Current Research

Articles in progress:

Research project on the human rights complaint mechanisms of the United Nations

I have obtained an SNF-postdoctoral fellowship to provide a multi-level empirical and theoretical analysis of the United Nations (UN) human rights complaint mechanisms. The UN established different complaint mechanisms that allow individual citizens to submit complaints about human rights abuses. Such individual-based complaint mechanisms have been established in different institutional contexts within the UN system including the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and the Human Rights Council . Given that the complaints are evaluated by independent human rights experts, said mechanisms might represent a promising alternative to the state-based human rights regime. Despite their potential to remedy deficiencies of state-centric human rights institutions, little empirical evidence exists on the UN human rights complaint mechanisms. Empirical research is required to systematically evaluate these mechanisms and to understand how they affect strategic relationships between repressive states, civil society actors, and international institutions. 1) How equitable is the global participation in the UN human rights complaint mechanisms?  2) When and to what extent do citizen complaints filed to UN human rights bodies shape levels of human rights abuse committed by state actors? 3) When do states retaliate against individual complainants and which factors mitigate the risk of retaliation? Taken together, this research project analyzes UN human rights complaint mechanisms in terms of their state-level (WP2) and individual-level (WP3) effects, and it explains cross-national and individual-level variation in citizens’ propensity of filing complaints (WP1).

Research project on China’s influence on the UN Human Rights Council

In a joint research project with Dr Valentin Lang and Josephine Hebling we investigate the impact of China on the UN Human Rights Council. Over recent decades, China has expanded its geopolitical influence, but whether China’s rise undermines the norms of the liberal international order is debated. We examine China’s impact on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) as a salient international forum for the promotion of human rights. We argue that China has assumed the role of a norm entrepreneur in the HRC, seeking to shape international human rights norms in line with its own views and interests. China aims to promote a development-first approach to human rights and to undermine country-specific human rights shaming. On this behalf, we expect that China employs different instruments of economic, diplomatic, and political statecraft to influence the voting behavior of other HRC members and the content of human rights resolutions. We compiled a novel dataset on HRC voting records, coding each roll-call vote of every member state since the HRC’s inception in 2006 until today along with comprehensive resolution-specific information. Building on a novel model of voting behavior in the HRC, we show that members‘ vote decisions are well-explained by the human rights record of a resolution sponsor. While Western countries tend to support resolutions sponsored by states that respect human rights, China consistently supports resolutions sponsored by the most repressive states. At the same time, states that receive Chinese aid and bailouts gradually align their voting behavior with China in the HRC.

Research project on attitudes towards arms exports in European democracies

In a joint research project at the Institute of Political Science at the University of St. Gallen (HSG), I investigate together with Dr Tobias Risse which factors influence attitudes towards arms exports in European democracies. To this end, we currently conduct survey experiments with members of the German Bundestag, members of the British House of Commons and representative samples of the German and British population. This project is funded by the GreenBox-Grant of the HSG St. Gallen. For more details, check out the following website:

Research project on debates in the UN Human Rights Council

In the Spark-project „Debating Human Rights“ led by Dr. Simon Hug we investigate debates in the UN Human Rights Council in terms of the language used by the state representatives and the emotions and sentiments in their speech delivery. As the debates of this assembly are systematically recorded and available (for this project) as videos, the goal is to develop a pipeline allowing to analyze these debates at least for the period from 2010 to the end of 2023 under the angle of emotional expressions. The pipeline will rely on tools for automated recognition of emotions based on images of speakers to produce time-varying measures of the emotional character of speeches. These measures will be validated by relying on measures of emotions using quantitative text-analysis. This latter analysis will rely on automatically generated transcripts of the debates at the UNHRC. Such an analysis would be all the more important, as a side product on these speech-analysis would be the creation, in an automated fashion, of transcripts of the debates. For more details, check out the following website:

Research project on institutional oversight of police misconduct

I’m a project member in the VINO-project led by Dr Kristine Eck and funded by the European Research Council (Consolidator Grant nr. 101000385). Police abuse occurs throughout the democratic world, presenting a challenge for states committed to exercising coercive force with discretion. One of the ways states address this problem is with police misconduct oversight institutions, which facilitate civilian reporting and state investigation of misconduct. VINO aims to map the different ways these oversight insitutions can be designed, and to explore how these differences impact on citizens’ attitudes and behaviors. The project studies these relationships within OECD democracies using a multi-method approach, including cross-national, statistical analysis, survey experiments, and fieldwork-based case studies. For more details, check out our project website: