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Dr. Heidi Matthews LL.M


Freie Universität Berlin

Human Rights Under Pressure - Ethics, Law and Politics

Post Doctoral Fellow

Boltzmannstraße 3
14195 Berlin

Dr. Matthews holds an LL.B.-B.C.L. from the Faculty of Law at McGill University, and a B.A. from Mount Allison University. She served as a Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Global Law and Policy and as a Clark Byse Fellow at Harvard Law School. She also held Fellowships at the Film Study Center, the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Project on Justice, Welfare and Economics at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. Heidi was also a Doctoral Fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and a John Peters Humphrey Fellow of the Canadian Council on International Law. Heidi has served as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and Harvard College, and has worked at the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. 

Heidi Matthews received her doctorate (S.J.D.) from Harvard Law School in 2014. Concerned with the ethical, political theoretical and concrete practical consequences of the legal governance of political violence, Heidi writes at the intersection of criminal law, the law of war, and human rights law. In particular, her work focuses on the role of law in contests over specific forms of political organization prior to, during, and in transition away from armed conflict. Her scholarship aims to make explicit the political stakes of the global legal regulation of war as a necessary precondition for the normative evaluation of international legal institutions.

Dr. Matthews has served as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and Harvard College.

Heidi’s doctoral dissertation, From Aggression to Atrocity: Interrogating the Jus in Bello Turn in International Criminal Law, was awarded the Laylin Prize by Harvard Law School for best paper in international law. As an HR-UP Postdoctoral Fellow, Heidi will revise her dissertation for publication as a manuscript. In it, she critically evaluates the role of the jus ad bellum/jus in bello distinction in the development of international criminal law (ICL) and develops a political theory of contemporary ICL. She argues that ICL has been a key site of a move away from a concern with substantive politics in international law toward a preoccupation with the means by which actors pursue their objectives. Rather than directly addressing the justness of political violence, today international legal discourse deploys atrocity – the violation of the apolitical civilian, woman, or child – as a cipher for the political.

As a Postdoctoral Fellow, Heidi will also pursue two additional research projects. “Redeeming Rape: Berlin 1945 and the Making of Modern International Criminal Law,” investigates how post-Cold War feminist projects to elevate wartime rape up the hierarchy of international crime in contemporary tribunals have mobilized particular historical narratives about the ‘failure’ of the postwar international criminal tribunals to adequately prosecute sexual violence crimes (including Allied crimes).  The second project — “International Criminal Law During the Cold War” — will examine the relationship between Cold War mobilizations of international law and the emergence of ICL as a core contemporary global governance project. 

Dr. Matthews' publications include:

"The Other Side of COIN: A Critique of Contemporary Counterinsurgency Doctrine" (Harvard International Law Journal, forthcoming 2014); and

“Reading the Political: Jurisdiction and Legality at the Lebanon Tribunal,” in Critical Approaches to International Criminal Law: An Introduction (Schwöbel, ed., Routledge 2014). 

Freie Universität Berlin
The Minerva Center for Human Rights
Menschenrechtszentrum Uni Potsdam
DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Einstein Foundation Berlin
Dahlem Research School