School of Law

Sandesh Sivakumaran

Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Social Sciences



Sandesh Sivakumaran is Professor of Public International Law. He is a member of the advisory board of Geneva Call and a member of the working group on non-state armed groups at the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation. He has been a non-resident research scholar at the United States Naval War College Stockton Center for International Law and has held visiting fellowships at Melbourne Law School and New York University School of Law.

Sandesh has published on a variety of topics in public international law. He is the author of The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2012), which was awarded the International Committee of the Red Cross Paul Reuter Prize, the American Society of International Law Francis Lieber Prize, and (jointly) the European Society of International Law Book Prize. He is the co-author of Oppenheim's International Law: United Nations (Oxford University Press, 2017)(with Dame Rosalyn Higgins, Philippa Webb, Dapo Akande and James Sloan), co-author of Cases and Materials on International Law (Sweet and Maxwell, 8 ed, 2015)(with David Harris), and co-editor of International Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 3 ed, 2017)(with Daniel Moeckli and Sangeeta Shah). He has published in leading journals including the European Journal of International Law, the International and Comparative Law Quarterly and the Human Rights Quarterly. His article on the courts of armed groups was awarded the Journal of International Criminal Justice Giorgio La Pira prize and the Antonio Cassese prize. His work has been cited by, among others, the UK, Netherlands, and Israeli Supreme Courts; the International Criminal Court; the International Law Commission; and UN commissions of inquiry.

Sandesh advises and acts as expert for a range of states, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. He has served as international legal advisor to the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, conflict advisor to the Secretariat of the World Humanitarian Summit, and assisted negotiators of two peace processes on matters of international law. He is a member of the Reading Committee of the ICRC's Commentaries on the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols and was a member of the Core Group of Experts for the Oxford Guidance on the Law Relating to Humanitarian Relief Operations in Situations of Armed Conflict. Sandesh regularly trains diplomats, members of the armed forces, and UN entities on international law and the law of war. He is a member of the Bar of the State of New York.

Prior to entering academia, Sandesh's professional experience included: Fellow, previously Research Fellow, at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge; Fellow of the International Bar Association and Associate Legal Officer to Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen at the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda; Law Clerk to Judges Dame Rosalyn Higgins and Peter Tomka at the International Court of Justice; and Intern for former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, at Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative.

Sandesh holds an MA and PhD from the University of Cambridge and an LLM from New York University School of Law where he was a Hauser Global Scholar.

Selected Publications

PhD supervision

I am interested in supervising students who would like to research in the following areas:

  • Public International Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • International Criminal Law

Information about the School of Law PhD programme and how to apply can be found here:

Information about scholarships can be found here:

Current PhD Students:

Recent PhD Students:

  • Mendez, Daniela: Transitional Justice and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Contributions and Challenges from a Latin American Perspective
  • Abrusci, Elena: Convergence and Fragmentation in Human Rights Law
  • Shucksmith, Christy: An Analysis of the Legal and Practical Relationship between UN Operations and NGOs Operating in the Field of Peace and Security, Does the Role of Non-state Actors Challenge the State Paradigm of International Law?
  • Tsai, Pei-Lun: The Application of International Human Rights Law to Unrecognised Entities: The Case of Taiwan
  • Zamani, Masoud: When is the Use of Administrative Detention Justified in the Context of Counter-terrorism Measures?
  • Frisso, Giovanna: The Participation of Victims in International Criminal Trials
  • Kalpouzos, Ioannis: The Applicability of the Jus in Bello to Conflicts Involving Non-state Armed Groups
  • Rachovitsa, Adamantia: Fragmentation or Unity of International Law Revisited: Analyzing the European Convention on Human Rights when the European Court takes Cognizance of Public International Law Norms

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