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Personal profile


Ainley has a PhD and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford. 


Kirsten is a feminist scholar of international relations who works on gender and justice in conflict-affected states. She is Co-Chief Investigator of the UKRI GCRF Gender, Justice and Security Hub, which is a five-year project working at the overlap of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

In addition, she is principal investigator on the Hybrid Justice project, analysing the impact of ‘hybrid’ domestic-international criminal justice mechanisms in post-conflict and transitioning states, and on the ESRC Conflict, Justice and Development project, researching the links between transitional justice and development in Colombia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Uganda. She is co-Chief Investigator on the GCRF Performing Violence, Engendering Change research cluster.


Research interests

Kirsten's research is in the fields of feminist international relations and global ethics, and focuses on the relationships between politics, law and ethics at the international level.

Her individual scholarly work to date has largely been driven by the question ‘where does responsibility lie for alleviating global harms such as injustice, inequality and insecurity, and how is that responsibility exercised?’. She explores how and for whom ethical agency is constructed, and what this means in terms of how responsibility is allocated and practiced. Her interests include the ethical and political problems arising from interventions (military, legal, political and economic) into conflict and post-conflict environments. This field of enquiry cuts across a number of issue areas in IR, including gender, human rights, humanitarian intervention, international law and peacebuilding. She has comparative expertise across conflict and post-conflict cases and has conducted research in Cambodia, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.

External positions

Associate Professorial Research Fellow , The London School of Economics and Political Science


  • JZ International relations
  • Feminist IR
  • JX International law
  • International Criminal law
  • BJ Ethics
  • Global ethics


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