SOAS University of London

School of Law

Dr Michelle Staggs Kelsall

BA (Media & Communications), LLB (Macquarie), LLM (LSE), PhD (Nottingham)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Michelle Staggs Kelsall
School of Law

Deputy Head of Undergraduate Admissions

Dr Michelle Staggs Kelsall
Email address:
+44 (0) 207 898 5113
Paul Webley Wing (Senate House)
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Wednesdays 11:00 - 13:00


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 5 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.


Senior Research Fellow, Human Rights Resource Centre (for ASEAN)



International Human Rights Law (Business & Human Rights)

International Law

International Legal Theory



Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2022) 'Between false messiah and symbolic politics: The International Criminal Court and the ‘Situation in the State of Palestine’'. Palestinian Yearbook of International Law, (2022). [Forthcoming]

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2022) 'Disordering International Law'. European Journal of International Law. [Forthcoming]

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2018) 'From a stark utopia to everyday utopias'. German Yearbook of International Law, (60), pp 576-607.

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2009) 'The New ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights: Toothless Tiger or Tentative First Step?'. AsiaPacific Issues, (90), pp 1-8.

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2009) 'Symbolic, shambolic or simply sui generis? Reflections from the Field on Cambodia's Extraordinary Chambers'. Law in Context, (27) 1, pp 154-178.

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs and Stepakoff, Shanee (2007) ''When We Wanted to Talk About Rape': Silencing Sexual Violence at the Special Court for Sierra Leone'. International Journal of Transitional Justice, (1) 3, pp 355-374.

Book Chapters

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2021) '‘Poisonous Flowers on the Dust-heap of a Dying Capitalism’: The United Nations Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations, Contingency and Failure in International Law'. In: Heller, Kevin and Venzke, Ingo, (eds.), Contingency in International Law: On the Possibility of Different Legal Histories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2021) 'One Vision, Three Communities? Reflections on Human Rights in ASEAN’s Community Blueprints'. In: Cohen, David J. and Tan, Kevin Y.L. and Nabahan, Aviva, (eds.), Human Rights and ASEAN: Indonesian and International Perspectives. Singapore: World Scientific, pp 85-98.

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2021) 'Horizontal Embeddedness, Business, and Human Rights: Fostering the Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights within the ASEAN Community'. In: Desierto, Diane A. and Cohen, David J., (eds.), ASEAN Law and Regional Integration: governance and the rule of law in Southeast Asia's single market. Abingdon; New York, NY: Routledge.

Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2019) 'In Search of the Individual in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration'. In: Toniatti, Roberto, (ed.), Constitutional Protection of Minorities: Comparing Concepts, Models and Experiences in Asia and Europe. Brill. [Forthcoming]

Sperfeldt, Christoph and Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2014) 'Not Nudging, Embracing: The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration as a Catalyst for Reinforcing A Rights-Based Approach to Constitutionalism'. Rule of Law and Constitution Building: The Role of Regional Organizations. Stockholm: International IDEA.

Monographs and Working Papers

Thompson, Alison and Staggs, Michelle (2007) The Defence Office at the Special Court for Sierra Leone: A Critical Perspective. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley.

Staggs, Michelle (2006) Second Interim Report On The Special Court For Sierra Leone “Bringing Justice And Ensuring Lasting Peace”: Some Reflections On The Trial Phase At The Special Court For Sierra Leone. Berkeley: U.C. Berkeley.

Kendall, Sara and Staggs, Michelle (2005) Silencing Sexual Violence: Recent Developments in the CDF Case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Berkeley: U.C. Berkeley.


Oette, Lutz and Kelsall, Michelle Staggs (2021) 'Amicus Curiae Submission by the SOAS Centre for Human Rights Law In the Matter of a Request by the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) for an Advisory Opinion on the Guarantees for the Effective Protection of the Right to Participate in Government in Africa, in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Crisis Advisory Opinion No 001/2020'.


This list was last generated on Saturday, 24th September 2022, 23:39 Europe/London.