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Dr Rebecca Sutton participated in Leiden workshop on 'Behavioural Approaches in International Law'

Wed 18 November 2020

Rebecca Sutton

Dr Rebecca Sutton, Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow of Edinburgh Law School, participated virtually in an academic workshop on 'Behavioural Approaches in International Law'.

The event took place online on Tuesday 17 November 2020 and was the first in a series of planned workshops by Leiden University, organised by Veronika Fikfak (iCourts, University of Copenhagen), Daniel Peat (Leiden Law School) and Eva van der Zee (University of Hamburg).

During the session, Dr Rebecca Sutton was joined by Dr Emily Paddon Rhoads of Swarthmore College to present 'Empathy, Humanitarian Protection and the Application of IHL'. Rebecca also acted as discussant following a piece on 'Toward a Behavioural Approach to Promoting Compliance with IHL' by Prof. Derek Jinks from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

The project

Until recently, international legal scholarship has largely been premised on the assumption of rational action on the part of key actors in international law, whether those actors be states, international organisations, judges, arbitrators, or government officials. However, recent literature in cognate disciplines, such as international relations and political science, integrates insights from behavioural economics and cognitive psychology in order to construct more descriptively accurate models of decision-making, including those decisions that pertain to international law.

This series of workshops at Leiden University and the University of Hamburg aim to build on the nascent literature that aims to integrate empirical insights regarding the bounded rationality of decision- makers from neighbouring disciplines to the analysis of international law. The workshops act as a forum in which international legal scholars whose research adopts a behavioural approach can present their works-in-progress and gain feedback from a broad range of peers, including scholars in economics and cognitive psychology as well as those conducting empirical and experimental research.

This first workshop, of which Dr Rebecca Sutton was involved in, acted as a platform at which scholars could outline the conceptual framework for their project, their methodology, and their preliminary findings. The second workshop is due to be held at the Institute of Law and Economics, Hamburg in April 2021, will give speakers an opportunity to gain feedback on a more developed piece of research, which will form the basis of an article.

Support for these workshops is provided by the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, the Leiden University Fund/Dr. H.A. van Beuningen Fonds ( and by the European Research Council, as part of Dr Veronika Fikfak’s project HRNUDGE.


View Rebecca Sutton's academic profile