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  • PhD: Law; Human Rights

Thesis Title: Facilitating Abolition of the Death Penalty in the US: The Effectiveness of the United Nations' Universal Periodic Review


Thesis Description:

My research is a critique of the effectiveness of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) regarding the United States and capital punishment. The principal aim is to assess the effectiveness of the UPR in calling the US to account in respect of Articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, regarding capital punishment and inhuman and degrading treatment. The study will take a theoretical approach to the deconstruction of the relationship between sovereignty, power and the death penalty. It will examine the extent to which the UPR is effective in facilitating a discourse for abolition of the death penalty in the US.

The research will consider US non-compliance with the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice, for example, the alleged breaches of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relationships 1963 (VCCR)Furthermore, the ramifications of landmark US Supreme Court decisions, such as in Roper v. Simmons and Atkins v. Virginia, will be considered to determine the extent to which US attitudes are consistent with international legal norms.

The UPR process will be analysed to assess how effectively it addresses the alleged instances of US non-compliance with international law, in order to formulate a set of recommendations on how the effectiveness of the human rights mechanisms can be strengthened. This will take a theoretical and critical review of the scholarship in this area, particularly the US national report in response to the UPR, the Stakeholder Reports provided as part of the two US UPR cycles, and the UN member states’ recommendations concerning the US capital system.

Potentially the dissemination of the findings of this research could influence the nature and exercise of the UPR and will contribute to the robust discourse on capital punishment in the US and internationally.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

Professor Jon Yorke (Birmingham City University)

Dr. Sarah Cooper (Birmingham City University)

Dr. Haydn Davies (Birmingham City University)



  • Law with American Legal Studies (LLB Hons) 2008 - 2011
  • International Human Rights LLM (Distinction) 2011 - 2012
  • Legal Practice Course (Pg Dip) (Distinction) 2013 - 2015
  • Midlands3Cities DTP funded PhD Researcher 2015 - present



Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


  • November '16 onwards - Contributing to the CDF event: Journey to Justice US Civil Rights Project.

  • Image result for journey to justice
  • 06/11/16 - Provided Amicus training on the UN & the death penalty to students, academics, solicitors & barristers. 
  • Visiting Lecturer - American Criminal Procedure and Evidence & American Legal Practice Year 3 Modules - Birmingham City University (2016/17) 



  • Contributed to an Amicus Curiae Brief submitted to the US Supreme Court in the case of Miller v. Alabama, in which the Court held that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles was unconstitutional.
  • Internship with The Law Offices of James Kousouros, Criminal Defense Firm, New York City, USA (2010).


Other Research Interests:

  • International and Comparative Human Rights
  • American Criminal Procedure and Evidence