Lars Waldorf
Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights Law



BA (Harvard College), JD (Harvard Law School)

I am a senior lecturer in international human rights law at the Centre for Applied Human Rights and York Law School. In my first career, I practiced as a civil rights and poverty lawyer in the US for nine years, including five years as a senior trial attorney with the Justice Department (in the Clinton years!). After an interlude as a journalist reporting on genocide trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, I ran Human Rights Watch’s field office in Rwanda in 2002 and 2003. I was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program in 2004.

I previously taught at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (University of London), The New School, and Harvard College. In the past few years, I have worked as a consultant for the International Center for Transitional Justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Front Line Defenders, the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation, and the Austrian Development Agency.

I was the principal organizer of a Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series on Fratricide and Fraternité: Understanding and Repairing Neighbourly Atrocity (PDF  , 205kb).



Lars teaches on Human Rights and Wrongs in a Globalised World in the Autumn term, and he convenes War, Humanitarianism and Law in the Spring term.


Lars teaches on Defending Human Rights and supervises UK placements.

Lars convenes Applying International Human Rights Law in the Autumn term and in the Spring he teaches Truth, Justice and Reparations after Violence.



  • Transitional justice
  • International criminal justice
  • Rule of law and legal empowerment
  • Responsibility to Protect

Applications from prospective research students in these areas are invited.


Mass Justice for Mass Atrocity

This book manuscript examines Rwanda’s community genocide trials (gacaca) within the larger debates over transitional justice and international criminal justice. My fieldwork in Rwanda was supported by the United States Institute of Peace.

Legal Empowerment and Transitional Justice

This research explores how transitional justice mechanisms can promote legal empowerment and how legal empowerment, in turn, can provide more transformative transitions. This new project grows out of a conference that I partly organized for the WUN Transformative Justice Network in 2012. 

Responsibility to Protect

I am currently involved in a White Rose seminar series on "The Responsibility to Protect and Humanity: A Study on the Idea of Human Interconnectedness" and an ESRC White Rose DTC Network PhD Studentship on "Responsibility to Protect and Prosecute: Its Problems and Alternatives." More information about these projects is available at


Current PhD student topics include

  • Responsibility to Protect and Syrian refugees in the UK
  • Rights-based approach to primary education in Nigeria 


Selected publications

Edited publications

Special Issue on "Legal Empowerment in Transitions," International Journal of Human Rights 19:3 (2015)

Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence (University of Wisconsin Press 2011) (with Scott Straus)

Disarming the Past: Transitional Justice and Ex-Combatants (SSRC 2010) (with Pablo De Greiff & Ana Cutter Patel)

Localizing Transitional Justice: Interventions and Priorities after Mass Violence (Stanford University Press 2010) (with Rosalind Shaw & Pierre Hazan)

Book chapters

“Legal Empowerment, Peacebuilding, and Group-Based Inequality” in Rachel Gisselquist, ed., Addressing Group-Based Inequality through Legal Empowerment (forthcoming 2017)

“Legal Empowerment: Between Transition and Transformation” in Paul Gready and Simon Robins, eds., From Transitional to Transformative Justice (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017)

“The Apotheosis of a Warlord: Paul Kagame” in Anders Themnér, ed., Warlord Democrats (London: Zed, 2017)

“Local Transitional Justice: Customary Law, Healing Rituals, and Everyday Justice” in Olivera Simic, ed., Understanding Transitional Justice: A Textbook (London: Routledge, 2016) 

"Legal Empowerment and Liberal-Local Peacebuilding" in Matt Saul & James Sweeney, eds., International Law and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Policy (Routledge 2015)

"Just Peace? Integrating DDR and Transitional Justice" in Chandra Lekha Sriram et al., eds., Transitional Justice as Peacebuilding? (Routledge 2012)

"Introduction: Seeing Like a Post-Conflict State” (co-author) and "Instrumentalizing Genocide: The RPF’s Campaign Against "'Genocide Ideology'" in Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence (University of Wisconsin Press 2011)

"Introduction: Making DDR Truly Accountable" and "Truth-Telling and DDR" in Disarming the Past: Transitional Justice and Ex-Combatants (SSRC 2010)

"Introduction: Localizing Transitional Justice” (co-author) and “‘Like Jews Waiting for Jesus’: Posthumous Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda” in Localizing Transitional JusticeInterventions and Priorities after Mass Violence (Stanford University Press 2010)

