UCL Faculty of Laws

Dr Megan Donaldson

Dr Megan Donaldson

Lecturer in Public International Law

Faculty of Laws


Joined UCL
1st Sep 2019

Research summary

 Megan works in public international law, its history and theory. In collaborative work with Benedict Kingsbury, she has explored governance and law in contemporary international institutions, with a particular focus on transparency in international organizations; public law and constitutional values; and the use of languages of public law in global governance. More recent work examines the development of the international legal order in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is interested in methodological dimensions of the interaction between law and history: how each approaches texts and material evidence; how different kinds of historical scholarship (imperial, global, diplomatic, social, cultural) might engage differently with law; and the possibilities for more fruitful collaboration between these fields in future. 


A study in the history of treaty-making—'The Survival of the Secret Treaty: Publicity, Secrecy and Legality in the International Order'—won the Francis Deák prize (2017) for the leading article by a younger author in the American Journal of International Law. Her article on ‘The League of Nations, Ethiopia, and the Making of States’ was the featured essay in Humanity (Spring 2020). An edited book, History, Politics, Law: Thinking through the International (with Annabel Brett and Martti Koskenniemi) is forthcoming with CUP. 


Megan is now working on a book tracing secrecy and publicity in the international legal order (under contract with OUP). Other future projects include: 

  • chapters on facets on legal thought within the early League of Nations (part of a collaboration with the project Laying the Foundations: The League of Nations and International Law, 1919–1945, based at the University of Copenhagen); on the Sykes–Picot treaty in history and international relations; and on the history of the Ethiopian War Crimes Tribunal; and
  • a new monograph on the conceptualization of peace and peace-making, particularly the faultline between scholarship on imperial governance and literature on peace agreements focused on the interrelation of European powers. 

Teaching summary

Megan convenes International Criminal Law (LLM), and lectures in Public International Law (LLB) and International Humanitarian Law (LLM).

In 2021–22 she will convene a new module on Histories of International Law, with a particular focus on histories of peace and peace-making.


Prior to postgraduate study, Megan worked in corporate litigation, and served as an Associate to Justice Hayne of the High Court of Australia. She holds an LLM (Legal Theory) and a J.S.D. (PhD-equivalent) from New York University School of Law. From 2015–19 she was Junior Research Fellow in the History of International Law at King’s College, Cambridge, and the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law. At Cambridge she was an Affiliate Lecturer of the Faculty of Law, lecturing on the use of force, and in in the history of political thought.