My research focuses on the international human rights system, specifically the interaction between International Law, International Organizations, and domestic and regional politics. I am especially interested in international criminal law and transitional justice in Africa and former colonial powers.
My book, State Behavior and the International Criminal Court: Between Resistance and Cooperation, is forthcoming with Routledge in June 2022. In the book, I investigate the political dynamics of cooperation between global, regional, and domestic actors by focusing on international criminal law, asking how and why states parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) cooperate with it. I argue that the widespread ‘African resistance against the ICC’ narrative is incomplete: While the Court has encountered resistance in two high-profile court situations against two sitting heads of states, many African states have continued to support the Court in other Court cases and sometimes behind the scenes. The book thus shows significant within-country and cross- country variation as governments seldom engage in full resistance or cooperation. Rather, they engage in resistance and cooperation at the same time. Second, the book highlights the Court’s reaction to state resistance. The ICC has trodden carefully to not further antagonize recalcitrant governments, issuing non-compliance findings only in egregious cases and adapting its prosecutorial and investigation strategies. Third, the book advances scholarship on the causes of resistance and non-compliance by specifying the conditions under which governments are likely to perceive the Court to present regime costs to them. I show that regime costs are particularly high when the ICC requests the arrest of a state’s leading official(s) or when key foreign allies are concerned.
An article about South Africa’s engagement with the Court and why the country failed to arrest Sudanese President and ICC suspect-at-large Omar al-Bashir in June 2015 has been published in the International Journal of Transitional Justice. A second article on state rhetoric about the ICC has been published in the International Journal of Human Rights.
This research has been supported by a Small Research Grant from the American Political Science Association, the National Science Foundation, the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, the Maxwell African Scholars Union (Syracuse University), and the Roscoe Martin Fund for Research (Syracuse University). The support will and has allowed me to travel to The Hague, South Africa, and Kenya to conduct interviews with ICC officials, NGO, and state representatives.
Two other publications involve other international organizations and memory politics. In a co-authored article (with Audie Klotz, Patricia Goff, and Lindsay Burt), “Cultural Diversity and the Politics of Recognition in International Organizations,” we examine how international organizations have differently responded to and incorporated outside demands for greater cultural diversity.
Apart from these analyses centered on international organization, I am interested in the ways in which former colonial powers engage or deny engagement with their former colonies about colonial atrocities. In 2020, I published “Reactive remembrance: The political struggle over apologies and reparations between Germany and Namibia for the Herero genocide,” in which I analyze Germany’s delayed response to the genocide of the Herero and Nama people in the former German colony of Southwest Africa. This paper investigates the politics of remembrance and guilt in Germany by analyzing German parliamentary records and speeches. An adjacent project investigates how Germany, France, and the United Kingdom have approached apologies and restitution of colonial looted art.