PhD Projects

Artificial Intelligence and Legal Disruption

Technological change holds the potential to interrupt, disrupt or distort the ordinary legal order, and this project aims to provide an overarching framework capable of structuring legal responses to the introduction of artificial intelligence into society. Rather than seeing the sectorial impact of AI, for example in changing the nature of transportation with autonomous vehicles, or the nature of warfare through autonomous weapons systems, this project views the fundamental challenges to the very foundations of legal principles and processes introduced by AI in more holistic terms. Such an approach holds the potential to offer common denominator solutions to the vast array of AI challenges to the contemporary legal order, and could offer an analogy for responding to the regulatory problems triggered by other emerging technologies. 

While these concepts and approaches are being developed here to relative maturity, projects that offer different approaches to the regulation or governance of technological change (preferably, but not limited to AI) are most welcome.

For more, contact Associate Professor Hin-Yan Liu.

Attribution and extreme events

At present around a thousand climate change-related litigations run around the globe. Simultaneously, science is making new breakthroughs in our ability to attribute climate change to concrete extreme events. This potentially opens the door to new legal claims and discussions. Research into basic concepts as well as ongoing cases are needed to understand the potential legal implications.

For more, contact Associate Professor Kristian Cedervall Lauta

Climate Change Litigation

In the last years the world have seen a proliferation of climate change litigation, including claims that aim to influence state policy (raising climate ambition or implementing existing climate regulations) and corporate behavior.

CILCC welcomes proposals for PhD projects that explore different aspects of climate change litigation against governments, public bodies, and private actors, as well as the role of climate change litigation in climate change governance. Areas of focus could include the use of human rights in climate change litigation, linkages with science, causation and attribution, claims against carbon majors and the incorporation of climate risk into investment and disclosure practices at corporate level.

A supervisor will be allocated from among the academic staff of CILCC. For further information, please contact: Amnon Lev.  

Designing ecosystems: Managing the environmental release of genetically modified organisms

Recent advances in gene editing have lowered the barriers to access for modifying the genetic make-up of organisms, and also enable those changes to be driven through an entire population of that species in the wild. This amounts to more than just changing the genetic make-up of individual organisms in the lab: rather, such edits have the potential to radically alter entire ecosystems in perpetuity.  

This raises a complex suite of legal, regulatory and governance challenges that has remained underexplored to date. This PhD project aims at addressing these shortfalls in law and policy thinking in the short window before more widespread deployment of such technologies narrow the range of regulatory options. 

Contact: Hin-Yan Liu 

Emerging Technology, Crime and Criminology

Emerging technologies are redrawing the contours of the existing liberal order with profound implications for crime and social control. In particular, fast-developing initiatives such as the ‘smart city paradigm’, algorithmic regulation, and new forms of digital crime prevention (including  autonomous security/police robots, voice-recording listening posts, and wide-area drone surveillance) are reshaping both the physical landscape and the look and feel of our cities. These (often) unchecked and unregulated technological innovations, while often socially-beneficial, also provide new opportunity vectors for criminal exploitation. However, as currently configured, the discipline of criminology, based as it is on models of human behaviour and theories of crime and deviance devised in the mid-twentieth century, is poorly equipped to deal with many of the criminological challenges posed by such new technology. The Centre for International Law, Conflict and Crisis thus welcomes applications for PhD scholarships that will address this shortcoming, and in particular offer new modes of analysis and ways of thinking about the relationship between crime and emerging technology.

For more information, please feel to contact Professor Keith Hayward.

Law and Food Security

We encourage applications for a PhD project in the field of governance and food security in a Global South context. We are particularly interested in projects where the candidate focuses on a country (eg Kenya) or region in the Global South (eg East Africa) in order to identify re­­levant go­ver­nance structures along the supply chains of key staple crops and to examine the construction and enforcement of ap­pli­cable laws and legal practices relating to these governance structures. On the basis of these analyses, the project should set out to clarify what laws and legal practice enhance food security, and why. 

Contact: Morten Broberg 

Law as Ideology

When asked to explain why the law is efficacious in determining social conduct, we usually point to the threat of punishment in case of violation. On this view, it is ultimately fear that motivates fidelity to law. However, this cannot account for the fact that, as we go about the business of being citizens, our actions are, for the most part, not driven by fear. CILCC welcomes proposals for PhD projects that explore the different ways in which law motivates us by enacting basic beliefs about how society should be ordered.

Methodological approaches can be historical or systematic. Interdisciplinary approaches will be favoured.

