Professor Kurt Mills was awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Research Workshop Award in 2020. Benefitting from £10,000 to encourage collaborative investigation into a research proposition at an early stage of its development.

“I have taught and conducted research in international relations and human rights for 25 years. My work focuses on human rights and conflict, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa, as well as broader questions about the role of human rights in foreign policy.”

Professor Kurt Mills

I have been teaching and researching in the area of human rights in international politics and international law for more than 15 years. My research focuses on the politicisation of international law and the implementation of international human rights in governmental policy decisions.

Dr Andrea Birdsall
A man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera
Professor Kurt Mills

Job Title: Professor of International Relations and Human Rights

Collaborators: Andrea Birdsall, Senior Lecturer in International Relations

Institution: University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh

Amount of funding received from the RSE: £10,000

The project will assess the role human rights play in Scotland’s external relations. To do so, the project will develop a baseline to understand the current situation of human rights, what can be learned from other, similar sub-states, and finally, what can and should be done in the future.

Adding value to Scotland

We will use the findings to contribute to the literature on human rights and foreign policy while also contributing to debates in Scotland about the proper role of human rights in its external relations. We hope to understand how best to promote Scotland’s reputation on the global stage via its support for human rights and to draw on our expertise to help inform policymaking in this area.

I always had a passion for justice and human rights and have a desire to understand how international standards that are meant to protect individuals work out in practice. Working in academia is challenging, yet rewarding and has many different aspects to it. In addition to being able to spend time researching international political developments, I am excited about teaching human rights to students from all over the world.

Dr Andrea Birdsall

Advice for future grant recipients

Definitely apply! And use the grant to expand your communities of engagement as much as possible. The award has provided us with a platform for engaging with, and learning from, multiple government and societal actors in Scotland and allowed us to develop our research and gain deeper knowledge by collaborating with civil society and government representatives.

I have an intellectual curiosity about how the political world works and why states and other international actors act the way they do, and a personal commitment to the protection of human rights around the world.

Professor Kurt Mills

What’s next?

We will both look forward to supporting and expanding the study of human rights in Scotland.