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School of Law

Externally Funded Projects

Here is a selection of our externally funded research projects. Additional information about our funded research is available via project sites and individual staff pages.

Bilateral Labour Agreements as Migration Governance Instruments

A woman wearing a facemask stood against some forestBilateral Labour Agreements as Migration Governance Instruments: A Gender Analysis of Structures and Outcomes is funded by the UK BEIS via British Academy’s ‘Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling Global Challenges 2020’ funding call. The central purpose of this project is to conduct an investigation of bilateral labour agreements (BLAs), applied to the context of migration corridors in Asia. In light of the feminisation of migration (brought to the fore during Covid-19 pandemic highlighting the fact that many “essential” workers are migrant women) and BLAs being the key mode of facilitating ‘orderly’ labour migration, the aim is to determine to what extent these agreements alleviate or exacerbate gender inequality. This will be done by way of analysing the gendered intent, structures and outcomes of BLAs as tools for migration governance through a detailed study of Sri Lanka.

Professor Nicola Piper is the lead UK Investigator and Professor Kopalapillai Amirthalingam (University of Colombo and director of the Centre for Migration Research and Development) is leading in Sri Lanka. The research team is interdisciplinary and joined by Professor Wasantha Seneviratne, a legal scholar, and Dr Sunethra Perera, a demographer by training.

Brexit and the British Constitution (past and present)

Image of Union Jack flag and EU flag cracked diagonally down the middle

Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott's project investigates the impact of Brexit on the British Constitution and places it in the broader context of significant British acts of union or disunion.

This 3 year project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, places Brexit in the broader context of the historical development of the British Constitution and earlier disputes as to the meaning of statehood, sovereignty and territorial boundaries. Her project investigates the impact of Brexit on the British Constitution, but is also unique in locating Brexit in the broader context of historically significant British acts of union or disunion.

Cloud Computing

Image of a blue cloud in a mainframe

The Cloud Legal Project (CLP) undertakes research in complex areas of law and regulation that are essential to the successful development and use of cloud computing services. CLP was launched in 2009 by members of the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS) at Queen Mary University of London with generous financial support from Microsoft Corporation. The project is led by Christopher Millard, Professor of Privacy and Information Law at Queen Mary.

Since 2014, they have also been collaborating with the Department of Computer Science and Technology at the University of Cambridge as part of the Microsoft Cloud Computing Research Centre.

EU-China Legal and Judicial Cooperation (EUPLANT)

EUPLANT logo in a white background

The Jean Monnet Network ‘EU-China Legal and Judicial Cooperation’ (EUPLANT) investigates the interactions between the Chinese and the European Union (EU) legal and judicial systems and promotes excellence in teaching and research on EU-China legal and judicial cooperation. Through a set of research, policy and outreach activities, EUPLANT creates new avenues for enhanced academic and policy cooperation between the EU and China and engenders a better understanding of each other’s legal systems. The network is coordinated by Dr Matthieu Burnay, Senior Lecturer in Global Law at Queen Mary.

Find out more on the EUPLANT website.

How can the JAC make a difference to judicial diversity?

This British Academy funded project is being undertaken by Professor Kate Malleson together with Graham Gee from Sheffield and Erika Rackley from Kent. It seeks to understand why the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) has had limited success in increasing diversity in the judiciary despite the fact that this was a key rationale for the creation of an independent judicial appointments body in 2006. The main focus to date of work on the JAC has been on the processes by which judges are appointed. This research instead sets out to understand the work of the JAC in a wider context, and in particular to examine what scope exists for the JAC to carve out a role where it is influencing policy change on judicial appointments and diversity.

Despite performing a crucial constitutional function in appointing members of the third branch of government, the JAC is often presented as akin to a specialist recruitment agency, responding to the business needs and policy agenda of the Ministry of Justice and senior judiciary. Our research explores the reasons for this relatively narrow vision of the JAC’s role and its implications for the goal of driving forward the diversity agenda. The project seeks to understand the extent to which scope exists within the current statutory framework and institutional relationships for the JAC to adopt a wider, more ‘constitutional’, conception of its role.

