Research

A lawyer and historian by training, my research lies at the intersection of international law, international relations and transitional justice. I specialize in public international law, international criminal law and peacekeeping, with a regional focus on Africa and the Middle East. My research is informed by a decade of practice and fieldwork in these two regions. I am also interested in research methods and the role of academic expertise in public policy-making.

I have published widely in journals and edited volumes, and I am a regular contributor to leading international law blogs EJIL:Talk! and Opinio Juris. My first book is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

My postdoctoral research, which is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, examines the law and practice of resorting to lethal and non-lethal force to protect civilians in peacekeeping. The project analyzes the legal authority of UN peacekeepers to kill, capture and detain on the basis of Security Council resolutions, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine and the bodies of law that regulate the use of force: the jus ad bellum, international humanitarian law, international human rights law and self-defence and defence of others norms.

My expertise in international criminal law builds on several years of practice in Africa. I employ a mix of doctrinal and social science methods to study the impact of legal institutions in conflict-affected societies. A monograph (Oxford University Press, 2020) based on my PhD examines how international criminal tribunals influence domestic accountability. I use process-tracing and interviews (over two hundred in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and The Hague) to establish causality between international norms and policies and governmental decisions to hold accountable perpetrators of serious crimes. This research challenges conventional wisdom about the effectiveness of international intervention in the aftermath of mass atrocity, and proposes forward-looking strategies to address impunity through the International Criminal Court and beyond.

I continue my research on the history of international criminal law, with a focus on late nineteenth century and early twentieth century doctrinal debates about war crimes and crimes against humanity.

My research seeks to engage with international legal questions from a variety of perspectives, including politics, history, international relations theory, and with the help of innovative research methods.