Portrait of Dr Gavin Sullivan

Dr Gavin Sullivan

Senior Lecturer in Law
Director, KLS Seminar and Visiting Scholar Programme


Gavin joined Kent Law School (KLS) as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in January 2016. Prior to joining KLS he worked as a doctoral researcher in the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands). His doctoral thesis – which examined the post-9/11 terrorism listing regime of the United Nations Security Council from a global socio-legal perspective – was awarded the distinction of cum laude and nominated for numerous international prizes.
Gavin’s current research focuses on the politics of global security law and data infrastructures. He uses socio-legal and ethnographic methods to critically examine contemporary security practices and problems of transnational and algorithmic governance. Gavin is especially interested in understanding how law changes when trying to counter unknown future threats and how new technologies, forms of expertise and knowledge practices help create and shape what law is.

Research interests

Gavin’s current research interests include: Global Security Law, Algorithmic Governance and Accountability, the Politics of Expertise, Preemptive Security and Human Rights. He is currently working on three projects. First, Gavin is finalising his first book (entitled The Law of the List: UN Counterterrorism Sanctions and the Politics of Global Security Law), which will be published in 2020 in the Global Law Series of Cambridge University Press. Second, he is undertaking a British Academy-funded research project with Alejandro Rodiles of ITAM University (Mexico) entitled Global Security Assemblages and International law: A Socio-Legal Study of Emergency in Motion. The project examines how informal global security platforms (like the Global Counterterrorism Forum and Global Internet Forum to Counter-Terrorism) are transforming international security law. Finally, he is researching new security infrastructures being advanced by the UN Security Council’s push for state and non-state actors to share, collect and analyse data to identify potential threats. 


Gavin has teaching experience in Public, Transnational, International and Human Rights law as well as International Relations and Critical Security Studies. At Kent Law School, he convenes (in 2018/19) the core undergraduate module, Public Law 2 and the postgraduate module, Global Security Law, the latter taught in both Canterbury and the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS).   


Gavin is particularly interested in supervising PhD students who wish to undertake cross-cutting, socio-legal research in the following areas:

  • Global Security Law and Governance
  • Critical Security Studies
  • Algorithmic Governance and Accountability
  • Transnational Law and Legal Theory
  • International Organisations law
  •  Counterterrorism and Human Rights
  •  Peacebuilding, Development and Counterterrorism
  • Critical Infrastructure Studies      
  • Informal International Lawmaking
  • Collective Security 


Gavin is a Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales with a background in public law, international law and human rights litigation. He has represented clients in proceedings before the High Court and Court of Appeal, the European Court of Human Rights and the Ombudsperson of the UN Security Council. Gavin previously directed the Counterterrorism Program at the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (Berlin) and has worked as a litigator with Leigh Day & Co (London) and the Government Legal Department (London). He currently coordinates the Transnational Listing Project – a global law clinic that provides pro bono legal representation to people targeted by security lists worldwide and advocates for their right to due process.
Gavin is regularly engaged as an expert for international organisations and NGOs. He has previously advised peacebuilding organisations working in Somalia on the impact of global security measures on their work. He has also worked with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights effects of Security Council counterterrorism measures. He helped draft the Guidance to States on human-rights compliant responses to the threat posed by foreign fighters issued by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) in June 2018

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