Improving access to equality rights

The Centre for Research on Law, Equality and Diversity is hosting a project aiming to improve workplace equality for people with a disfigurement in the UK. Funded by the VTCT Foundation, the research will be carried out by Research Fellow Dr Hannah Saunders with direction from Professor Kate Malleson, Professor Lizzie Barmes and colleagues in the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. It will also involve working closely with a number of charities in this area. The research has three streams:

  1. Finding out how employers approach issues of disfigurement in the workplace and identifying factors which either help or hinder inclusion and equality. Using these findings, the research will aim to provide increased guidance to employers on how to create appearance-inclusive workplace environments and processes.
  2. Making information about challenging visible difference discrimination more accessible to affected people, their legal advisers and representative organisations.
  3. Seeking to increase awareness of, and engagement with, the topic of visible difference equality at legislative and policy level.

It is hoped that this project will offer real impact in an area of law which has, until recently, remained invisible.

The International State Crime Initiative (ISCI)

Group of Rohingya refugees

Dr Thomas MacManus has taken the lead in academic research into the situation of the Rohingya people in Burma/Bangladesh, and partnered with the Permanent People's Tribunal (Rome, Italy) in order to launch a tribunal on Myanmar’s State Crimes against the Rohingya, Kachin and other Groups at the Law School in March 2017. The Centre was central also in providing evidence to, and working closely with researchers at, the United Nations Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (established March 2017).

Professor Penny Green is leading two ESRC grants; ‘A Comparative Study of Civil Society Resistance to State violence and Corruption’ in Burma, Turkey, Tunisia, Kenya, PNG and Colombia; and ‘Rapid Descent into Genocide?: Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya’with ISCI researchers Thomas MacManus and Alicia de la Cour Venning. Read more on statecrime.org.

(Image via: Hafiz Johari / Shutterstock.com)

The Kachin Independence Army's revolutionary law abidance

'Collaborative rebel-civil society driven governance as resistance to state criminality: The Kachin Independence Army's revolutionary law abidance' is funded by UK Research and Innovation and led by Dr Alicia de la Cour Venning, mentored by Professor Ratna Kapur.

The Kachin Independence Organisation/Army (KIO/A) emerged in 1961 in response to discriminatory policies imposed by Myanmar's authoritarian leaders who perceive minority rights as a threat to its Bamar-Buddhist nationalist ideology. The conflict persists making it one of the longest running civil wars in modern history. Alongside armed violence, a faction of KIO/A leaders perceive the development of parallel state structures as an important component of Kachin resistance. Included within this nascent process of 'rebel governance' are attempts to comply with elements of international humanitarian law (IHL). Most clearly, the prohibition against the military recruitment of persons under the age of 18. This position is counter-intuitive because international norms belong to a system of state-centric regulation constructed to maintain state sovereignty, which for the most part, delegitimises actors violently resisting governmental authority. The project aims then to enhance our understanding of the motivations underpinning rebel decisions to engage with international norms, though the laws of war belong to a broader system of international regulation which, at its foundations, obstructs armed opposition to sovereign power (Mégret 2009, Anghie 2003, Orford 2006).

Find out more about the 'Collaborative rebel-civil society driven governance as resistance to state criminality' project.

Legal and economic conception of money

Series of financial figures on an electronic boardThis Project, administered by Queen Mary University of London Centre for Commericial Law Studies, is funded by the ESRC under the Macro-Economic Finance Hub of 'Rebuilding Macroeconomics,' a large collaborative Project at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

The research group comprised of Principal Investigator Professor Rosa Lastra (Sir John Lubbock Chair in Banking Law, Queen Mary) and Co-Investigators Dr Jason Grant Allen (Senior Fellow, Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society), Dr David Andolfatto (Senior Vice President, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank), Mr Simon Gleeson (Partner, Clifford Chance), Dr Michael Kumhof (Senior Research Advisor, Bank of England), and Professor Saule T. Omarova (Beth & Marc Goldberg Professor of Law, Cornell University).

