The Department of Political Science at UCL has developed a strong core of expertise in International Relations (IR). Our research covers each of the major sub-fields of IR, with particular expertise in international security, international political economy, conflict processes, international theory and international law. We engage in high quality research that addresses the key empirical puzzles and normative issues of contemporary international relations, such as civil war and terrorism, global poverty and inequality, non-state actors, globalisation and global governance, and foreign-policy making.
Our research draws from various theoretical and methodological positions to understand these international processes. Our research is also characterised by a strong commitment to interdisciplinarity.
Research Team Expertise and Experience
Dr M. Rodwan Abouharb: (BSc Brunel University, MA University at Buffalo, PhD Binghamton University) directs the MSc in Global Governance and Ethics and teaches Globalisation and Global Governance, International Political Economy, and Civil Conflict. His research examines how domestic economic and political change, international economic integration and the types of international governance regimes, affect the likelihood of civil war, repression, or the promotion of economic development. He examines these issues through statistical analyses.
Dr Kristin M. Bakke: (BA Indiana University, Bloomington, MA University of Washington, Seattle, PhD University of Washington, Seattle) teaches courses on intrastate conflicts, political violence, and international relations in the Department of Political Science and the program in European Social and Political Studies. The questions and topics that motivate her research include why some states are better able to avoid intrastate conflicts than others, how decentralization can (or cannot) promote peace, the dynamics within self-determination movements, and the societal effects of violent conflicts.
Dr Alex Braithwaite: (BA King’s College London, MA Pennsylvania State University, PhD Pennsylvania State University) lectures on directs the School’s MSc in Security Studies. His research interests cluster around the causes and geography of domestic, transnational, and interstate violent political conflict, and the use of statistical and spatial analyses.
Dr David Hudson: (BSocSc, MA, PhD University of Birmingham) lectures and directs the School’s MSc in International Public Policy. His research interests include international relations theory, international political economy, development studies, finance and financing, global poverty and inequality, and the use of social network analysis.
Dr. Basak Cali ( BSc, Ankara, MA, PhD Essex) teaches courses on international law, international human rights regimes and research methods. Her research interests include the relationship between international relations and international law theory, the impact of human rights institutions and norms in international and domestic politics, international courts and tribunals and qualitative research methods in international relations.
These five core members of the team interact with a number of colleagues within the Department whose work also engages with the central debates in international politics.
Current Themes of Research
1. International Peace and Security
Since the end of the Cold War the international security environment has become more complex. A number of issues have been added to traditional concerns in the field such as causes of inter-state war and deterrence. These include international terrorism, cross-border security threats, failed states and internal conflict, consequences for global inequalities, weapons proliferation, and the emergence of new interventionist foreign policy doctrines. We have a strong expertise in international peace and security. M. Rodwan Abouharb publishes on the causes of interstate and civil conflict, with a focus upon how international institutions change the likelihood of civil conflict and repression within states, and co-authored with David Sobek, how respect for human rights domestically changes the likelihood of interstate war. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Politics, Review of International Organizations, World Affairs. Kristin M. Bakke’s research focuses on the conditions under which domestic institutions such as decentralization or federalism can (or cannot) help preserve intrastate peace. Combining a cross-national statistical study of intrastate conflicts with in-depth case studies of self-determination struggles in three federations—Chechnya’s relationship to Moscow, Punjab’s relationship to Delhi, and Québec’s relationship to Ottawa—she examines decentralized states’ diverse capacity to contain the often violent struggles between ethnic minority groups and the states in which they live. In collaborative projects, Dr. Bakke’s research further explores the effects of violent conflicts on inter-ethnic attitudes, as well as how divisions within armed groups affect conflict dynamics between these groups and the governments they are fighting. Her work has appeared in World Politics, Nations and Nationalism, and Regional and Federal Studies. Alex Braithwaite publishes on the causes of interstate war and transnational terrorism, with a specific focus upon the geographic spread of these forms of violent behaviours. His work has been published in Journal of Peace Research, Conflict Management & Peace Science, and International Interactions. Basak Cali`s research focuses on the intersection between law and politics in governing humanitarian interventions. Additionally, the human rights and democratisation programmes contribute to the School’s research on international security. Saladin Meckled-Garcia address issues pertaining to international justice, human rights, and security. Sherrill Stroschein works on ethnic conflict and co-operation.
