Susan Marks

Administrative support: Rachel Yarham
Room: New Academic Building 7.14
Tel. 020-7955-7262

Susan Marks joined the LSE in 2010 as Professor of International Law. She previously taught at King’s College London and, prior to that, at the University of Cambridge, where she was a fellow of Emmanuel College. She was recently a Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School. Her work attempts to bring insights from the radical tradition to the study of international law and human rights.

Research Interests

In previous writings I have addressed themes which include democracy, poverty, torture, counter-terrorism and apology, exploring their character and significance as problems of international law and human rights. My current work is concerned with exploitation and dispossession, and with some general questions to do with the prospects of systematic theory in international law.


International Law on the Left: Re-Examining Marxist Legacies (editor) (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

International Law on the Left - coverThis book brings together essays which consider the contemporary relevance of Marxist thought for the study of international law, along with the history of efforts to analyse international law in Marxist terms.

International Human Rights Lexicon (with Andrew Clapham) (Oxford University Press, 2005)

International Human Rights Lexicon - coverArranged thematically in alphabetical format, this book surveys the significance and limits of international human rights law on topics that range from arms control to work. The book was written with the support of a major grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The Riddle of All Constitutions (Oxford University Press, 2000)

The Riddle of All Constitutions - coverThis book explores the ideas about democracy that inform international legal thought. In doing so, it considers the operation of these ideas as ideology, at the same time offering some general observations about pertinence of ideology critique in the international legal field. A Chinese translation of the book appeared in 2005.

Selected articles
and chapters in books

(with Karen Knop) 'The War against Cliché: Dispatches from the International Legal Front’ in Baetens and Chinkin (eds.) Sovereignty, Statehood and State Responsibility: Essays in Honour of James Crawford (Cambridge 2015)

(with Andrew Lang) 'People with Projects: Writing the Lives of International Lawyers', 27 Temple International and Comparative Law Journal (2014) 437-453

'Backlash: the undeclared war against human rights' European Human Rights Law Review 2014, 4, pp.319-327

Considers the evidence of a "backlash" against human rights by the Government and the media, and analyses the conditions that have given rise to this phenomenon. Discusses how the insights of Nietzsche about resentment apply to the range of emotions invoked by human rights controversies. Assesses how the human rights movement should respond to the resentment of its detractors.

'Four Human Rights Myths' in Kinley, Sadurski, Walton (eds.) Human Rights: Old Problems, New Possibilities (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013)

'Law and the production of superfluity' Transnational Legal Theory (2011) 2(1) pp.1-24

Considers the meaning of "superfluity", and discusses how it has been applied in jurisprudence by: (1) Karl Marx; (2) Hannah Arendt, who examined the concept of superfluous people in her 1951 work "The Origins of Totalitarianism"; (3) Zygmunt Bauman and Loic Wacquant, who have addressed "human waste" and "advanced marginality" in the context of neoliberal restructuring; and (4) theorists addressing the legal status of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. 

'What has become of the emerging right to democratic governance?'  Eur J Int Law (2011) 22 (2): 507-524.

In 1992 the American Journal of International Law published an article by Tom Franck entitled ‘The Emerging Right to Democratic Governance’. The article inaugurated an important debate on the relationship between international law and democracy. Reviewing that debate, I examine four different ways of thinking about the contemporary significance of the emerging right to democratic governance. While not claiming that any is wrong, I consider some respects in which each is limited. I also discuss Haiti, as a country which inspired the thesis of the emerging democratic entitlement, and one which remains illuminating for it today.

'Human rights and root causes'  Modern Law Review 2011, 74(1), 57-78

Traces the move away from merely documenting human rights violations to addressing the causes of such violations. Reviews the concept of "root causes" in the international protection of human rights, with reference to three examples of attempts to analyse why human rights abuses occurred. Proposes the concept of "planned misery" as an alternative explanatory discourse to "root causes".