Emotions and International Law

The central objective of this research project is to open up a new field of study on emotions and international law and thereby to help adapt the field of international law to address today’s complex global problems.
the project

While the study of emotions has a rich history in many disciplines including psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and more recently international relations, international law does not deal with emotions in any sustained manner. Law, including international law, is strongly based on rationalist assumptions. The prevailing idea is that law is based on reason and that emotions should be as much as possible excluded from the making, interpretation, and application of law. In this research project we argue that international lawyers and legal scholars must take account of the role of emotions in their study and work to ensure the continued relevance of the field in addressing real world issues. Acknowledging and exploring the influence of emotions will enable the field of international law to better adapt to the complex global and societal issues it purports to address, including but not limited to terrorism, migration, climate change, food safety, global health, populism, and cyber warfare.

This research project is divided into three phases:

  1. The first phase will delineate the perspective on emotions and the methodological tools that inform the research.
  2. The second and main phase will consist of three case studies. Detailed descriptions of the case studies can be found under the ‘Team’ page.
  3. The third phase will draw on the case studies to argue for the value and practical implications of engaging with emotions in international law.


Meet the researchers that will be working on the project.


Learn more about all activities related to our current research.


Discover all contents that our team has been writing.