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Rebecca Sanders

Title: Assistant Professor, Political Science; Affiliate Faculty, WGSS
Office: 1115 Crosley Tower
Tel: 513-556-3316
Email: sanderr8@ucmail.uc.edu

Website: https://www.rebeccasandersphd.com

Dr. Sanders’ research agenda lies at the intersection of international law, international security, and human rights. Her current project examines the complex and often contradictory role of legal and normative constraints in shaping contentious post-9/11 American interrogation, detention, "targeted killing," and surveillance practices. She is particularly concerned with the legitimizing and immunizing functions of legal argument and the reciprocal effects such processes have on the rule of law. 

Dr. Sanders is also developing new research on international norm contestation in global politics, which explores backlash against the international women's rights agenda at the United Nations and beyond.


  • Ph.D. , Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, 2012.
  • M.A. , Department of Political Science, McGill University , 2005.
  • B.A. (Honours), Arts and Science, McGill University , 2003.

Research Information

Research Interests

International Security
International and National Security Law
Global Governance
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
American Foreign Policy
Intelligence Agencies
North-South Relations
Ethics and International Relations
Human Rights
Women's Rights
Norm Contestation

Research Support

  • (PI), Sanders, Rebecca, Permissive Constraint: The Paradox of Law in the American “Global War on Terror”, UC's University Research Council. (URC Faculty 2012-13), $8,000.00. 05-01-2013 to 06-30-2013. Status: Closed.


Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Rebecca Sanders. (2011). “(Im)plausible legality: The rationalisation of human rights abuses in the American ‘Global War on Terror’". The International Journal of Human Rights, 15 (4), 605-626. [Link]
  • Rebecca Sanders. (2014). "Legal Frontiers: Targeted Killing at the Borders of War". Journal of Human Rights, 13 (4), 512-536. [Link]
  • Rebecca Sanders. (2016). "Norm Proxy War and Resistance Through Outsourcing: The Dynamics of Transnational Human Rights Contestation". Human Rights Review, 17 (2), 165-191. [Link]
  • Rebecca Sanders. (2015). "Torture" . The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell. [Link]
  • Rebecca Sanders. (2018). "Human Rights Abuses at the Limits of the Law: Legal Instabilities and Vulnerabilities in the "Global War on Terror”". Review of International Studies, 44 (1), 2-23. [Link]
  • Rebecca Sanders. (2018). "Norm Spoiling: Undermining the International Women's Rights Agenda". International Affairs, 94 (2), 271-291. [Link]

Published Books

  • Rebecca Sanders, Plausible Legality: Legal Culture and Political Imperative in the Global War on Terror. Oxford University Press, 2018. [Link]

Experience & Service

Courses Taught

  • POL 2085
    Terrorism and Insurgency
    Level: Undergraduate
  • POL 2088
    International Law and Organization
    Level: Undergraduate
  • POL 2089
    International Human Rights
    Level: Undergraduate
  • POL 3089
    Ethics, Violence, and War
    Level: Undergraduate
  • POL 469
    Ethics and International Relations
    Level: Undergraduate
  • POL 1089
    Human Rights & Security: Seeking Balance in a Free Society
    Level: Undergraduate
  • POL 7084
    Contemporary International Law
    Level: Graduate