"A Justice 'Trickle-Down': Rwanda's First Postgenocide President on Trial" in Ellen L. Lutz & Caitlin Reiger, eds., Prosecuting Heads of State (Cambridge University Press 2009)

"Goats & Graves: Reparations in Rwanda’s Community Courts" in C. Ferstman, M. Goetz & A. Stephens, eds., Reparations for victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 2009)

"Narratives of Suffering from Rwanda’s Community Genocide Trials" in Richard D. Brown & Richard A. Wilson, eds., Humanitarian Responses to Narratives of Inflicted Suffering (Cambridge University Press 2009)

"Censorship and Propaganda in Post-Genocide Rwanda" in Allan Thompson, ed., The Media and the Rwanda Genocide (Pluto Press 2007)

"Rwanda's Failing Experiment in Restorative Justice" in Dennis Sullivan & Larry Tifft, eds., Handbook of Restorative Justice: A Global Perspective (Routledge 2005)


“Inhumanity’s Law: Crimes Against Humanity, RtoP, and South Sudan,” International Politics 53:1 (2016)

“Introduction: Legal Empowerment in Transitions,” International Journal of Human Rights 19:3 (2015)

“Rwanda's Illiberal Peacebuilding” in Special Issue on Rwanda, Africi e Orienti XVI:3 (2015)

"'Getting the Gunpowder Out of Their Heads': The Limits of Rights-Based DDR," Human Rights Quarterly 35:3 (2013)

"White Noise: Hearing the Disaster," Journal of Human Rights Practice 4:3 (2012)

"Anticipating the Past: Transitional Justice and Socio-Economic Wrongs," Social and Legal Studies 21:2 (June 2012)

"The Impunity Gap of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Causes and Consequences,” Hastings International and Comparative Law Review 34:1 (Winter 2011), pp. 49-85

"'A Mere Pretense of Justice': Complementarity, Sham Trials, and Victor's Justice at the Rwanda Tribunal,” Fordham International Law Journal 33:4 (Apr. 2010), pp. 1221-1277

"Alison Des Forges: 1942-2009," Journal of Genocide Research 11:2 (Dec. 2009), pp. 199-203 (with Scott Straus)

"Revisiting Hotel Rwanda: Genocide Ideology, Reconciliation, and Rescuers," Journal of Genocide Research 11:1 (Mar. 2009), pp. 101-125

"Ordinariness and Orders: Explaining Popular Participation in the Rwandan Genocide," Genocide Studies and Prevention 2:3 (Nov. 2007), pp. 267-269

Book review of Linda Melvern's Conspiracy to Murder in African Studies Review 50:1 (Apr. 2007), pp. 45-47

"Mass Justice for Mass Atrocity: Rethinking Local Justice as Transitional Justice,2 Temple Law Review 79:1 (Spring 2006), pp. 1-87


"Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Rwanda," International Center for Transitional Justice (June 2009)

"Rwanda" in Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers: Global Report 2008 (2008), pp. 288-290

Front Line Rwanda: Disappearances, Arrests, Intimidation, and Co-option of Human Rights Defenders, 2001 – 2004 Front Line Defenders (2005)


"Rwanda's Genocide Justice on Trial", Politica Exterior 28(160), July/August 2014

"'Thinking Big': Rwanda's Post-Genocide Politics," e-International Relations (April 2014)

Interview on BBC News Hour about the Rwandan elections (2010)

"Rwanda's Renaissance Goes Off the Rails," Huffington Post, 12 August 2010

"Rwanda: UK-subsidised media repression," Index on Censorship, 12 August 2010

External activities


  • American Institute for Maghrib Studies
  • British International Studies Association
  • International Studies Association
  • Socio-Legal Studies Association 

Editorial duties

  • Associate Editor, The International Journal of Human Rights
  • Editorial Board member, Journal of Human Rights Practice

External examining

  • University of Edinburgh, LLM in Human Rights Law
  • Kingston University, MA in Human Rights 

Lars Waldorf

Contact details

Lars Waldorf
Centre for Applied Human Rights
University of York
6 Innovation Close
Science Park
Heslington, York
YO10 5ZF

Tel: +44 (0)1904 325833

Office hours

On research leave

(Until September 2017)