Blake Lawrinson

Blake Lawrinson


My academic background is in International Relations, broadly defined. I completed a BA in International Relations at the University of Leeds where I first developed an interest in debates on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from mass atrocity crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing). I continued to pursue this interest by undertaking an MA in International Relations, also at the University of Leeds. During the MA, I first engaged with ‘human protection’ as a concept which encompasses a range of protection norms, including the R2P, protection of civilians and atrocity prevention. This notion of human protection formed the core focus of my following MA dissertation on the interaction of human protection norms in Mali (2013-2016), which received the 2017 POLIS MA Dissertation Prize. Having witnessed first-hand the excellent expertise and scholarship on human protection during my four years in the School of Politics and International Studies, I decided to remain and pursue a PhD.

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.  

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 most recently delivered undergraduate classes on International Politics (first year) and the Responsibility to Protect (third year). From 2020, I will contribute to an undergraduate module on research methods (second year).

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 thiking at the core of this.

Research interests

My PhD research examines the UK’s commitment to human protection within the context of a transitional foreign policy.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it would appear that the UK is almost uniquely placed to contribute to human protection efforts around the world, whether through pen-holding on UN resolutions, intervening to protect populations, and/or advocating for human protection more broadly. However, the UK remains largely unclear on the role of human protection in its broader foreign policy strategy. Yet, addressing this issue is complex when considering the multiple changes and challenges presently facing UK foreign policy. Encapsulating this is the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit), and the broader rise of the BRICS powers which advocate a pluralist world order based on protecting the sovereign autonomy of states. This research suggests that such changes will have implications for the nature of the UK’s commitment to human protection as it focuses on other core foreign policy issues, such as trade.

The contributions of this research are: (1) theoretical, through exploring the changing foreign policy behaviour of the UK towards 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.

The research conceptualises human protection as consisting of a cluster of different interrelated norms and approaches of the responsibility to protect (R2P), protection of civilians in armed conflict (PoCAC), atrocity prevention (AP), Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), and United Nations Peacekeeping (UNPK). These all share commonality in efforts to protect humans from mass violence and atrocities.

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

Other research interests  

  • Human Protection (Responsibility to Protect, Protection of Civilians)
  • UK Foreign Policy (on human protection)

I am happy to be contacted to discuss UK foreign policy on human protection issues, including in cases such as Syria and Libya. 

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 (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