Personal profile

Research interests

I joined the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), which is the Hague Campus of Erasmus University Rotterdam in February 2007. Among my external academic appointments, I have been affiliated as a visiting scholar with the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand since January 2007, an Editor (since 2013) of the South African Journal on Human Rights (from Feb 2017- Feb 2019 Editor-in-Chief), a visiting research fellow in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University in 2017, a member of the teaching staff for the MSc in Law and Society at Leiden University from 2020-2023 and as a  Fellow and co-ordinator of a Theme Group at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciencies (NIAS) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in the 2020/21 Academic Year.

I studied law in England (1992: LLB, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and 1994: LLM, with Merit, School of Oriental and African Studies, London) and was called to the English bar in 1995. After fifteen years as a legal and human rights practitioner, mainly in South Africa and The Netherlands, in 2009 I obtained a PhD in the sociology of law at Utrecht University with a thesis on Advocating for Accountability: Civic-State Interactions to Protect Refugees in South Africa, which was published by Intersentia (Antwerp).

As a practitioner, was assistant to a British Member of Parliament (on miscarriages of justice), legal advisor for the Dutch Refugee Council, held various functions for the South African organisation Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and from 2000-2007 was director of Rea Hamba Advice, an international legal practice based in The Hague.

As a researcher, since 1999, I have published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters as well as a monograph, edited books and special issues. My  current academic research assesses the potential for legal mobilization to lead to progressive structural change.

In 2005, I received an NWO-WOTRO award to support field research in South Africa from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO). Moreover, I participated in a two-year programme funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a two-year research and capacity-building programme funded by Hivos and a teaching project in Suriname. In a project led by Sanne Taekema the Erasmus School of Law we were awarded a five-year (2015-2020) matching grant from the Erasmus Trust Fonds amounting to a total of 1.8 million euros. In addition to the NIAS-KNAW fellowship (2020-21), I have been awarded several Erasmus+ Mobility and other grants.

In 2021, I formed a Consortium involving numerous universities and societal organizations and co-founded the Legal Mobilization Platform.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Sociology of Law, Utrecht University

Award Date: 4 Sept 2009

Master, Master of Laws, SOAS University of London

Award Date: 1 Nov 1994

Bachelor, Bachelor of Laws, Newcastle University

Award Date: 2 Jul 1992


  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • Legal Sociology
  • JX International law
  • Human Rights
  • Access to Justice


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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