A joint seminar with the IMF held on 3-4 December 2020 discusses the results of the project. The IMF Working Paper, “Legal Aspects of Central Bank Digital Currency: Central Bank and Monetary Law Considerations”, is the first publication that focuses on the central bank and monetary law aspects of CBDC. It concludes that most central bank laws will require amendments to authorize the issuance of CBDC and questions whether CBDC can be legally labeled as currency. The Working Paper, “Central Bank Money: Liability, Asset, or Equity of the Nation?”, challenges the conventional accounting and economic treatment of central bank money and concludes that it is not a liability of the central bank.

Mind the Gap: Exploring Interplay between Gender, Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Dr Leila Ullrich holds a prestigious British Academy 3-year Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Women have become difficult to ignore in terrorism yet attempts to consider them in counter-terrorism are rare and efforts to integrate a gender perspective even rarer. This project addresses two questions: first, how do terrorist and counter-terrorist institutions conceptualize gender relationships and with what effect on the people they engage? Second, how do women make sense of their role vis-à-vis both terrorist and counter-terrorist institutions? Dr Ullrich explores these issues through a comparative case study of the United Kingdom, Kenya and Lebanon.

This project breaks new grounds by exploring how gender constructs such as ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ as well as non-binary identifications shape terrorism and counter-terrorism. It problematizes the strict separation of terrorism and counterterrorism in the literature by investigating how each feeds off the other’s gender assumptions and how women negotiate their role at their intersection. Employing an interdisciplinary perspective, the project aims to rethink the interplay between gender, terrorism and counter-terrorism through a unique cross-cultural study.

Mind the gap: trade rules and the digital economy

This project is concerned with the impact of technological changes on trade governance. Multilateral trade rules were originally designed to facilitate trade in goods in the 1940s and last updated to cover trade in services in the early 1990s.

New digital technologies are changing the means for trading, the content of trade and the traders themselves. Data localisation measures and internet access restrictions are replacing tariffs and quotas as the new barriers to trade. The aim of the project is to assess the extent to which current trade rules are suitable for securing an open and non-discriminatory, but also safe and trustworthy digital market.

A combination of desk research, qualitative interviews with relevant stakeholders and doctrinal analysis of relevant literature on trade governance, will be used to (a) identify policy measures affecting digital trade; (b) compare rules for digital trade included in recent Trade Agreements; and (c) find international rules and standards other than trade rules relevant for the governance of digital trade.

The project is led by Dr Gabriel Gari and will be undertaken with the support of the UK Department of International Trade, Queen Mary’s CASE partner for this project, giving the researcher access to a wealth of knowledge and practical experience on the negotiation of trade rules for the digital economy.

Neil MacCormick: A Scottish Jurisprudence

Neil MacCormick

Maksymilian Del Mar, Professor of Legal Theory and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London, has been awarded a prestigious 12-month British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. The Fellowship will allow Professor Del Mar to complete a monograph entitled Neil MacCormick: A Scottish Jurisprudence for Stanford University Press.

The project examines the scholarship and political life of one of the twentieth’s century’s most distinguished jurists: Professor Sir Neil MacCormick (1941-2009). Supported also by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, as well as funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the long-standing project has involved examining the relationship between MacCormick’s extensive philosophical oeuvre and his political involvement, both in the Scottish National Party and in the European Parliament.

The project is accompanied by a website.

Non-Human Rights: New Legal Persons In Posthuman Times

A waterfall in a jungle

Dr Alexis Alvarez-Nakagawa’s project seeks to understand the ongoing transformation of the subject of rights in the human rights discourse as a consequence of the recognition of personhood and rights to non-human entities. Considering this development as a phenomenon of unprecedented global dimensions, which attempts to cope with contemporary environmental and technological challenges, it examines the granting of rights to animals, rivers, mountains, rainforests, and synthetic and/or artificial non-human beings in different legal systems around the world. This trend, which emerged in the US and India and gained momentum in 2008 in Latin America, has now expanded globally, and could produce a radical change of paradigm in the legal domain.

This 3-year project, funded by a 2021 British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, employs qualitative research methods combining historical analysis and comparative in-depth case studies. It aims to fill a gap in the scholarship by understanding how the notion of the subject of rights has been currently transformed and might change further in the near future.

