Ms Michelle Hughes

Ms Michelle Hughes

PhD student in Law

Department of Law

Key Expertise
Rule of law development, institutional reform, human rights

About me

Thesis title

'The Judicialization of Conflict and the Art of War: Can Human Rights Endure, or Does the Strongman Always Win?' [provisional title]


Dr. Devika Hovell and Professor Conor Gearty

Research Interests

comparative constitutionalism and human rights; public international law; international humanitarian law; international criminal law, peace and conflict; cultural heritage protection

Michelle Hughes is an experienced human rights practitioner and current doctoral student in the LSE Law Department. She is the recipient of an LSE Ph.D. Studentship. Her research explores the intersection between human rights and the art of war.

For more than 40 years, Michelle has worked on the ground to advance justice, security, and governance in post-conflict countries, fragile states, and states in transition. She is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of VALRAC Innovation, LLC, a company dedicated to preparing the next generation to restore and strengthen the rule of law at home and abroad; a Fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies; and a Senior Fellow with the National Defense University Joint Forces Staff College.

Michelle is also a former U.S. Army Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant Colonel), paratrooper, and combat veteran who was later appointed as a Senior Executive in the U.S. Department of Defense where she was the only designated “Highly Qualified Expert” for Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform. She has field experience in 24 foreign countries, to include 14 active conflicts and a succession of deployments to Afghanistan where her role was to advise Senior Military Commanders on how to connect security force development to governance and justice. Her public security experience, combined with her extensive legal background in the private sector, informs her teaching, research, and the projects she undertakes in partnership with leading international organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and universities. Representative positions have included Chief of Global Strategy for, and Senior Advisor and Visiting Professor to Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Rule of Law for Development Institute in Rome, Italy.

Michelle holds a B.A. from the University of Florida; a J.D., summa cum laude, from Regent University School of Law; and an LL.M., with distinction, from the London School of Economics. Her most recent publication is “Impunity: Countering Illicit Power in War and Transition,” and she is the producer, scriptwriter, and editor of the U.S. National Defense University educational web- and podcast series: “Impunity: Beyond the Book.”