Dr Richard Illingworth

Dr Richard Illingworth


I am a post-PhD researcher and Teaching Assistant at the University of Leeds (UK). My PhD was completed in December 2021 at the University of Leeds.

I hold a BA (first-class) in War and Security Studies from the University of Hull, and an MA (distinction) in International Relations from the University of Leeds. My PhD was funded through the University of Leeds Doctoral Scholarship programme. The project was supervised by Professor Adrian Gallagher and Professor Garrett Brown.

Research interests

My research is concerned with halting mass atrocities, with a specific focus on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm. The R2P was near-unanimously adopted by the international community in 2005 at the UN World Summit. Through both prevention and response, the R2P aims to protect populations against four mass atrocity crimes of: genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Yet despite this, mass violence has in-fact dramatically increased since R2P’s inception in 2005 (World Bank, Pathways to Peace, 2018). As was recently highlighted by the UN Secretary-General's 'Call to Action for Human Rights' (2020), 'disregard for human rights is widespread’ with 'egregious and systematic' violations in many parts of the world. What this suggests is that R2P has not led to the curbing of mass atrocity violence in the way proponents would have hoped.

My PhD project seeks to redress this problem by exploring reforms for R2P through the perspective of Transitional Cosmopolitan theory. The project involves an exploration of both reform of the R2P framework itself, in addition to wider structural reforms at the international level. Such reforms are aimed at furthering R2P’s practical implementation through a cosmopolitan approach, focused on the provision of duties, justice, and human protection.



  • BA War and Security Studies (First-Class)
  • MA International Relations (Distinction)
  • PhD Politics and International Relations