Professor Sarah Nouwen

Trained in both international law and international relations, Sarah Nouwen works on the intersections of law and politics, war and peace and justice and the rule of law. Building on her experience in diplomacy and peace negotiations, her research focuses on how international law plays out in concrete situations. It combines doctrinal analysis and theory with empirical research and draws on law, politics, and anthropology. 

Her book Complementarity in the Line of Fire: The Catalysing Effect of the International Criminal Court in Uganda and Sudan (Cambridge University Press, 2013) explores whether, how and why the complementarity principle in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has had a catalysing effect on the legal systems of Uganda and Sudan. She spent many months in both countries, interviewing officials, observing proceedings and searching documents to discover whether domestic legal reforms have taken place in response to the Court’s involvement. She also served as a Visiting Professional for an ICC judge.

Her article on the research behind her book, “`As you set out for Ithaka’: Practical, Epistemological, Ethical and Existential Questions About Socio-legal Empirical Research in Conflict“, won the Leiden Journal of International Law Prize for best article published in 2013-2015. The jury praised the work for being “truly interdisciplinary and empirically grounded”. 

Her current research programme “Peacemaking: What’s Law Got to Do with It”, funded by a Philip Leverhulme Prize, an ESRC Future Research Leaders Grant and the Newton Trust, explores the role of international law in peace negotiations.