Contact: Amnon Lev

Mass surveillance and the right to a private life

Is mass surveillance compatible with the human right to respect for private life? The Internet has paved the way for much more intrusive forms of surveillance of communication. The storage of communications recordings or even just communications data in vast amounts makes it possible for authorities to draw an intimate profile of individuals. As an important tool in the fight against crime, terrorism and other threats, surveillance has increasingly become general (mass surveillance) rather than targeted, thus (potentially) affecting every single individual. The storage and use of communications material interferes with the right to respect for private life and communication. Recent years has seen landmark judgments by both the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg and the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg on mass surveillance/interception. While both courts require sufficient guarantees against abuse, they seem to differ as regards the fundamental compatibility of mass surveillance with the right to private life and communication. This project is about a human rights analysis of mass surveillance, with special emphasis on (critical?) analyses of the European landmark cases of recent years, and with a possible comparative outlook to US Supreme Court case law in the field.

For more, contact Professor Jens Elo Rytter

PhD on the Workings of Market Economic Regulation in the Global South; Adoption, Communication, Interpretation and Enforcement.

In the Global South governments have increasingly introduced market economic regulation means national and local state-sanctioned governance aimed at ensuring well-functioning markets. At least three areas of market economic regulation central in this regard: (1) dismantling formal and informal fiscal barriers, (2) aligning product re­quirements, and (3) protecting free and fair competition. However, the notion of ‘market economic regu­la­tion’ may leave a deceptive impression of clarity, whereas in reality it is rather ambiguous. There are nu­­merous ways of drafting such regulation, of disseminating it to authorities and the broader public, of construing the provisions, and of enforcing them. Therefore, we welcome applications for a PhD who wants to understand the history of the ap­­plicable market economic regulation (including also of those provisions that were not adopted); who wants to map how they have been communicated to the different stakeholders – including both public au­­thorities and citizens; who wants to clarify how they are interpreted in different circumstances, and in this respect to compare this interpretation with the drafters’ stated intentions; and who will cla­­ri­fy how they are enforced.

We expect the prospective PhD student to choose one or a few case-countries – and to justify this choice in the project application.

The examinations must take into account both spatial and temporal di­mensions – meaning that the findings are likely to vary both in time and place. For example, it is likely that the market economic regulation is assigned a different role during a crisis (eg a drought), and it is also likely that the regulation plays very different roles in urban and rural settings.

For more, contact prof. Morten Broberg

Special Protection of Children under the ECHR 

The 1950 ECHR hardly even mentions the child. Nevertheless, the case law of the Strasbourg Court has long recognised children as vulnerable individuals and increasingly provides for special protection of children’s human rights. The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has played a significant role in this respect. This project sets out to a) identify and analyse the substance of the special protection of children under the ECHR, and b) explore how the global CRC has impacted the interpretation of the regional ECHR in this field; finally c) to the extent that Strasbourg case law does not entirely converge with the CRC, one must look for the special  characteristics and features of the two systems which may explain this. 

Contact: Jens Elo Rytter

Value-oriented approach to governing AI

The regulation of technological change faces different challenges that undercut its robustness. On the one hand, industry advocates champion a model of responsive regulation where technological development is accorded precedence and regulators are left scrambling to respond in the aftermath of deployment. On the other hand, uncertainty as to the trajectory of technological development hampers attempts to regulate before technological maturation, which is also criticised for stifling innovation. The Collingridge dilemma also plays a practical effect in limiting effective regulation to technological change.

This project suggests that the governance of AI needs to be anchored upon commonly shared core values. Thus, the development and deployment of AI must not negatively impact society, or its developmental trajectory, while attempts should be made to enable individual and societal flourishing through the introduction of these technologies.

For more, contact Associate Professor Hin-Yan Liu.

War and Property in Early Modern Public International Law

Public law revolves around the protection of private property. A wealth of scholarship exists that explores the role that property has played in the development of constitutional law. The importance of property for the development of early modern international law remains, however, little understood, despite the fact that the protection of property is at the heart of the most influential early modern treatise on international law: Hugo Grotius’ De Jure Belli ac Pacis. The questions that would need to be considered include the following: what is the role of property in the Grotian bifurcation of law into public law and public international law? How does property condition his theorisation of war? And what are the most important implications for public law theory of Grotius’ work?

CILCC invites proposals for research that seeks to explore these questions. All methodological approaches are welcome.

For more, contact Associate Professor Amnon Lev