School of Law, Gender and Media & Centre for Human Rights Law

Dr Michelle Staggs Kelsall

Key information

School of Law, Gender and Media Senior Lecturer in International Law School of Law, Gender and Media Deputy Head of Undergraduate Admissions Centre for Human Rights Law Co-Director
BA (Media and Communications), LLB (Macquarie), LLM (LSE), PhD (Nottingham)
Paul Webley Wing (Senate House)
Email address
Telephone number
+44 (0) 207 898 5113
Support hours
Thursdays, 3-5pm (in person or online).


Dr Michelle Staggs Kelsall joined SOAS as a Lecturer in International Law in July 2018.

She holds a combined Bachelors in Media & Communications and Law (with Honours) from Macquarie University (Australia), a Masters in Public International Law (with Distinction) from the LSE and a PhD from the University of Nottingham.

Prior to joining SOAS, Michelle worked for several years as a Human Rights Officer for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as in leadership positions for not-for-profit centres undertaking applied research in Southeast Asia and West Africa (Sierra Leone). This included leading trial monitoring programmes and conducting training for judges and lawyers working at UN-assisted international criminal tribunals in Sierra Leone and Cambodia.

Most recently, she was the Deputy Director of the Human Rights Resource Centre (for ASEAN) where she oversaw all of the Centre’s research, training and outreach initiatives, including leading multi-country human rights studies with teams of researchers across all ten countries in ASEAN.

In keeping with her background, Michelle’s research has a strong empirical focus. She is particularly interested in how international law is understood, interpreted and reconstituted in the Global South, particularly in Asia (Southeast Asia). Her work adopts an interdisciplinary approach and draws on the social sciences and humanities to consider the intersections between public/private, global/local and domestic/international (amongst others).

Michelle’s current thematic focus is on the emergence of Business & Human Rights at the turn of the millennium. This includes considering the intersection between human rights, international corporate governance and corporate social responsibility and the creation of a new market for virtue in human rights legal services. Her doctoral dissertation looks at the emergence of Business & Human Rights at the United Nations, examining and critiquing the historical trajectories which led to its development from the 1970s – present day. 

Michelle is the Co-Founder of ATLAS (Acting Together: Law, Advice, Support) - a women’s legal network with over 6,000 members on all five continents, whose vision is to secure equal representation of women lawyers at all stages of their careers in the field of international law and policy across the globe.

Research interests

  • International Human Rights Law (Business and Human Rights)
  • International Law
  • International Legal Theory

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Pat de Brún Queering Human Rights Law from Below: Rights, Ruptures, and Resistance in Cambodian Queer Politics


Contact Michelle