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School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Peter Brett, BA (UCL), MSc (SOAS), PhD (SOAS)


Senior Lecturer in International Politics

Telephone: 020 7882 6913
Room Number: ArtsOne, 2.16A
Office Hours: Tuesday 12:30-13:30 and Friday 10:00-11:00 (in person, or email for online appointments)


Peter joined the School in 2015. Previously he was a Teaching Fellow in Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where he did his graduate studies. He has also worked as an Adjunct Professor at Richmond – the American International University in London, and has taught at the University of Paris (Panthéon-Sorbonne). While at Queen Mary he has taught regularly at the University of London in Paris. He is currently the co-convenor (with Dele Kogbe) of the British International Studies Association working group on Africa.

Follow Peter Brett's research on


POL259: The Politics of International Law

POL372: Africa and International Politics

These modules run in SEM A. Peter will be on leave in SEM B 2023-4.


Research Interests:

Peter has a broad range of interests, including the politics of Sub-Saharan Africa, international law, legal sociology, the politics of rights, and the history of international relations. He specialises in Southern and (Francophone) West Africa, but is currently preparing a biographical project investigating the international career of the Irish lawyer and statesman Seán MacBride.

Examples of research funding:

Peter's research into the politics of judicial appointments, with Sara Dezalay, was funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant (2017-9).



(with Line Engbo Gissel) Africa and the Backlash Against International Courts (Zed Books, 2020).

Human Rights and the Judicialisation of African Politics (Routledge, 2018).

Journal articles

"The new politics of judicial appointments in Southern Africa." Law & Social Inquiry. (2022)

"Revolutionary legality and the Burkinabè insurrection" The Journal of Modern African Studies. 59:3 (2021): 273-294. https://doi:10.1017/S0022278X21000136  

'Politics by Other Means in South Africa Today.' Journal of Law and Society. 47 (2020): 126-144. [open access].

"Who are Judicial Decisions Meant For? The ʽGlobal Community of Lawʼ in Southern Africa." International Political Science Review 39:5 (2018): 585-599.

(with Line Engbo Gissel) "Explaining African Participation in International Courts." African Affairs 117:467 (2018): 195–216.

‘Cause lawyers sans frontières: juristes sud-africains et judiciarisation du politique en Afrique australe.’ Politique Africaine 138:2 (2015): 93-113.

‘Explaining South Africa’s Bill of Rights: An Interpretive Approach.’ Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 52:3 (2014): 423-442.

Selected Opinion Pieces

'Lessons from history: Constitution and insurrection in Burkina Faso' The Daily Maverick (December 2019).

'A Global Human Rights Movement?' OpenDemocracy (July 2013).

Selected book reviews and review essays

Convenor and contributor: Book symposium, Adom Getachew: Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination, BISA Africa and International Studies working group (2021).

Tom Ginsburg and Nuno Garoupa, Judicial Reputation: A Comparative Theory, in Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 54:4 (2016).

Karen Alter, The New Terrain of International Law, in E-IR (October 2014).

The New Historiography of Human Rights.’ E-IR (February 2013).

Kathryn Sikkink, The Justice Cascade, in E-IR (June 2012). 



Peter would be interested in supervising PhDs on the politics of rights, international law and courts, legal professionals, and African states in the international system. He would also particularly welcome proposals relating to the domestic politics of South Africa, Namibia or Burkina Faso.

Current PhD Students

Isaac Kimani Wangunyu. “Political Experience, Pre-Parliamentary Careers, Parties’ Selection Procedures and Effects on Legislative Behaviour Among Members of the East African Legislative Assembly.”

Nicolas Anakwue. “The Hashtag Revolution: Examining the Role of Cultural Netizenship in Promoting Political Change in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Meredith Warren. “The advocacy politics of strategic climate change litigation.”

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