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This is an independent site maintained by the academic staff of the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. We use it to showcase our research, writing and commentary, and to provide up-to-date information about our Department.


War Criminal Charles Taylor’s Daughter Defends Her Dad

This week, former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone. His daughter watched the U.N. tribunal in The Hague and spoke to Robtel Neajai Pailey. Charles Taylor only smiled once during the court hearing in the Hague, before he was found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes,…

The U.S. and Iran: A Pathology of Paternalism

With articles in Foreign Affairs brandishing titles such as: “Time to Attack Iran,” and ”What Happens after Israel Attacks Iran,” it is little wonder why many feel that we are being primed for an eventual showdown between the U.S., Israel, and Iran. We must be aware, however, that the script is not a new one,…

Do war crimes trials really help victims?

Editor’s note: Phil Clark is a lecturer in comparative and international politics at SOAS, University of London, and co-founder of Oxford Transitional Justice Research. The long overdue verdict in the case of the former Liberian President Charles Taylor will be widely celebrated as a critical achievement for international criminal law. Taylor has been on trial at the special court for…

What We Talked About At ISA: Researching Sexuality in ‘Difficult’ Contexts

In September 2009, Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati introduced a draft ‘Anti Homosexuality Bill’ that proposed enhancing existing punishments for homosexual conduct in the Ugandan Penal Code, introducing new ‘related offences’ including ‘aiding and abetting’ homosexuality, ‘conspiracy to engage’ in homosexuality, the ‘promotion of homosexuality’, or ‘failure to disclose the offence’ of homosexuality to authorities within 24 hours,…

North Korea’s Lessons for (Not) Building an Atomic Bomb

The Predictable Missile Mishap That No One Predicted Jacques E. C. Hymans JACQUES E. C. HYMANS is Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California. His most recent book is Achieving Nuclear Ambitions: Scientists, Politicians, and Proliferation (Cambridge University Press, 2012), from which this essay is adapted. The dismal failure of North…

Israel: The Knesset vs. Democracy

This is the seventh in an NYRblog series about the fate of democracy in different parts of the world. This should be a year in which Israeli democracy is much on display. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been reconfirmed as head of the right-leaning Likud Party, seems to be pushing for early national elections; while candidates…

State Impunity in Central Africa

Phil Clark has written an op-ed piece for the New York Times titled “State Impunity in Central Africa.” The piece which was published on 1 April 2012, discusses how the international community can address crimes committed by rebel leaders such as Joseph Kony of Uganda or Thomas Lubanga of Democratic Republic of Congo. The article…

COIN vs. CT?

On January 5, amid much pomp and circumstance, President Barack Obama released the newest version of the US Defense Strategic Guidance. The document delineated the future course of US defense strategy, reiterating the commitment of the US to its strategic partners — the oil sheikhdoms — in the Persian Gulf, and shifting its focus to conventional warfare…