Grant for research on global security and international law

Law Lecturer Dr Gavin Sullivan, together with Dr Alejandro Rodiles Bretón of the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), has been awarded a Newton Mobility Grant by the British Academy of almost £10,000 for a collaborative study on global security governance and international law.

Their project – ‘Global Security Assemblages and International Law: A Socio-Legal Study of Emergency in Motion’ – aims to understand how informal governance institutions created to counter global security threats are redefining the boundaries of international law.

Dr Sullivan (pictured left) said: ‘The post-War international order built to prevent wars between sovereign states is being repurposed by new actors, norms and processes aimed at governing risky cross-border flows and threats by non-state actors. Yet the implications of this shift for how international law is practised, international institutions held accountable and human rights protected remains an open question. These are some of the legal and political problems that our project will be addressing.’

Dr Bretón (pictured right) said: ‘Today, private companies, informal networks and NGOs are shaping global security governance like never before. From controlling the movements of foreign fighters to countering violent extremism online, we see an evolving complex of informal actors being assembled together with states and international organisations to counter new threats. Our project will use empirical, socio-legal methods to understand the effects of these shifts for international law.’

Dr Sullivan and Dr Rodiles Bretón will focus on three examples of informal security governance in action: the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), the UN Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) and the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). Research findings will  be published in a collaboratively authored journal article .The grant will enable bilateral visits and workshops to be held on these issues in Mexico and the UK. It will also build research links between ITAM and the Centre for Critical International Law and the Social Critiques of Law centre at Kent.

Kent Law School Head of School, Professor Toni Williams, said: ‘We are delighted that this project will nurture and consolidate a new institutional relationship between ITAM and Kent Law School. We welcome the opportunity to further enhance the internationalisation and broader global impact of Kent Law School’s socio-legal research.’

Dr Sullivan has research, teaching and advocacy experience in the areas of global security, public law, international law, and human rights. He is currently engaged in three counterterrorism and international security law projects – research for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on foreign terrorist fighters and human rights; a global law clinic assisting individuals targeted by security lists before the UN Security Council; and research for his forthcoming book on the UN Al Qaida sanctions regime and the politics of global security law (The Law of the List), to be published with Cambridge University Press in 2019.  He is also a qualified solicitor and currently acts for three individuals in delisting proceedings before the UN1267 Office of the Ombudsperson.

Dr Rodiles Bretón is Assistant Professor at ITAM. He has research interests in treaty evolution, both through State practice as well as interpretation by national courts, and global security. He has previously worked as a former diplomat at the Mexican Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he was in charge of counter-terrorism, and participated as a delegate to the Counterterrorism and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committees of the Security Council. He has published on UN sanctions, and the Security Council’s working methods.