2. International Political Economy
The interaction of power and wealth has always been fundamental to understanding the organisation of society. International Relations rediscovered the rich tradition of political economy some 40 years ago and is now central to explanations of the evolution and operation of the world economy. Contemporary IPE covers a wide range of topics, from the globalisation of production, finance, trade, and consumption, the role of the international organisations such as the World Bank, IMF and WTO, to governments’ monetary and fiscal policies, as well as problems of global poverty, work, authority, migration, and the environment. M. Rodwan Abouharb publishes on the impact of the International Financial Regime and International Human Rights Regime on human rights repression, rebellion, democratic rights and economic development. His book Human Rights and Structural Adjustment co-authored with David Cingranelli published by Cambridge University Press examines the impact of World Bank and IMF structural adjustment agreements on government respect for a variety of human rights. His research also examines the impact of globalization in novel ways, co-authoring with Ben Fordham, using a sub-national state level comparative approach assessing the varied impact of trade liberalization on strikes within the United States. David Hudson publishes on the governance of global finance in the world economy as well as alternative development sources of finance such as remittances and microfinance. His book on the interaction of finance and development, Global Finance and Development, is forthcoming with Routledge. Plus, he is one of the co-editors of Governing Financial Globalization, which examined the multi-level nature of global financial governance and regulation. David Coen publishes extensively on business and government relations. His research examines the role of firms as political actors, firms’ lobbying practices, as well as regulatory systems and the shaping of public policy.
3. International Relations Theory
Innovative research requires careful scrutiny of existing theoretical frameworks and the development of theoretical novelty. Our research team places great emphasis on cutting across traditional boundaries in international relations and upon the linkages between international relations theory and international and national politics. M. Rodwan Abouharb examines the domestic effects of international regimes in a broad range of areas often described as human security. More specifically how international regimes affect states respect for physical integrity rights, economic and social rights and the likelihood of rebellion. His work stresses that international financial institutions may have strong effects in domestic political areas that are not directly related to their mandate including the repression of human rights. We need to examine the joint effects of international financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF when assessing their impacts in developing countries. In a project on transnational insurgents, Kristin M. Bakke seeks to apply the International Relations literature on transnationalism to civil wars, exploring in particular the ways in which foreign rebels affect domestic self-determination struggles. Alex Braithwaite addresses the evolution of traditional theories of international security as they attempt to accommodate increasingly transnational forms of political violence. He is interested, in particular, in attempts to shed the unnecessarily restrictive distinction between inter-state and intra-state, as relates to violent behaviours. His work on the geography of terrorism and interstate war has, in particular, advocated the joint assessment of these prevalent security threats. David Hudson is interested in critical approaches to the study of IR and has published work examining the nature of the discipline. He is also working on developing studies of the networked nature of international relations.Basak Cali’s research focuses on the nexus between international relations and international law theory and whether, why and with what effects states comply with international law. Her recent book, International Law for International Relations attempts to bring international law into analyses of international relations. Other programmes in the School share this interest in international relations theory. Christine Reh links European integration theories with International Relations Theory and focuses on argumentation and bargaining.
4. Globalisation and Global Governance
As the world globalises, governance increasingly occurs not just within states but at a variety of sites above, beyond and across states as well. International organisations, transnational policy networks, global civil society, non-governmental organisations and private actors are all taking on new governance roles in world politics. M. Rodwan Abouharb’s research examines how international financial institutions are affecting the decisions of national governments in developing countries and how the preferences of the advanced industrialized economies influence the type of economic reforms promoted by these different institutions as well as their human rights, and economic and social outcomes. His current research, co authored with David Cingranelli, examines how the World Bank and IMF policies affect the promotion of economic and social rights and, with Susan Aaronson, how membership in the World Trade Organization affects respect for democratic rights. David Hudson’s research focuses on the governance of the economic sphere; the finance and development regimes in particular. He is the co-editor of Governing Financial Globalization, which examined the multi-level nature of global financial governance and regulation. Alex Braithwaite investigates the ways in which violent non-state actors (terrorists, insurgents, and guerrillas) are motivated by cultural, economic, and military processes of Americanisation. His recent work in Conflict Management & Peace Science represents the beginnings of a research agenda addressing the impact of globalisation upon terrorist attacks against Western powers. Basak Çali’s work on supranational human rights courts investigates why states sign up to supranational human rights courts and why they comply with human rights judgments. Saladin Meckled-Garcia’s work on human rights deals with the normative aspects of a central issue area of globalisation. Meanwhile, David Coen’s research on regulatory regimes and lobbying deals with a further aspect of economic globalisation. Richard Bellamy's research in normative political theory addresses important issues of global governance such as changing forms of citizenship, constitutionalism and democracy within the EU.