Commentary and Public Scholarship

"Universal Jurisdiction is Making a Comeback," World Politics Review. 27 July 2021

What is the place of universal jurisdiction in international justice? While often criticized as idealistic or politically infeasible, universal jurisdiction offers an important tool for justice - if its flaws can be addressed. In this piece, I discuss the history of universal jurisdiction and its current place in international justice. I also discuss some of the challenges facing universal jurisdiction and how its supporters may strengthen it into an effective and important tool for international justice.

"Biden reversed Trump's sanctions on International Criminal Court officials. What happens now?," The Washington Post [Monkey Cage]. 5 April 2021 (with Kelebogile Zvobgo)


On April 2nd, the Biden administration lifted Trump-era sanctions on key ICC officials while still voicing concerns over the investigations that triggered sanctions in the first place. We discuss what led to the sanctions as well as what might happen next - in particular, the opportunities for selective engagement between the US and the ICC.


"Justifying Force: The Use of International Law in Foreign Policy Justifications," Public Diplomacy Magazine. 1 Jul 2020


Why do leaders invoke international law when justifying foreign policy decisions, and what does this mean for broader questions of ethics in international relations? Drawing on archival research, I highlight the motives behind international law justifications in two cases, showing that these statements are primarily intended to win foreign support for the policy choice. Importantly, these justifications are motivated by political - not ethical - concerns. Law is employed as a tool and, while it may reflect an ethical commitment by actors it can just as easily be used disingenuously for political gain. At the same time, the fact that decision-makers feel constrained by law - compelled to justify their decisions in light of it - reminds us that international law can have a constraining effect on policymakers. 

"Uruguay and the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance" (3 October 2019) AND "Uruguay Returns to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance." (19 March 2020) with Nicolas Albertoni, in The Global Americans

Why did Uruguay choose to leave - and then return to - the Rio Pact? We discuss these questions, highlighting Uruguay's concerns that the pact would be exploited to justify military intervention against Venezuela. While this is possible, we argue that such concerns are unlikely and we hail Uruguay's decision to return to the pact as the right choice. Ultimately, Uruguay is able to exercise more influence from inside the pact that outside.



I am available for interviews on topics related to international law and foreign policy - in particular questions related to the International Criminal Court (ICC), human rights and the United Nations human rights system and the use of military force and the legal arguments and justifications surrounding it.

"A New Chief Prosecutor, and New Challenges, for the ICC" Trend Lines Podcast, World Politics Review. 3 March.

I joined the Trend Lines Podcast, hosted by the World Politics Review, to discuss the recent election of Karim Khan as the newest ICC Chief Prosecutor, as well as some of the challenges facing the ICC moving forward. 


Podcasts and YouTube

On 27 May 2020, I had the privilege of discussing my research on legal justifications and foreign policy making at the Global History and International Law Seminar. A recording of that discussion is available here: