Portrait of Dr Ingvild Bode

Dr Ingvild Bode

Senior Lecturer in International Relations


Ingvild joined the school in 2015. Her overall research agenda covers the area of peace and security, with a theoretical focus combining practice theories and constructivist International Relations. Specifically, she has three research interests. First, the potential influence of individuals from diverse backgrounds on processes of policy evolution at the United Nations, particularly in relation to UN peacekeeping, thematic mandates at the Security Council, and humanitarian affairs. Second, how changing state, in particular post-9/11 US, practices towards the use-of-force contribute to altering the UN Charter’s use-of-force regime. Third, the roles and functions of narratives in conflicts and how these relate to questions of agency. Currently, she also works on the impact that lethal autonomous weapons systems may have on international norms (together with Hendrik Huelss, University of Kent).

Ingvild is the author of Individual Agency and Policy Change at the United Nations (Routledge, 2015) and the co-author of Governing the Use-of-Force: The Post-9/11 US Challenge on International Law (Palgrave, 2014, with Aiden Warren). She has published in journals such as the European Journal of International Relations, Global Governance, International Studies Perspectives, and Contemporary Security Policy.

Ingvild is Associate Editor of Global Society: Journal of Interdisciplinary International Relations and an elected member of the Board of Directors, Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) (2017-2020).

Previously, Ingvild has been a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) International Research Fellow (postdoc) with joined affiliation at United Nations University and the University of Tokyo (2013-2015). She has also lectured at Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Germany (2008-2012), where she was a research fellow and completed her PhD in 2013. Ingvild has practical experience through working at Friends of Europe in Brussels and interning with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva.

Research interests

  • practice theories
  • constructivist International Relations theory
  • individual agency
  • international norms
  • United Nations peacekeeping
  • lethal autonomous weapons systems
  • thematic mandates at the Security Council
  • US use-of-force policy
  • Conflict narratives




Ingvild is interested in supervising PhD students on topics related to her research interests. She is particularly interested in projects that use innovative IR theory, such as practice theories, with a focus on peace and security issues.




