PhD Projects – University of Copenhagen

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PhD Projects

Til toppen Post-sovereign violence

With the emergence of the modern state, law has configured violence around subjection to sovereign power. CILCC welcomes research proposals that explore how violence is changing with the transformations or relative eclipse of sovereignty. All approaches, including historical and philosophical, will be entertained.

For more, please contact associate professor Amnon Lev,

Til toppen Global justice reconsidered

Since the end of the Cold War, globalism has been the dominant paradigm in justice theory. This has had important implications for both for how we theorize international law and human rights and for the normative expectations we form in relation to them. The Centre for International Law, Conflict & Crisis welcomes applications for PhD scholarships that critically explore the implication of global justice theory and international law. All approaches are welcome, including historical/genealogical work.

For more, please contact associate professor Amnon Lev,

Til toppen The future Co-Existence of the European Court of Human Rights and the Nation States

The relationship between the Strasbourg Court and (many) Contracting States has for years been strained and the legitimacy of the Court’s case law is increasingly challenged. This raises questions such as: (How) Does the Strasbourg Court respond to this criticism? Does the Court increasingly allow state organs a “margin of appreciation” – generally or perhaps in certain sensitive fields? Has the Court on some points stretched the interpretation of the ECHR beyond acceptable limits? Are there signs that the Court might be retreating in certain areas of law?

For more, please contact professor Jens Elo Rytter,

Til toppen Mass surveillance and the right to privacy

Since the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 many states have dramatically stepped up measures of mass surveillance – i.e. measures allowing the authorities to collect, store and access vast amounts of information concerning how individuals communicate and conduct themselves on the internet. Such information, even in the form of metadata, provides a quite personal profile of the individual. The extent to which such mass surveillance is compatible with the human right to privacy has already been the subject of several rulings from the Strasbourg and Luxembourg Courts as well as from national courts. The tendency of case law so far has been to place significant restrictions on the access to perform mass surveillance in the absence of individual grounds/suspicion. Yet, while certain principles are crystallizing, the state of the law is still far from settled. Other cases are pending. So the question remains: To what extent and on which conditions can mass surveillance be justified as a restriction of privacy necessary to prevent terrorism and other threats to national security/order?

For more, please contact professor Jens Elo Rytter,

Til toppen The Future of Asylum and Non-Refoulement

Current international human rights law provides asylum seekers with an absolute protection against refoulement, i.e. forcible return to a state where they risk being subjected to torture, prosecution etc. While this principle of non-refoulement has become a basic pillar of human rights law it is also becoming clear that the current system creates numerous serious problems – practical, humanitarian and political. Arguably, recent developments begs the question whether the system and the principle can survive ibn its precent form. The topic may be approached from a number of different angels, including: How has the principle of non-refoulement developed in human rights case law? Must the scope of the principle of non-refoulement inevitably expand, or are their ways in which to legally interpret non-refoulement restrictively? Is the moral-philosophical rationale underlying non-refoulement convincing or is it arbitrary in its distinction between those in need who knock on our door and those left behind? Would a system based exclusively on UNHCR refugee camps be in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement and would it be workable? Are there other ways of upholding the principle of non-refoulement, while abolishing the access to apply for asylum in any country?    

For more, please contact professor Jens Elo Rytter,

Til toppen Populism, nationalism and international law

After decades of seemingly ever-expanding international legal cooperation, many Western democracies are now witnessing a rise in nationalism that seem to have paved the way for an increasing hostility towards many international legal commitments and international institutions. The Centre for International Law, Conflict & Crisis (CILCC) welcomes applications on research into the implications for international law of the apparent rise in populism and nationalism. All approaches are welcome, including theoretical and/ or comparative studies.   

For more, please contact associate professor Anders Henriksen,

Til toppen Terrorism-Crime Nexus

Traditionally, academic research on terrorism has tended to focus on ‘big picture’ issues such as ideology, geo-politics, or national security. However, ongoing changes to the organizational and relational nature of terrorist activity have resulted in a much greater emphasis being placed on more localized, cultural and situational factors. Likewise, recent work on the ‘terrorism-crime nexus’, ‘Jihadi Cool’, and other aspects of the underexplored architecture of terrorist culture suggest the global Jihadist project is now spawning new local, subcultural forms. The Centre for International Law, Conflict and Crisis thus welcomes applications for PhD scholarships situated at the interface of criminology, law, and terrorism studies, including research projects on prisoner radicalization and the growth of right-wing terrorism in Europe and elsewhere.

