Barbara Morazzani

Constructing Authority: Does International Law Regulate the Foreign Policy Behaviour of States in Decisions to Use Force in Humanitarian Intervention

Supervisors: David Dunn and Adam Quinn

My research seeks to cross the disciplinary divide between political science and international legal study. With this approach, the research hopes to explain the underlying factors that play a role in the varying degrees of implementation of international law with state strategies and decision-makers through enforcement of the terms of foreign policy as well as gaining a better understanding of the conditions for international law’s effectiveness in an international system complicated by use of force decisions in humanitarian intervention.

The thesis argues that it is necessary to focus on the interaction of the domestic and international levels of the political and strategic factors that lead states to develop decisions to intervene for humanitarian reasons in the framing of foreign policy to determine how international law is politically constructed by decision-makers and becomes relevant within the institutional process of a state’s foreign policy; thus producing a synthesis that is used to regulate the foreign policy behaviour of states within a third state or issue area. To do this a comparative foreign policy analysis approach is used together with neoclassical realism to explain the foreign policy decisions of France and the United States. The case of humanitarian intervention in sub-Saharan Africa in four regional conflicts [ Operation Restore Hope (1992 Somalia), Opération Turquoise (1994 Rwanda), the 1989 civil war in Liberia, and the ongoing conflict in Côte d’Ivoire (2002-current)] is used as a research area to determine the extent to which states interpret international law in the political process of framing foreign policy.  These four regional conflicts are analysed because they capture the tension between the use of force and non-intervention in domestic political decisions.


I joined the POLSIS Department in 2005 as a MA student and began my PhD in 2006 after completing undergraduate studies in the United States in 2002.  Prior to attending the University of Birmingham, I was a litigation paralegal for a defense law firm in Baltimore, Maryland  and did pro bon work for House of Ruth and LWOB; in the summer of 2002 I was a research fellow at the United Nations in Sixth Committee (legal) where I worked on projects and attended conferences on international justice and security; in 2004 a colleague and I founded and co-chaired the Model United Nations Foundation, in affiliation with the University of Maryland which included coordination of the Global Affairs Lecture Series and editor of a monthly newsletter.


  • MA International Studies  (Diplomacy ) (Birmingham, England)
  • BA Political Science / International Studies (Maryland, USA)
  • AA Paralegal Studies (Maryland, USA)

Research interests

  • Relationship between international security and international / national law
  • Comparative foreign and security policies of the transatlantic community
  • Alliance formation
  • Middle East and the Arab-Israel conflict
  • History of diplomacy and war

Professional memberships

  • Transatlantic Studies Association
  • Political Science Association (PSA)
  • International Studies Association (ISA)
  • British International Studies Association (BISA)
  • Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA)

Teaching responsibilities

  • POLS 101 - Foundations of Politics
  • POLS 207 - Institutions and Policies of the EU
  • POLS 206 - Diplomatic History

Conference papers

Morazzani, B. (2011) “Locating the intersection between foreign policy and international legal study: humanitarian intervention as a case study”. PSA Annual Conference, London, England, 18-20 April.

Morazzani, B. (2010) “Forced to Act? International Law, Human Rights Violations and US Security Policy”. BISA US Foreign Policy Working Group, Leeds, England, 13-15 September.

Morazzani,B. (2010) “The Principles of Intervention and Non-Intervention in French Foreign Policy”, PSA Annual Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, 29 March-1 April

Morazzani, B. (2010) “The Principles of Intervention and Non-Intervention in Foreign Policy”, Government and Society Postgraduate Research Colloquium, Birmingham, England, 19 February

Morazzani, B. (2009) “International Law & Foreign Policy”, University of Warwick Interdisciplinary Conference, Coventry, England, 7 March

Morazzani, B. (2009) “International Law & Foreign Policy”, School of Government and Society Postgraduate Research Colloquium, Birmingham, England, 10 February

Morazzani, B. (2008) “Legal Aspects of Humanitarian Intervention”, University College Dublin postgraduate conference, Dublin, Ireland, 20-22 November.

Morazzani, B., (2007) “The Foreign Policy Behaviour of States in Decisions to Use Force in Humanitarian Intervention”, Postgraduate Departmental Colloquium, University of Birmingham, Spring term