PROTECT: The Right to International Protection

'PROTECT The Right to International Protection. A Pendulum between Globalization and Nativization?' is funded by the European Commission under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 framework program. The research project studies the impact of the UN’s Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration on refugees’ right to international protection.

The vision of PROTECT is to discover ways of advancing the international protection system within today’s turbulent political context.

PROTECT consists of 11 partner universities in Europe, Canada, and South Africa.

Professor Elspeth Guild is part of the Steering Committee for this project.

Find out more about the project and their activites on the PROTECT website.

Subcontract for Building Trust in the Digital Economy

Satellite image from ESA Copernicus Sentinel 2 of a coastline

The project focuses on recent rapid developments in IT infrastructure, which are supporting the wider use of cloud technology in a range of Earth Observation (EO) data exploitation projects. However, the future success of cloud-based processing approach to EO data analysis will depend on the ability to ensure the protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) underlying proprietary methods and services built on the platforms’ capabilities.

The project aims to analyse and resolve the outstanding challenges related to IPRs protection in cloud-based EO data exploitation architectures and involves both legal and technical analysis including exploration of innovative concepts on the intersection of copyrights protection and blockchain technology.

The Queen Mary Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS) research team comprises of Dr Noam Shemtov, Reader in IP and Technology Law, Ian Walden, Professor of Information and Communications Law and Head of CCLS, and Dr Michaela McDonald, Teaching Fellow.

(Image courtesy ESA Copernicus Sentinel 2)

Surviving Violence: Everyday Resilience and Gender Justice in Rural-Urban India

Professor Shazia Choudhry and Dr Philippa Williams, (PI; Queen Mary School of Geography), were awarded just over £280,000 by the British Academy for a project (2019-2022) researching domestic violence in India. Despite legal initiatives over the last fifteen years, India has seen little progress in domestic violence, and victims often turn to informal, non-legal strategies and networks in order to cope, build resilience, and seek justice. The project, “Surviving Violence: Everyday Resilience and Gender Justice in Rural-Urban India”, addresses the gap between law, policy, and access to both support services and justice for domestic abuse victims. It seeks to critically examine how victims access legal and non-legal services across a continuum of rural-urban sites, enhancing empirical knowledge and informing evidence-based policy. It adopts a multidisciplinary approach, drawing on expertise from Law, Political Science, Geography, and Anthropology, and employs participatory feminist methodology that emphasises women’s experiences and narratives of domestic violence, as well as their articulations of rights and justice.

The project is expected to advance conceptual knowledge regarding domestic violence while developing feminist-legal methodology. The project is also highly collaborative, drawing on existing civil society-academic partnerships across 3 key states. In addition to the Queen Mary team, the India-UK team involves partners including IIT Mumbai, New Delhi and Swarna Rajagopalan, Chennai.

Ukraine DFID/FCO IP Court Project

St Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv, UkraineThe Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS) received an award from the joint Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) Good Governance Fund (GGF) to deliver a project of technical assistance to support the establishment and operation of the new High IP Court of Ukraine (IP Court). The Project is part of a broader programme of the UK government to implement judicial reform in Ukraine. The Project started on the 1 March 2018 and will run for two and a half years with a total budget in excess of £850,000.

The goal of the Project is to support the creation and operation of a successful and effective IP Court in Ukraine, in order to make a significant contribution to improved levels of business confidence, more attractive investment conditions and a commercial environment that incentivises innovation and creativity, stimulating economic growth and prosperity.

The project is directed by Professor Ioannis Kokkoris, Chair in Law and Economics, and Dr Noam Shemtov, Reader in Intellectual Property and Technology Law at Queen Mary. Maria Tymofienko is Project Manager and Olga Gurgula is the Research Coordinator.

