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. Her article, '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. She is working on a book on ideas and practices of secrecy and publicity in the international legal order, drawing on archives of the League of Nations Secretariat, and of foreign ministries in Britain, France and the United States.

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. 

With Martti Koskenniemi and Annabel Brett, she is editing a volume, 'History, Politics, Law: Thinking through the International', and will contribute a chapter to this collection, 'Ventriloquism in Geneva: The League of Nations as International Institution'. 

Other current projects include:  

* An article, 'The Afterlife of François de Callières: Rewriting the Relation between Diplomacy and Intelligence in the Early Twentieth Century', which examines how diplomatic manuals of the interwar period rehabilitated a certain measure of 'diplomatic secrecy' by distancing this from more clandestine intelligence-gathering and subversion; and

* New work on the conceptualization of peace-making, particularly the faultline between scholarship on imperial governance and a literature on peace-making and peace agreements focused on the interrelations of European powers. 

Teaching summary

At UCL she convenes International Criminal Law (LLM), and lectures in Public International Law (LLB) and International Humanitarian Law (LLM).


Prior to postgraduate study, Megan worked in corporate litigation, and served as an Associate to Justice Hayne of the High Court of Australia. 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 (2016), and in in the history of political thought.