International Law Research

The Law School is one of the leading centres for research and teaching of international law in the UK.

The history of the study of international law in Bristol

International law has been studied at the University of Bristol for over one hundred years. International Law was first taught in 1895 by Sir Charles M. Kennedy at what was then University College, Bristol. T.J. Lawrence, Sir Francis Vallat, J.J. Fawcett, Eileen Denza and Elizabeth Wilmshurst are all distinguished international lawyers who were members of academic staff at Bristol University. In the latter portion of the 20th century international law developed a maritime focus through the writing and teaching of Clive Symmons; this was reflected in the Law of the Sea being among the first postgraduate units to be offered by the then Faculty of Law in the 1980s. Today, the Law School is home to one of the largest and diverse groups of international lawyers in the UK.

The Law School's current research expertise in international law

The Law School is one of the leading centres for research and teaching of international law in the UK. Our current staff are: Dr Diego Acosta Arcarazo, Dr Eirik Bjorg, Professor Patrick Capps, Professor Malcolm Evans, Sofia Galani, Dr Clair Gammage, Professor Jonathan Hill, Dr Cian MurphyProfessor Tonia Novitz, Professor Rachel Murray, Professor Aurora Plumer, Dr Jane Rooney, Professor Achilles Skordas, and Dr Elina Steinerte. Collectively they offer a wide range of experience in the field of international law. Information about the specific research interests of, and recent publications by, our international lawyers can be viewed from individual staff members' pages.

They also provide advice to institutions such as the UN, OSCE, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Labour Organization, as well as many non-governmental organisations.In 2011, Professor Malcolm Evans, OBE, was appointed as Chair of the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT). Members of staff have also generated substantial research grant income from various funding bodies to examine the workings of international and national organisations.

The teaching and study of international law in Bristol

The focus for teaching is the LLM by Advanced Study in International Law, alongside various units which are offered at undergraduate level. Our LLM offers a very large number of international law units, which reflect the diverse interests of our academic staff. Furthermore, academic staff provide specialised training for organisations like the Ministry of Defence as well as foreign governments.

A large proportion of the Law School’s current research students are undertaking degrees in this area. Our graduates have (amongst other occupations) become government legal advisors, practising international lawyers, have found positions in NGOs or have stayed in academia. The last principal Legal Advisor at the British Foreign Office is a Bristol Graduate.

International law research projects

The   is an AHRC-sponsored research project on the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment.

The   is an AHRC-sponsored research project on the role of non-binding ‘soft-law’ documents in the development of international human rights law.

  is a website created by members of the Law School with the aim of providing a comprehensive site where you can see which UN and regional human rights bodies have undertaken visits to countries since 2003.

The   provides an international focus for developing expertise, advice and scholarship on the role of institutions, whether those are at the national, regional or international levels, in the implementation of human rights.

Other activities in the area of international law

The Law School is also a location (along with the University of Wales, Cardiff) of the Wales and West Branch of the International Law Association, which runs a regular seminar programme: see the ILA seminar programme 2011-12. The School has previously hosted a number of high profile events and members of staff are also often involved in organising events in collaboration with other institutions. It also hosts a bi-annual EC/International Law Forum which has led to the publication of ten edited collections:

  • Evans, Aspects of Statehood and Institutionalism in Contemporary Europe (Dartmouth, 1997),
  • Evans, Remedies in International Law (Hart, 1998),
  • Kilpatrick, Novitz and Skidmore, The Future of Remedies in Europe (Hart, 2000),
  • Capps, Evans and Konstadinidis, Asserting Jurisdiction (Hart, 2003),
  • Tsagourias, Transnational Constitutionalism (CUP, 2007),
  • Boeger, Murray, and Villiers, Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility (Edward Elgar, 2008),
  • Evans and Koutrakos, Beyond the Established Orders (Hart, 2011) and The International Responsibility of the European Union (Hart, 2011),
  • Skordas and Koutrakos, The Law and Practice of Piracy at Sea: European and International Perspectives (Hart, 2014).
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