Department of Political Science


Professor Neil Mitchell

Neil Mitchell

Professor Neil Mitchell

Professor of International Relations

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Neil Mitchell joined UCL in September 2011. He was previously professor of politics at the University of Aberdeen and before that at the University of New Mexico, where he was chair of the department for eight years. His current research interests include business and other non-state actors, conflict and human rights.

The main focus of his current research concerns the application of principal-agent arguments to human rights violations, the role of leadership and accountability. With Professor Sabine Carey at the University of Mannheim, and with support from the ESRC and the Centre for the Study of Civil War, PRIO Oslo, he is building a new global database on pro-government militias (see Pro-Government Militias Research website). His latest book, Democracy’s Blameless Leaders (NYU Press, 2012) asks what can we expect from a political leader in a country like Britain or the United States when its soldiers kill civilians or mistreat prisoners?  After Abu Ghraib or Bloody Sunday what happens next?  The book argues that accountability is a very severe test for political leaders, despite the democratic folk lore of the buck stopping with them. The book provides an analysis of why leaders behave as they do, and what can be done about it.

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Recent publications

  • Risk Mitigation, Regime Security, and Militias: Beyond Coup-proofingInternational Studies Quarterly, 2015, (with Sabine Carey and Mike Colaresi).
  • Governments, informal links to militias, and accountability’ Journal of Conflict Resolution 2015 (with Sabine Carey and Mike Colaresi).
  • ‘The Impact of Pro-Government Militias on Human Rights Violations’ International Interactions Online October 2014 (with Sabine Carey and Christopher Butler)
  • ‘States, the Security Sector, and the Monopoly of Violence” Journal of Peace Research (March 2013) 50: 249-258 (with Sabine Carey and Will Lowe).
  • “Opportunity, Democracy and Political Violence: A Sub-national Analysis of Conflict in Nepal” Journal of Conflict Resolution (February 2006) 50:108-28. (with Alok Bohara, and Mani Nepal).
  • “Comparing Nations and States: Human Rights and Democracy in India” Comparative Political Studies (October 2006) 39 (8):996-1018 (with Caroline Beer).
  • ‘Elite Beliefs, Epistemic Communities and the Atlantic Divide:Scientists’ Nuclear Policy Preferences in the United States and European Union’ British Journal of Political Science (October 2007) 37: 753-64 (with Hank Jenkins-Smith, Kerry Herron, and Guy Whitten).
  • ‘Security Forces and Sexual Violence: A Cross-National Analysis of a Principal-Agent Argument’ Journal of Peace Research (November 2007) 44: 669-87 (with Christopher K. Butler and Tali Gluch).
  • ‘The Good Corporation and the Logic of Transnational Action,’Political Studies (December 2007) 55: 733-53 (with Lynn Bennie and Patrick Bernhagen).
  • “Commitments, Transnational Interests, and Congress: Who Joins the Congressional Human Rights Caucus?” Political Research Quarterly (December 2007) 60:579-92 (with James M. McCormick).
  • “Human Rights Violations, Corruption, and the Policy of Repression” Policy Studies Journal (February 2008) 36:1-18 (with Alok Bohara, Mani Nepal, Nejem Raheem)
  • ‘The Determinants of Direct Corporate Lobbying in the European Union’ European Union Politics (June 2009) 10: 155-176 (with Patrick Bernhagen)
  • ‘The Private Provision of Public Goods: Corporate Commitments and the United Nations Global Compact,’ International Studies Quarterly (December 2010) 54:1175-1187 (with Patrick Bernhagen).
  • “Resisting Machiavelli: Reducing Collective Harm in Conflict” in For the Greater Good of All: Perspectives on Individualism, Society, and Leadership, eds. Donelson R. Forsyth and Crystal L. Hoyt, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

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