My research sits at the intersection of the fields of international relations and international law. Most broadly, it studies the global governance of human rights. One major research thread examines and documents interactions between states, non-state actors, and intergovernmental organizations and their effects on norms, law, and judicial mechanisms. My most recent project examines the potential of cities to localize and actualize international human rights norms and mechanisms.
The Hidden Hands of Justice: NGOs, Human Rights, and International Courts (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
The Hidden Hands of Justice is the first comprehensive analysis of non-governmental organization (NGO) participation at international criminal and human rights courts. Drawing on original data, it maps and explains differences in NGO participatory roles, frequency, and impact at three judicial institutions: The European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Human Rights System, and the International Criminal Court. It demonstrates that courts can strategically choose to enhance their functionality by allowing NGOs to provide needed information, expertise, and services as well as shame states for non-cooperation. Through participation, NGOs can profoundly shape the character of international human rights justice, but in doing so, may consolidate civil society representation and relinquish their roles as external monitors.
The op-ed, “The International Criminal Court was established twenty years ago. Here’s how,” based on the research in this book, was published in The Washington Post, Monkey Cage, in July 2018.
“Localizing Rights Compliance: The Case for Cities as ‘Shadow Reporters’ at International Human Rights Treaty Bodies.” With Isaac Cui (Pomona ’20). Human Rights Quarterly 43 (2021).
“Shadow reports” by non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions are commonplace within the international human rights treaty monitoring process. They became so for a simple reason: shadow reports improve the reporting process by providing useful information. This Article contends that shadow reports from cities would do the same. Using the example of reports sent by the City of Berkeley, California, this Article advocates for institutionalizing city shadow reporting because such reports can provide frontline information and help socialize cities into human rights compliance, even (and perhaps especially) when at odds with their national government.
International human rights law is most efficacious when it is both incorporated into domestic law and translated into local contexts. Yet, cities as independent implementers of unratified international law have received limited scholarly attention. This article examines such renegade municipal localization of international law through an analysis of San Francisco and Los Angeles’s binding ordinances implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – a treaty to which the United States in not a party. The analysis demonstrates that municipal ordinances in US charter cities are robust legal mechanisms that can help actualize human rights in large urban populations, despite national inaction. Nonetheless, municipal localization of unratified international law – in both the content of the ordinances and their implementation over time – is driven predominantly by local context and city politics rather than conformity to the international treaty on which the ordinances are based. While this importantly demonstrates that unratified international law can be made relevant to cities, the insularity of local ordinances can also result in limited accountability for non-implementation and the ordinances evolving apart from international treaty developments.
The op-ed, The US hasn’t signed the world’s foremost women’s rights treaty. Activists have gotten local versions passed instead., based on this research, was published in The Washington Post, Monkey Cage, on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020.
The literature on transnational advocacy focuses on the battle for norm adoption, yet little is known about what happens to advocacy organizations after they succeed. Do they disband, take up another cause, or expand their mission? This article explores the organizational response of mission expansion through a case study of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. The CICC—a prominent global coalition of local and international nongovernmental organizations—was instrumental in advocating for the formation and ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the International Criminal Court. Following the entry into force of the Rome Statute, the CICC did not disband or shift issues, but instead expanded its advocacy efforts and began service provision on behalf of the ICC.
Current theories on international courts, civil society, and global governance overlook the burgeoning relationships between international courts and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). NGO participation at international courts takes many forms, including representing individual petitioners and acting as third parties as well as promoting and supporting the court through outreach, political advocacy, administrative support, and enforcement of judgments. However, substantial variation exists across international courts as to the form and intensity of NGO participation. To explore why different participatory relationships emerge across international courts, this article examines the historical participation of human rights NGOs at the European and Inter-American Human Rights Systems. This analysis departs from NGO mobilization arguments and suggests that variation in NGO participation stems from institutional factors. NGO participation derives from opportunity structures for participation that emerge due to the historical era and initial conditions of court creation and subsequent state financial and political support for the court.
Widespread and systematic rape pervaded both the genocides in Bosnia–Herzegovina in 1992 and in Rwanda in 1994. In response to these conflicts, the Yugoslav Tribunal (ICTY) and the Rwandan Tribunal (ICTR) were created and charged with meting justice for crimes committed, including rape. Nevertheless, the two tribunals differ in their relative success in administering justice for crimes of rape. Addressing rape has been a consistent element of the ICTY prosecution strategy, which resulted in gender-sensitive investigative procedures, higher frequencies of rape indictments, and more successful prosecutions. In contrast, rape has not been a central focus of the ICTR prosecution strategy, which resulted in a sporadic approach to gender-sensitive investigative procedures, inconsistent rape indictments, and few successful prosecutions. What accounts for this disparity in rape prosecutions between the Rwandan and Yugoslav tribunals? Building off the existing literature that discusses factors such as legal instruments and resource capacity of the tribunal, this article argues that transnational advocacy helped generate the necessary political will to adopt and implement legal norms regarding crimes of sexual violence at the ICTY and the ICTR. Following the importance of transnational advocacy as agents of norm change, this paper also explores the antecedent conditions of advocacy mobilization that conditioned different levels of mobilization vis-à-vis the ICTY and the ICTR, including media attention and framing, connections and interest match with local groups, and geopolitical context.
“Judicial Institution Builders: NGOs and International Human Rights Courts” in Charles Anthony Smith, ed. Globalizing Human Rights: Emerging Issues and Approaches (Routledge, 2013). (Reprint of Journal of Human Rights article)
Victor Peskin, International Justice in Rwanda and the Balkans: Virtual Trials and the Struggle for State Cooperation (Cambridge University Press 2008). H-Human Rights. H-Net Reviews. May 2009. http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=24704