Blake Lawrinson

Blake Lawrinson


My academic background is in International Relations, broadly defined. I hold a BA and MA in International Relations from the University of Leeds. As an undergraduate student, I developed a research interest in debates on mass violence and atrocity crimes, which I continued to pursue during my masters. This focus on mass violence and atrocity crimes, in addition to witnessing first-hand the excellent expertise and scholarship on human protection, informed my decision to remain at the University of Leeds to carry out PhD research on the UK’s foreign policy commitment to human protection from mass violence and atrocity crimes. 

Alongside my research, I am responsible for managing website content for the European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (ECR2P) at the University of Leeds. The ECR2P is dedicated to advancing the R2P through research, education, and policy dialogue. I have also been involved in several research projects, which have helped to shape my research interests. This includes research on human protection within the context of the ongoing conflict in Syria. Further information is available via my LinkedIn profile: 

Outside of academia, I have a keen interest in football and support my local club, Bradford City.

Student Education

I have acted as a teaching assistant in the School of Politics and International Studies since 2018 where I have delivered undergraduate classes on International Politics (level 1), Approaches to Analysis (level 2), and the Responsibility to Protect (level 3). For 2020/21, I will teach International Politics (level 1) and British Foreign Policy (level 3). 

My approach to teaching places strong emphasis on critical thinking, analysis and reflection of key ideas, theories, and concepts. I aim to create an inclusive teaching environment with student participation, reflection, and critical thinking at the core of this.

Research interests

My PhD research examines the UK’s commitment to human protection in a transitional foreign policy. A transitional foreign policy is defined according to changes in the UK’s world role, such as the implications of Brexit, its position within key multilateral international organisations (especially the UN), and strategic narratives of Global Britain. Within the context of these dynamics, what is the nature of the UK’s commitment to human protection in both rhetoric and action? What is the relationship between the UK’s changing world role and its commitment to human protection? What have been the key changes and continuities in the UK’s commitment to human protection over time? 

This research aims to address these theoretical and empirical puzzles through examining the UK’s commitment to human protection from 1997-2019, with a particular analytical focus on post-2010 developments. In developing the core theoretical and empirical arguments, the research draws on several human protection crises in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Myanmar, as well as the historical cases of Sierra Leone and Kosovo.  

The research conceptualises human protection as a cluster of interrelated norms and approaches addressing to mass violence and atrocities. This includes (1) the responsibility to protect (R2P); (2) protection of civilians in armed conflict (PoC); (3) atrocity prevention; (4) the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), and United Nations Peacekeeping (UNPK). 

The contributions of this research are: (1) theoretical, through drawing on foreign policy analysis to examine changes in the UK’s commitment to human protection; and (2) empirical, through investigating the UK’s engagement with human protection when faced with multiple challenges and changes in its foreign policy.

My research has been awarded a Leeds Doctoral Scholarship (2017-2020).

Current working papers 

I am presently working on four papers alongside my PhD research. These include: 

(1) Human protection & counterterrorism in Mali 

(2) UN-UK approaches to human protection 

(3) Human protection and the national interest in UK foreign policy

(4) The Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI)

Other research interests  

(1) Human Protection (responsibility to protect, protection of civilians, peacekeeping, preventing sexual violence in conflict)

(2) British Foreign Policy (especially on human protection, humanitarian intervention, trade vs human rights, Global Britain, world role, UN Security Council, national interest)

(3) World order and a transitional world order (especially ‘liberal’ world order)

(4) The UN Security Council (especially on thematic agendas and cases related to human protection: Mali, DRC, Libya, Syria, Myanmar, Yemen)

(5) Foreign policy analysis (especially the sub-field of foreign policy change)

(6) Norms and constructivism 

I am happy to be contacted to discuss any of the above topics, including potential work collaborations and/or projects.

Professional Memberships

British International Studies Association 

European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Research outputs: Conference Papers

Stefan, C.G and Lawrinson, B (2019) ‘Global-National approaches to human protection: an underrecognized link?’ British International Studies Association Annual Conference 2019. London.

Lawrinson, B (2019) ‘One crisis, multiple norms: Analysing norm interaction through the case of MINUSMA’. Responsibility to Protect in Theory and Practice Conference Series. University of Ljubljana.

Lawrinson, B (2018) ‘The relationship between foreign policy change and human protection’ Contesting boundaries. Understanding our increasingly complex world’. University of Nottingham.

Lawrinson, B (2018) ‘Protecting in an era of change: the UK’s commitment to human protection in a transitional foreign policy’ School of Politics and International Studies Postgraduate Research Conference, University of Leeds.

Lawrinson, B (2018) ‘Protecting in times of change: the UK’s engagement with human protection in a transitional global order’. Protecting Human Rights in a Changing and Insecure World Conference, University of Leeds.

Research outputs: Book Reviews

Lawrinson, B (2020) Review: Responsibility to Protect and the Failures of the United Nations Security Council. R2P Student Journal. Available from: 

Lawrinson, B (2017) Review: Fundamentals of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention. Civil Wars. 19(1), pp.108-111. Available from:


  • BA International Relations (First Class) - University of Leeds
  • MA International Relations (Distinction) - University of Leeds

Research groups and institutes

  • European Centre for Responsibility to Protect