For more, please contact Professor Keith Hayward,

Til toppen Legal Disruption arising from Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are being introduced and embedded into growing areas of human activities, creating the prospect deep disruption to contemporary legal concepts and processes as well as displacing key regulatory principles. This topic is envisaged as a research framework within which horizon-scanning projects can be explored: projects that focus on discrete areas projected to be disrupted by robotics and AI are welcomed, as well as structural and theoretical proposals that seek to address the broader disruptive potential of these technologies to law and regulation.

For more, please contact associate professor Hin-Yan Liu,

Til toppen The future for international disaster law

The IFRC’s IDL-guidelines recently celebrated a 10-year anniversary. While the guidelines have been hugely influential,  a number of new challenges seems to lure in the horizon.  Projects could focus on:

  • We are now at Sendai +2,5: is it possible already now to identify shortcomings in the global framework?
  • As resilience-based disaster response encourage us to rely on local capacity, what kind of issues emerge? Liability for volunteers’ misfeasance? Human rights and the implementation of other frameworks? Does law make sense as a governance tool when the main actors are not states or INGOs (professionals), but local communities?
  • As local and regional legal and organizational capacities are improving across the globe – what is the new role for the international community?
  • Are there any ongoing cross-fertizalition of regional legal mechanisms – or are they developing in isolation?

Contact: Associate Professor Kristian Cedervall Lauta,

Til toppen Kystbeskyttelse (In Danish)

Klimaforandringer, og deraf affødte havvandsstigninger, vil få stor betydning for dansk kystsikring i de kommende år. Vi ved fra andre lande, at kystsikringsprojekter altid giver anledning til sociale og retlige konflikter. Der er således et stigende behov for at få afdækket hvilke typer af juridiske konflikter, der opstår i forbindelse med kystsikring, og hvorledes de bedst løses.

Kontakt: Lektor Kristian Cedervall Lauta,

Til toppen Regulating transboundary freshwater sources

Worldwide, transboundary freshwater sources are increasingly coming under pressure, not least due to climate change. In this regard a major challenge is that the existing international regulation is rather fragmented leaving important questions unregulated. If we do not find broadly accepted ways of governing (i.e. regulating) these transboundary sources, tensions seem unavoidable; and sometimes these tensions may develop into open conflicts. We therefore need to map the existing regulation of transboundary freshwater sources, to identify the most pertinent lacuna and to develop regulation that may duly address these lacunas. We invite applications for PhD projects that address different aspects of this topic.

Contact: Professor Morten Broberg,

Til toppen Using regulation to build societal resilience against climate change manifestations

Climate change generally produces more extreme weather – such as prolonged droughts, more violent storms, rising sea levels, more frequent and more violent floodings etc. In particular in the Global South, these climate change manifestations constitute new and important threats to societies. To meet these threats, the societies seek to become more resilient. Traditionally, societal resilience against climate change has focused upon technical solutions. Increasingly, however, there is recognition that regulation (and governance) also play key roles. We therefore invite applications for PhD projects that set out examine the role played by regulation, and in particular projects that will clarify what regulation works and what does not work in this respect (as well as why this is so).

Contact: Professor Morten Broberg,

Til toppen Legal implications of the climate change adaption obligation

Within the field of climate change, a distinction has traditionally been made between mitigation and adaptation. We invite applications for PhD projects that will analyse the legal implications of the climate change adaptation obligation (as reflected in, amongst others, Article 7 of the Paris Agreement of December 2015). In particular, we are interested in projects that will examine how the implementation of the adaptation obligation can deliver solutions for the world’s most vulnerable countries. The project may focus on the provision as a whole or on specific aspects thereof.

Contact: Professor Morten Broberg,

Til toppen Legal analysis of ‘risk pooling schemes’ aimed at addressing the costs caused by climate change

Increasingly climate change poses a risk to societies, in particular in the Global South. For example, droughts may adversely affect the harvest which in turn may lead to famine. One way of addressing this risk is through finance mechanisms such as risk pooling and risk transfer. Today we find this approach in various parts of the world, including in Africa ( and the Caribbean ( We invite applications for PhD projects that will analyse the legal aspects of using finance mechanisms as one of the means of adapting to climate change – in particular with a view to point to ways of improving the existing schemes and of making the finance mechanism schemes more widely applicable.

Contact: Professor Morten Broberg,