School of Law

Inspiring People

Marko Milanovic

Marko Milanovic

Examining the relationship between the law and human rights


Marko Milanovic is Professor of Public International Law at the School of Law.

Do whatever interests you or what you’re passionate about – don’t feel compelled to become either a solicitor or a barrister.

How would you explain your research?

My area is public international law, which is the body of law that primarily applies to relations between states. I also work in human rights. My PhD was on the extraterritorial application of human rights – the issue of when and how individuals will have rights vis-a-vis a state when the state acts outside its territory. Think drone strikes, the detention of terrorist suspects in Guantanamo, the US/UK occupation of Iraq, or mass electronic surveillance outside a state’s borders.

What inspired you to pursue this area?

I did my first law degree in Serbia, a country with its fair share of war, war crimes and human rights violations more generally. During my undergraduate law degree I started working for an NGO, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, and things went on from there.

How will your research affect the average person?

Not all of my research directly affects the average person, to the extent that international law itself does not do so. On the other hand, my work on the human right to privacy in the digital age – how human rights law should regulate state and non-state interference with that right – is of relevance for anyone with a smartphone.

How does your research influence your teaching?

All the time – my teaching is focused on areas in which I actively research, for example the relationship between the law of armed conflict and human rights. This is also the case with most of my Nottingham colleagues – a student here can expect to learn about the most pressing legal issues of the day.

What's been the greatest moment of your career so far?

I don’t know about the greatest, but one of the most memorable was judging a law of armed conflict moot court final in Israel, which was interrupted midway by a Hamas missile strike.

What's the biggest challenge in your field?

The same it has always been – ensuring that states in fact comply with the legal obligations that they freely accepted.

What advice would you give to someone considering an undergraduate degree in law?

Do whatever interests you or what you’re passionate about – don’t feel compelled to become either a solicitor or a barrister. A law degree opens up many other opportunities as well, such as human rights activism.


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