23 November 2023

Sorcha MacLeod receives €2M grant from the ERC


Dr. Sorcha MacLeod has been awarded a Consolidator Grant of €2 million from the European Research Council for a new project aiming to provide crucial insights on the contemporary nature of mercenaries, and their violations of both human rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Justitia Dollars Hammer

While recent armed conflicts have increased the international focus on the problems arising from the deployment of mercenaries, accountability for the atrocities committed by these private actors is still rare. Therefore, these actors are effectively operating with impunity, as their victims are denied access to justice. In other words, mercenaries operate in an accountability void, and there is little research on how accountability could be ensured for victims of mercenarism.

The new MERCURY project, led by Dr. Sorcha MacLeod, focuses on this accountability void, combining cutting-edge, data-driven mapping and analysis of mercenary operations with thorough legal and qualitative analysis. The mapping will provide a novel understanding of mercenaries to underpin groundbreaking legal analysis of the shortcomings and weaknesses of national and international legal frameworks when it comes to remedies for victims. Through legal and qualitative analysis, MERCURY will evaluate routes to accountability and remedy via international and national human rights courts, tribunals, mechanisms, and transitional justice processes, and propose potential pathways to justice for victims.

PI and grant holder Dr. Sorcha MacLeod is an associate professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Copenhagen, and she is internationally recognized for her expertise on mercenaries and human rights. Together with the MERCURY team, she will offer pioneering scholarly insights into routes to accountability and remedy. The richer understanding derived from MERCURY will help inform stakeholders on how they can better prevent abuses perpetrated by mercenaries, or failing that, ensure accountability and redress for victims. 

ERC Consolidator Grants are a part of the EU’s Horizon Europe Programme, and the grants are given to support excellent scientists and scholars. This particular grant is the first ever ERC Consolidator Grant awarded to the UCPH Faculty of Law. 

Read more about the other ERC recipients here