International and European law

International and European law (IEL) is a fast growing area of expertise within the Law School, combining policy and human rights analyses with jurisprudential, critical, postcolonial and feminist theory. Members use a range of methodologies and perspectives including: critical human rights and critical socio-legal frameworks, feminist and subaltern perspectives, empirical research and comparative analyses of regulation across different jurisdictions.

About IEL members

Dr Emma Allen researches the unique challenges presented to the community of Pacific small low-lying islands by climate change. Since November 2018, she has been a member of the International Law Association Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise. This is a group of experts (including many of the key scholars who pioneered the study of the international law implications of sea level rise for small low-lying island communities) that is responsible for formulating proposals for the progressive development of international law in relation to the possible loss of all or parts of state territory and maritime zones due to sea level rise. Through the work and outcomes of the Committee, Emma is also in a position to convey key issues arising from her research to the International Law Commission which, in May 2019, likewise decided to include the topic of ‘Sea Level Rise in Relation to International Law’ on its programme of work. The Committee will exchange with an open-ended study group established by the Commission over the coming years.

Dr Awol Allo’s research interests are in the areas of human rights and social justice broadly conceived and draws on a wide-range of fields including the sociology of law, socio-legal studies, critical social and legal theory, and post-colonial perspectives. Allo uses these intellectual resources as a conceptual apparatus and interpretive instruments to explore the conditions of possibility for progressive change and transformation. Awol has been awarded the prestigious Fung Global Fellows Programme at Princeton University for the 2020-21 academic year.

Dr John Cotter’s research areas are European Union institutional and procedural law, specifically the functioning of the preliminary reference procedure. He is currently writing a monogapgh titled “ Legal Certainty in the Preliminary Reference Procedure: The Contribution of Extra-Legal Steadying Factors” which is to be published by Edward Elgar Publishing in 2021. John comments extensively on developments related to Brexit, and the EU such as: ‘The Last Chance Saloon: Hungarian Representatives may be Excluded from the European Council and the Council’, 19th May 2020, and ‘Why Article 50 TEU is not the solution to the EU’s rule of law crisis’, European Law Blog, 30th April 2020

Dr Mark Eccleston-Turner research specialism is in the field of international law and infectious diseases. Within this, his research interests lie in the field of pandemic influenza preparedness and access to vaccines, and the law of international organizations in the context of global health. He is currently the Distinguished Visiting Professor in Law at Georgetown University School of Law, and was previously an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Dr Eccleston-Turner has also worked as a Consultant to the World Health Organisation on procurement of pandemic vaccines. Mark regularly appears in national and international media to discuss international law and infectious diseases. His interviews have appeared on: Al Jazeera TV, Euronews, BBC News, Sky News, New York Times, Washington Post, South China Morning Post, and The Times.

Dr Elizabeth A. Faulkner's research interests broadly conceived, are in international child law,  and human rights, specialising in human trafficking, slavery, children’s rights, exploitation, and sexual violence. Her interdisciplinary research seeks to address a series of core questions relating to the international legal and policy responses towards children’s rights with particular attention to criminal and criminological connections. The main source of her intellectual curiosity relates to the influence and impact of the colonial era of international rule upon contemporary legal responses to children’s rights, specifically focusing upon the movement, agency and exploitation of children during the 20th and 21st century.  

Professor Tomoya Obokata has been working on issues relating to transnational organsied crime and modern slavery.  He has recently completed a chapter on the linkage between organised crime and terrorism in Northern Ireland and submitted a funding application to examine the impact of COVID-19 on modern slavery.   He has recently been appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery by the UN Human Rights Council and contiues to examine and report on relevant issues.

Dr Mario Prost’s current research focuses on the colonial history of (international) environmental law and critical approaches to transnational arbitration (with special emphasis on investor-state arbitration). In addition to this he works on various aspects of international legal theory. Mario is a former Board member of the European Society of International Law, and a founding member of its interest group on international environmental law.

Dr Forough Ramezankhah’s research involves a holistic approach to international refugee law. Her research investigates the law in its wider context: from the history of colonialism and migration and the politics surrounding refugee status determination to the sociology of collective memories and the psychology of the lived experiences of asylum seekers.
With other colleagues at Keele, Forough has been awarded seedcorn funding from the Keele Institute for Social Inclusion (KISI) to develop a collaborative research team through a one-day symposium entitled "Conflict, Trauma, Memory: Interdisciplinary Approaches".This one-day symposium will highlight the interdisciplinary connections between the research of Keele staff and external scholars in History, Music, SPGS, Law, Nursing, and Psychology, and will lead to subsequent external funding applications.  

IEL’s research culture is sustained through a thriving programme of research events and activities. These include the Keele International Law Lecture Series (past speakers include Judge Morrison of the International Criminal Court and Dr. Proulx of the International Court of Justice), academic workshops and the Patrick Thornberry Annual Lecture in International Law and Human Rights, established in honour of Patrick Thornberry (Keele emeritus professor) and his outstanding contribution to the fields of public international law and human rights.

IEL provides postgraduate education and research training through PhD supervision, the new LLM in International Law, and the MA Human Rights Globalisation and Justice.

The Patrick Thornberry lecture series in International Law and Human Rights is an annual lecture established in 2015 by the Keele Law School and the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy (SPIRE).

The lecture is named in honour of Patrick Thornberry – an alumnus and Emeritus Professor of International Law at Keele – and brings to the University leading academic, thinkers and experts on major current international law and human rights issues.

Patrick Thornberry is a graduate of Keele University, where he currently holds the position of Emeritus Professor of International Law. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s most prominent experts on minority and indigenous rights, having published more than 100 books and papers on race, indigenous rights and minority questions in international law. Until 2015, Professor Thornberry was a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, serving as rapporteur of the Committee from 2002-2008. He has advised a variety of governments, international and European organisations on matters of human rights and minorities. He has also been chairman of Minority Rights Group, the international human rights NGO, and maintains links with a range of NGOs and organisations of indigenous peoples.

Patrick Thornberry has been honoured in the Queen’s 2006 New Year list as a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG), his name having been presented by the Foreign Secretary on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The citation in the list is specifically for services to international human rights.

Past lectures include

  • 2017, Professor Fareda Banda (School of Oriental and African Studies) : 'Gender, Race and Human Rights - From margin to centre with Patrick Thornberry' 
  • 2016, Mark Lattimer (Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International) : 'Two Concepts of Human Rights' 
  • 2015, Professor Dapo Akande (University of Oxford) :‘The Application of Human Rights in Time of Armed Conflict’ 

Previous guest lectures to the IEL group include

  • 2015, Fatou Bensouda, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor, Honorary Speech
  • 2014, Dr Vincent Joël Proulx, International Court of Justice, ‘Transnational Terrorism and State Accountability’,
  • 2013, Judge Howard Morrison, International Criminal Court, ‘International Law – Hopes and Fears’,
  • 2013, Professor Tomoya Obokata, Keele University, ‘International Law on Human Trafficking’,



Public Lectures