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Chloë Gilgan



Dr Chloë Gilgan
BA (Columbia), JD (New York Law School), PhD (York Law School, Centre for Applied Human Rights), 

ESRC Post-doctoral Research Fellow

I joined York Law School and the Centre for Applied Human Rights in 2014 when I commenced my ESRC-funded PhD in law.  During my PhD studies, I provided legal policy advice to the UK government and to NGOs on matters of humanitarian intervention, R2P and refugee protection.  I completed the PhD in 2019 and am now undertaking an ESRC-funded post-doctoral fellowship entitled Humanitarian Protection in an Age of Asylum in order to: (1) contribute significantly to the academic scholarship by disseminating, through publications and participation at academic conferences, the first in-depth study of how the UK understands its international responsibilities for protecting people from mass atrocities; (2) inform, educate and ultimately impact policymakers and practitioners working in mass atrocity policy on the national and international level; and (3)  identify and apply for research funding for a project that builds on a key theme of the PhD that liberal states cannot be presumed, just by virtue of their democratic label, to adhere to or implement human rights norms, particularly in the context of asylum seekers.

Prior to the PhD, I graduated cum laude with a juris Doctor of Law (JD) from New York Law School and cum laude with a BA degree in Urban Studies and Film from Barnard College, Columbia University.  I was awarded the Professor Lung-Chu Chen Award for Excellence in the Field of Human Rights for four public interest fellowship awards during law school. The fellowships enabled me to provide legal assistance to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, the Crown Prosecution Service in London, the Women’s Rights Project at the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, the New York State Division of Human Rights and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  I was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2009, and then worked at Laura Devine Solicitors, a boutique London law firm handling US and UK immigration.

My current CV and publications are available on my profile at:



  • Conflicts and transition
  • Human Rights
  • International Law
  • Migrants and Refugee Law
  • Public and Constitutional Law
  • Critical race and gender and decolonial/global analyses of any of the above

I am not currently undertaking any PhD supervision since I am on research leave.

My research and expertise are in public international law, particularly in the areas of international human rights, international refugee law, use of force law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law.  My research is interdisciplinary as it often adopts an international relations and foreign policy framework for understanding issues around the practice of global laws and norms.  Additionally, I have research expertise in US/UK comparative constitutional law, with a special interest in free speech.

My PhD thesis examined the UK responses to Syrians fleeing mass atrocities during the current humanitarian crisis and how responsibility has been discussed and defined.  The research aimed to understand how the UK’s commitment to protecting the human rights of people who are forcibly displaced is defined by the relevant government agencies and how those views compare to those of civil society and humanitarian organisations that advocate and practice in the field.  The PhD research sought to uncover and understand the gaps between the theory and the practice of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm, particularly how it interacts with refugee protection, thus contributing to the on-going debate on how to implement policies designed to prevent and respond to mass atrocities in practice.  Empirically, the research involved analysis of official UK government discourse on Syria and Syrian refugees followed by field research involving elite interviews and several informal off-the record conversations within the relevant agencies and organisations tasked with responding to the current humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Through my ongoing association with the European Centre for R2P and through connections with NGO partners, my PhD research has been presented at various government offices, published as Written Evidence by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and will soon be translated into policy briefs for government and NGOs during the post-doctoral fellowship.


Selected publications

  • Gilgan, C., ‘The UK’s Responsibility to Protect: Practice versus Aspiration’, Centre for Applied Human Rights HRD Hub blog, 10 July 2018.
  • Written Evidence from Chloë M Gilgan (RTP0011), Responsibility to protect and humanitarian intervention inquiry – publications, Foreign Affairs Committee, 4 July 2018.
  • Gilgan, C. (2017), 'Exploring the Link Between R2P and Refugee Protection: Arriving at Resettlement', Global Responsibility to Protect Journal 9/4: 366-394.
  • Gilgan, C. (2015), 'A Review of The Responsibility to Protect: A Defense, by Alex J. Bellamy', Global Responsibility to Protect 7/1: 112-114.



  • Human Rights: Law, Power and Global Challenges (module convenor)
  • Human Rights and Wrongs in a Globalised World (module co-convenor)
  • War, Humanitarianism and Law 
  • Public Law I and II
  • Legal Concepts
  • Introduction to Law and Society


  • International Human Rights Laboratory (module convenor)
  • Asylum, Migration and Trafficking Law

External activities


  • Journal of Human Rights Practice, Peer Reviewer
  • European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Women Network
  • Refugee Law Initiative, Research Affiliate and Peer Reviewer for the Working Papers Series
  • New York State Bar (retired status)

Contact details

Dr Chloë Gilgan
York Law School

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 8747