UKRI GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub

Professor Nicola Piper is Co-Investigator on a project led by Coventry University and funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Migration between the countries of the Global South, otherwise known as South-South migration, accounts for nearly half of all international migration, nearly 70% in some places. The potential of South-South migration to contribute to development and delivery of the SDGs is widely acknowledged but remains unrealised, largely due to existing inequalities at the global, national and local levels which determine who is (and is not) able to migrate, where to, and under which terms and conditions. These multidimensional inequalities are associated with a lack of rights for migrants and their families; difficult, expensive and sometimes dangerous journeys; and limited opportunities to access services and protection, which can, in turn, exacerbate inequalities.

Find out more about the GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub.

Understanding Humanitarian Crime & Deviance in Global Chains of Harm Production

ESRC (LISS DTP postdoctoral Fellowship) has funded this project lead by Dr Angela Sherwood (mentored by Professor Neve Gordon).

For several decades now, international humanitarian organisations have been evidenced to commit social harms that reinforce forms of structural violence and inevitably generate egregious human rights violations. Often, these harms occur in the context of humanitarian interactions with states and their agents, but increasingly, they are also motivated by the competitive dynamics of the humanitarian marketplace. While this may be the case, the everyday harms committed by humanitarian actors are often dismissed as singular and unintentional events, and are rarely interrogated from criminological perspectives relating to crime, deviance, and institutional violence.

Drawing upon extensive fieldwork in post-earthquake Haiti, the project examines the responsibilities of state and non-state actors for housing-related harms in Haiti and engages with inter-disciplinary conversations about criminal labelling and non-penal ways of sanctioning state/humanitarian crime. In doing so, the project offers ways of branding deviant organisational acts as criminal. Academic articles, policy briefs, and workshops will be used to disseminate the project’s research findings to academic and non-academic audiences.

Find out more about the Understanding Humanitarian Crime project.

Unpacking the Global Governance of Migration

This four year British Academy Global Professorship investigates the global governance of labour migration and the role of global processes and institutions in pursuit of “decent work” for migrant workers from a multi-actor and multi-sited perspective.

Professor Nicola Piper and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Laura Foley analyses the role, and potential leadership, of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) within global migration governance, given the ILO’s mandate on labour standards and employment conditions. Although the concept of “decent work” emerged in policy circles to address the persistent vulnerabilities of low-skill, low-wage and informal sector workers, its realisation has been a piecemeal process, the ILO’s role in advancing labour rights for migrants has been under threat. In charting two decades of changes (2002-2022) in the character of global governance and the regulation of “decent work” for migrants, this project analyses the ILO’s positioning and navigating of the multi-level, multi-actor nature of the global labour migration governance system.

The central project aim is to investigate how decent work for migrant workers can best be achieved in global migration governance, a field in which institutional actors, at times, stand in competition with each other in the execution of their mandates. Within this field, we lack insight into how actors working on global labour migration governance interact and relate to one another, what exact role the ILO plays in this migration governance architecture, and how the ILO promotes the “decent work” agenda for migrants. This study seeks to close these knowledge gaps and shed light on an organisation which is highly understudied in global governance and migration governance studies.

WiseGrid Project

A row of solar panels sat in a fieldThe WiseGRID project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program. The project provides a set of solutions, technologies and business models which increase the smartness, stability and security of an open, consumer-centric European energy grid and provide cleaner and more affordable energy for European citizens, through an enhanced use of storage technologies and electro-mobility and a highly increased share of Renewable Energy Resources. It aims to deliver the tools and business models that will facilitate the creation of an open market and enable all energy stakeholders to play an active role towards a democratic energy transition.

Professor Rafael Leal-Arcas, Professor of European and International Economic Law, Jean Monnet Chair in EU International Economic Law at Queen Mary, is Principal Investigator on the project.

Rethinking Child Law and Policy

Dr Hedi Viterbo has been awarded a 2-year Leadership Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), for a research project titled ‘Rethinking Child Law and Policy.’

The aim of this project is to radically challenge, and offer alternatives to, the underlying assumptions of contemporary laws and policies concerning children. This research examines the blind spots of these principles and the harm they have done, often with the best of intentions, to people of all ages. This is done by integrating previously separate studies across different disciplines and applying their insights to key cases from international law and four countries: the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia.

This work also draws on insights from Dr Viterbo’s previous research, including his book, Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine (Cambridge University Press, 2021).