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Dr Dennis R. Schmidt, PhD (Durham University)

(email at

Dennis is a Research Fellow in International Relations at the School of Government and International Affairs. He studied International Relations and Political Science in Bamberg, London and Durham. In 2015, he was a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University.

Dennis’ research revolves around the intersection of ethics, law and politics at the global level, where he is interested in how a globalised, diverse international society creates certain baseline norms, and how values and ethical principles translate into the international legal and political order. These questions are explored in relation to debates about global constitutionalism, the legitimacy and politics of international institutions, and the use of force in international relations.

Dennis’ PhD thesis looked at the concept of normative hierarchy in International Law and developed a socio-legal approach that acknowledges the contested and inherently pluralistic dimension of the global constitutional order. The first output of this research – ‘Peremptory law, global order, and the normative boundaries of a pluralistic world’ – was published in 2016 in International Theory. A second paper on the institutional dynamics of modern international society is currently under review at Review of International Studies. His work on peremptory norms has also been recognised by the ISA’s International Law Section, which awarded him the ‘Best Paper Award’ in 2015.

In 2015, Dennis was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Global and International Studies at George Washington University, where he started working on a project looking at the relationship between international law and the UN Security Council’s expansion of its legislative role and powers. The research is part of a collaborative project on the role of international organisations in the international order, which will result in an edited volume to be published in 2018. 

Dennis is currently working on a series of journal articles that explores how international institutions bestow legitimacy and moral authority on certain actors in specific situations, focusing on armed conflict and peace settlements.

Dennis is an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has taught courses on International Relations Theory and International Organisations, as well as extra-curricular sessions on research design and methodology.

Beyond academia, he has worked as a public relations consultant and as a volunteer for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in West Africa.

Research Interests

  • Ethics of International Relations
  • International Law
  • International Political Theory
  • Politics and Ethics of International Institutions
  • UN System

Indicators of Esteem

  • ISA's International Law Section's Best Paper Award:
  • Nominated for the BISA Michael Nicholson Prize for the best doctoral thesis in international studies :
  • Visiting Scholar: Institute for Global and International Studies at the Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University


Chapter in book

  • Knudsen, Tonny Brems & Navari, Cornelia (Forthcoming). Law, Normative Boundaries and the UN Security Council. In International Organization in the Anarchical Society. Palgrave MacMillian.

Conference Paper

  • Schmidt, Dennis R. & Trenta, Luca (2016), A New Norm of ‘Imminence’? Drone Strikes, Targeted Killings and the Use of Force, ISA Annual Convention. New Orleans, US, New Orleans LA.
  • Schmidt, Dennis R. (2016), Examining Institutional Interdependence in International Society: Normative Boundaries, Peremptory Norms and the UN Security Council, ISA Annual Convention. New Orleans, US, New Orleans LA.
  • Schmidt, Dennis R. (2015), Taming the Global Guardian: Law, Peremptory Norms and the UN Security Council, Academic Council on the UN System Annual Meeting. The Hague, Netherlands, The Hague.
  • Schmidt, Dennis R. (2014), Jus Cogens, Social Structures and Normative Theory: The Potentials of an English School Approach, WISC Global International Studies Conference. Frankfurt, Germany, Frankfurt.
  • Schmidt, Dennis R. (2014), Order, Society and the Construction of Normative Hierarchy in International Relations, ISA Annual Convention. Toronto, Canada, Toronto.
  • Schmidt, Dennis R. (2014), Two Sides of the Same Coin: Reconciling Normative and Analytical IR Theory, ECPR General Conference. Glasgow, UK, Glasgow.

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

Is supervised by

Selected Grants

  • 2017: Durham University Post-Doctoral Publication Bursary for research on the legitimacy of international institutions
  • 2016: ISA Travel Grant
  • 2015: Norman Richardson Grant for research visit at George Washington University
  • 2013: Phd Student Project Scheme Award from Durham University for conference presentations