of the Red Cross and is a Past President of the International Association of Forensic Science (2015-17). He is a Founder of Forensic Pathology in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. His professional duties include supervising and directing the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service (9000 autopsies/year), conducting autopsy (>4500 autopsies conducted to date), testifying in court (>250 court testimonies to date), and directing academic activities in forensic pathology at the University of Toronto. He is also a Deputy Chief Coroner in Ontario.

Prof Olivier Ribaux

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Prof Olivier Ribaux is a professor at the School of Criminal Justice, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. His research is mainly focused on the use of traces in crime analysis (traceology and forensic intelligence). Beyond his academic career, Olivier had been for several years a crime analyst of the police cantonale of Vaud in Switzerland. His responsibility was to develop, harmonize and implement crime analysis and criminal intelligence analysis methods across 6 police forces and to support specific investigations in various types of crimes. He is now developing a focus on digital transformations in forensic science and policing. He teaches crime analysis and forensic intelligence to university students, police officers and magistrates.


A/Prof Alastair Ross

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From 2003 to 2008 Alastair was Director of the Victoria Police Forensic Services Department, a full service forensic facility with over 300 staff. He returned as director of NIFS from 2008 to 2015. Alastair holds a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and a Master of Applied Science (Research) from the University of South Australia. Alastair received the Adelaide Medal from the International Association of Forensic Sciences for international contributions to forensic science in 2002 and the John Harber Phillips Award in 2017.  He is a life member of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS) and a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Distinguished Prof Claude Roux

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Armed with a strong fundamental holistic and reputable education provided by the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, under Lucas Medal winner Professor Pierre Margot, Claude migrated to Australia in 1996. He has been pivotal to the development of forensic science in his adopted country over the past 21 years, promoting it from an embryonic and disparate domain to a research-based and coherent discipline of international standing. He developed and led the first undergraduate degree and PhD program in forensic science in Australia. This resulted in a much-needed cultural change. In 2002, he became the founding Director of the UTS Centre for Forensic Science (CFS  – a University Research Strength). Today CFS is considered to be one of the world’s leading academic institutions in forensic science. He has achieved and sustained an international reputation in forensic science education and research and has contributed to promoting Australia as a global leader in this field. His work in forensic science research, education, training and ethics has had a significant impact worldwide. He has provided new tools, evidence-based information and data for a more reliable use of science in the courtroom, in investigation and intelligence. His research has also had an impact on homeland security through strong partnerships with law enforcement, defence and analytical industries.​

Sheila Willis

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Sheila Willis is the current President of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSoFS) and a Fellow of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS). She spent most of her career in Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) where she was Director General from 2002 to 2017. She was an International Guest Researcher at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 2017-2019 and has been consulting privately since then. She received an Honorary Doctorate from University College Dublin in 2019 where she received her graduate qualifications and carried out research in organometallic chemistry for her Ph.D. at the beginning of her career. She is a recipient of the Boyle Higgins medal from the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland and has delivered a number of lectures in various fora including the Stuart Kind memorial lecture. She chaired the group who produced the ENFSI guideline for evaluative reporting and has published on the topic of ethics and on quality in Forensic Science.

Professor Niamh NicDaeid

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Professor Niamh Nic Daeid is an award winning Chartered Chemist and authorised forensic scientist. She is a Professor of Forensic Science and Director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (a 10year, £10million centre for disruptive research) at the University of Dundee. She has been involved in forensic science education, research and casework for over 25 years.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and holds fellowships of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Chartered Society of Forensic Science, the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland, the Royal Statistical Society and the UK Association of Fire Investigators.

Niamh has held leadership positions with the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) as a past chair of the fire and explosion investigation working group and has chaired the INTERPOL forensic science managers symposium, a triannual meeting of forensic science laboratory directors from around the World.  She was vice chair of the scientific advisory board of the International Criminal Court for 6 years and acts as a forensic expert advisor to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  She is an appointed Commissioner on the Dundee Drugs Commission investigating drug related deaths in Dundee.

She is a registered forensic practitioner with the UK National Crime Agency and is authorised as a Forensic Chemist under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.  She has led the development of Codes of Practice for fire investigation in the UK and Europe and has developed international analytical guidance for the United Nations. She sits on the steering committee of the Judicial primers project led by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and the Lord President of Scotland in collaboration with the Royal Society and Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Niamh has received a range awards including the ENFSI distinguished scientist award, the Pete Ganci award for services to fire investigation, the Stephen Fry Award for public engagement and the Royal Society of Edinburgh Medal for public engagement.  She has published over 200 peer reviewed research papers and book chapters and holds a research grant portfolio in excess of £27 million.


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