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Mattia Pinto



PhD (LSE), Single-Cycle Master’s Degree in Law (Bologna, Italy), LLM (KCL), PGCertHE (LSE)


Co-convenor, LLM in International Human Rights Law and Practice

I joined York Law School and the Centre for Applied Human Rights in 2022, having previously taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I also interned at the European Court of Human Rights (Registry) and the International Criminal Court (Office of Public Counsel for the Defence), and I worked as a research assistant at King's College London.

My research interests encompass human rights, criminal law, social-legal theory, international and transnational law, discourse analysis and international political sociology. My doctoral thesis, entitled Human Rights as Sources of Penality and written at the LSE Law School, examines the role that human rights play in fostering and justifying penality. It adopts a socio-legal perspective that gives priority to gives priority to discourse analysis, a method inspired by the work of Michel Foucault. The research draws upon a transnational approach to legal problems and takes human trafficking and torture as its case studies. In this context, it recovers the contemporary and historical assumptions that sustain, and lie behind, the deployment of penal means to protect and promote human rights.



  • Human Rights
  • Criminal law
  • International criminal law
  • International law
  • Transnational law
  • Socio-legal studies
  • Discourse analysis
  • International political sociology

I approach the study of human rights and penality from a social-legal and transnational perspective which investigates the functions and limits of law as a social phenomenon, embedded in historical and socio-political contexts.

My primary area of research focuses on the relationship between human rights and penality. In particular, I am interested in the role that human rights play in both limiting as a ‘shield’ and triggering as a ‘sword’ the state’s penal powers. My doctoral thesis investigates whether, how and why human rights have become triggers of expanded penality. It not only considers changes in legislation and judgments but focuses especially on its legal and political discursive formations. My current research also explores possible alternatives for dealing with human rights violations without turning to penal solutions. It looks, for instance, at methods of accountability for torture beyond the punitive frame and at the relationship between human rights activism and penal abolitionism.


In addition to the above research, I am working on a project with Dr Audrey Alejandro (LSE Methodology) on developing a methodological toolkit for researchers and students on ‘law as/and discourse’.



  • Human Rights: Law, Power & Global Challenges
  • Legal Concepts
  • Legal Skills


  • Applying International Human Rights Law


Selected publications

Peer Reviewed Journals

Discursive alignment of trafficking, rights and crime control’ (2022) International Journal of Law in Context 1-21

Of Sex and War: Carceral Feminism and Its Anti-Carceral Critique’ (2021) 8(2) London Review of International Law 351

Historical Trends of Human Rights Gone Criminal’ (2020) 42(4) Human Rights Quarterly 729 (open access version published in the LSE Law Working Papers)

Awakening the Leviathan through Human Rights Law: How Human Rights Bodies Trigger the Application of Criminal Law’ (2018) 34(2) Utrecht Journal of International and European Law 161

The Denationalisation of Foreign Fighters: How European States Expel Unwanted Citizens’ (2018) 9(1) King’s Student Law Review 67

Book Chapters

‘Human Rights as Penal Drivers Across the World’ in Farmer, Hörnle, Ormerod and Ó Floinn (eds), The Transformation of Criminal Jurisdiction: Extraterritoriality and Enforcement (Hart Publishing, forthcoming).

‘Sowing a “Culture of Conviction”: What Shall Domestic Criminal Justice Systems Reap from Coercive Human Rights?’ in Lavrysen & Mavronicola (eds), Coercive Human Rights: Positive Duties to Mobilise the Criminal Law under the ECHR (Hart Publishing 2020) (open access version published in the LSE Law Working Papers)

Shorter Publications

Beyond Criminalisation: Torture as a Political Category’ (CLT, 1 March 2021)

“Lock Them Up and Throw Away the Key!”: Another Step in the ICC’s Pathway toward Retributivism’ (Opinio Juris, 25 November 2019) – with Diletta Marchesi

Romeo Castaño: “meticulously elaborated interpretations” for the sake of prosecution’ (Strasbourg Observers, 10 September 2019)

The ICC Appeals Chamber invites amici curiae on Jordan appeal in the Al-Bashir immunities case’ (2018) 121 ADC-ICT Newsletter 3

The Bemba Appeal Hearing: Three Issues on Command Responsibility’ (2018) 119 ADC-ICT Newsletter 3

External activities


  • Member of the Law and Society Association
  • Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association
  • Member of DoingIPS
  • Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Theory Forum (LSE)

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Contact details

Mattia Pinto
Centre for Applied Human Rights
University of York
6 Innovation Close
YO26 6QF