Research

In my research, I study the role and use of international law in international relations and foreign policy in a variety of forms and contexts.

In my dissertation, I explored the meaning of compliance in international law - challenging dominant views of compliance as a matter of behavior by highlighting the rhetorical processes at play in creating and contesting legal meaning. In short - compliance is often not about what one does but is about how one justifies it. This raises important questions about the nature of international law, highlighting how rhetorical contests are central to the creation of legal meaning and the limits of understanding compliance as a matter of behavior without accounting for how those behaviors are justified and contested. You may find more information about that project here.

Another strand of my research focuses on how and why actors employ international law arguments. In my article "Justifying Force: International Law, Foreign-Policy Decision-Making, and the Use of Force, I explore the importance of international legal justifications for the use of force. Through archival analysis, I show that foreign policy decisionmakers place considerable value on legal justifications, seeing them as an important tool for justifying a policy to international audiences. Decisionmakers may pursue these justifications even when their legal arguments are tenuous and when pursuing such justifications may begin to undermine their security interests. In another article,"Law and Contestation in International Negotiations," I demonstrate how certain types of legal arguments - those tied to codified legal standards - may be particularly successful in international negotiations. In another project, I ask why actors create legal justifications - who are they intended for - and find that, despite conventional wisdom - these justifications are primarily intended for international, instead of domestic, audiences. You may find more information on my published works here.

In addition to my research on the use of legal rhetoric, I am also interested in questions of international law and human rights more broadly. My article "Social Media and Genocide: The Case for Home State Responsibility" bridges scholarship in international relations and international law to advance an argument about the legal obligations of home states to regulate social media platforms when they are used to incite or coordinate genocide. In other projects, I am studying the role of the ICC in international relations and the importance of legal citations in developing international law. You may find more information on my ongoing projects here.