Dr Chloe McRae Gilgan

University of York, Security, Conflict and Justice Pathway

I am currently an ESRC WRDTP Post-doctoral Fellow at York Law School (YLS), University of York. I joined YLS and the Centre for Applied Human Rights in 2014 when I commenced my ESRC-funded PhD in law. My PhD thesis examined the UK responses to Syrians fleeing mass atrocities in order 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 of how to implement policies designed to prevent and respond to mass atrocities in practice. 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 while working as an Associate Lecturer in Human Rights at YLS where I developed and convened modules in my research areas of interest and expertise.

This year, I am undertaking the ESRC-funded post-doctoral fellowship entitled Humanitarian Protection in an Age of Asylum, which builds and expands upon my PhD 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. 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.

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.

Research Interests and Expertise: 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 often in the context of conflict, security and transition.