  • Bode, I. and Huelss, H. (2019). Introduction to the Special Section: The Autonomisation of Weapons Systems: Challenges to International Relations. Global Policy [Online] 10:327-330. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12704.
    The collection of eight articles in this special section provides insightful thinking points in the context of the political debate, the academic conversation, and the public interest in novel security technologies with autonomous features. These articles are also a call for further, empirically and theoretically informed research into the implications of AI for the international security dimension, specifically, and for societies more generally.
  • Bode, I. (2019). Norm-making and the Global South: Attempts to Regulate Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. Global Policy [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12684.
    The international community has been debating lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) under the auspices of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (UN-CCW) since 2014. Here, a growing number of states from the Global South have been active participants and expressly support a preventive legal ban of fully autonomous systems. This is an interesting observation for two reasons: first, their vocal activism within a UN disarmament forum is noteworthy as these sites have often not been associated with significant representation from the Global South, not least due to financial pressures. Second, their engagement speaks to an evolving critical agenda in norm research, recognising developing states as norm-makers rather than norm-takers and thereby counteracting a long-standing hierarchical depiction of norm promotion, development, and diffusion. The article therefore studies ongoing international deliberations on LAWS from the perspective of the Global South as potential norm-makers.
  • Bode, I. and Karlsrud, J. (2019). Implementation in Practice: The Use of Force to Protect Civilians in United Nations Peacekeeping. European Journal of International Relations [Online] 25:458-485. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066118796540.
    Since the failures of the United Nations of the early 1990s, the protection of civilians has evolved as a new norm for United Nations peacekeeping operations. However, a 2014 United Nations report found that while peacekeeping mandates often include the use of force to protect civilians, this has routinely been avoided by member states. What can account for this gap between the apparently solid normative foundations of the protection of civilians and the wide variation in implementation? This article approaches the question by highlighting normative ambiguity as a fundamental feature of international norms. Thereby, we consider implementation as a political, dynamic process where the diverging understandings that member states hold with regard to the protection of civilians norm manifest and emerge. We visualize this process in combining a criticalconstructivist approach to norms with practice theories. Focusing on the practices of member states’ military advisers at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and their positions on how the protection of civilians should be implemented on the ground, we draw attention to their agency in norm implementation at an international site. Military advisers provide links between national ministries and contingents in the field, while also competing for being recognized as competent performers of appropriate implementation practices. Drawing on an interpretivist analysis of data generated through an online survey, a half-day workshop and interviews with selected delegations, the article adds to the understanding of norms in international relations while also providing empirical insights into peacekeeping effectiveness.
  • Bode, I. (2019). Women or Leaders? Practices of Narrating the United Nations as a Gendered Institution. International Studies Review.
    The United Nations has been an important forum for promoting women’s rights, but women are still underrepresented at the most senior levels of its leadership. This points to persistent obstacles in reaching gender parity at the UN, despite the organization’s overt commitment to this objective. Situated in feminist institutionalist insights, I argue that the institutionalization of gender inequality through practices in the UN as a gendered institution can account for continued barriers to women leadership. This makes contributions to feminist institutionalist literature in International Relations by taking it to the individual, micro level. Practices sustain, inform, and manifest themselves in four interconnected, gendered processes that reinforce gendered divisions of subordination: positional divides, symbols and imagery, everyday interactions, and individual identity (based on Acker 1990, 146-7; Scott 1986). These processes and their practices become accessible through the narrative analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with senior women leaders at the UN. By recognizing their narratives as valid forms of insight into the study of the UN, this approach recognizes women leaders’ agency as opposed to portraying them as numbers only.
  • Bode, I. and Huelss, H. (2018). Autonomous Weapons Systems and Changing Norms in International Relations. Review of International Studies [Online] 44:393-413. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0260210517000614.
    Autonomous weapons systems (AWS) are emerging as key technologies of future warfare. So far, academic debate concentrates on the legal-ethical implications of AWS but these do not capture how AWS may shape norms through defining diverging standards of appropriateness in practice. In discussing AWS, the article formulates two critiques on constructivist models of norm emergence: first, constructivist approaches privilege the deliberative over the practical emergence of norms; and second, they overemphasize fundamental norms rather than also accounting for procedural norms, which we introduce in this article. Elaborating on these critiques allows us to respond to a significant gap in research: we examine how standards of procedural appropriateness emerging in the development and usage of AWS often contradict fundamental norms and public legitimacy expectations. Normative content may therefore be shaped procedurally, challenging conventional understandings of how norms are constructed and considered as relevant in International Relations. In this, we outline the contours of a research program on the relationship of norms and AWS, arguing that AWS can have fundamental normative consequences by setting novel standards of appropriate action in international security policy.
  • den Boer, A. and Bode, I. (2018). Gendering Security: Connecting Theory and Practice. Global Society [Online] 32:365-373. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13600826.2018.1526780.
    Over the past 30 years, feminist approaches to International Relations have become an integral part of the discipline, recognising the subject and the objects of international relations as deeply gendered. Feminist IR scholars have made particularly important contributions to critical security studies, encouraging not only analytical attention to “non-traditional” security threats but also advocating deep reflection on how gendered hierarchies between masculinities and femininities are constructed parts of war, peace, and violence. The development of the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda at the United Nations Security Council since 2000 and its diffusion across regional and national institutions has been a particular, empirical focus of feminist scholarship. This introduction briefly summarises core intellectual tenets of feminist IR in its relation to security studies, thereby providing the intellectual backdrop to the seven contributions of this special issue. These contributions critically unpack the framing of the WPS agenda, the extent to which its diffusion leads to diverging understandings in regional and national contexts, and broader questions related to the detrimental workings of gender constructions in post-conflict scenarios.
  • Bode, I. (2017). Reflective practices at the Security Council: Children and armed conflict and the three United Nations. European Journal of International Relations [Online] 24:293-318. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1354066117714529.
    The United Nations Security Council passed its first resolution on children in armed conflict in 1999, making it one of the oldest examples of Security Council engagement with a thematic mandate and leading to the creation of a dedicated working group in 2005. Existing theoretical accounts of the Security Council cannot account for the developing substance of the children and armed conflict agenda as they are macro-oriented and focus exclusively on states. I argue that Security Council decision-making on thematic mandates is a productive process whose outcomes are created by and through practices of actors across the three United Nations: member states (the first United Nations), United Nations officials (the second United Nations) and nongovernmental organizations (the third United Nations). In presenting a practice-based, micro-oriented analysis of the children and armed conflict agenda, the article aims to deliver on the empirical promise of practice theories in International Relations. I make two contributions to practice-based understandings: first, I argue that actors across the three United Nations engage in reflective practices of a strategic or tactical nature to manage, arrange or create space in Security Council decision-making. Portraying practices as reflective rather than as only based on tacit knowledge highlights how actors may creatively adapt their practices to social situations. Second, I argue that particular individuals from the three United Nations are more likely to become recognized as competent performers of practices because of their personality, understood as plural socialization experiences. This adds varied individual agency to practice theories that, despite their micro-level interests, have focused on how agency is relationally constituted.
  • Bode, I. and Heo, E. (2017). World War II Narratives in Contemporary Germany and Japan: How University Students Understand Their Past. International Studies Perspectives [Online] 18:131-154. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/isp/ekw011.
    This article explores narratives that university students in Germany and Japan tell about World War II. Studying these narratives offers insights into how conflict, reality, and knowledge are socially constructed. Scholars in reconciliation and memory studies have mainly focused on the differences between how Germany and Japan choose to remember their wartime pasts in history curricula and textbooks. However, little is known about how far these official versions of history are reproduced or challenged by university students. Working with data collected through an online survey, our findings address this question by making two arguments: first, the depth of World War II knowledge and the variety of knowledge sources students were exposed to affect whether students engage in a reflective or non-reflective characterization of their home countries’ role. This appears to be primarily influenced by the national knowledge environment students find themselves in. Second, while students surveyed tended to reproduce official narratives, both Japanese and German students also displayed critical engagement with World War II history teaching and knowledge in their countries.
  • Bode, I. and Heo, S. (2015). The dynamics of narratives: What German and Japanese university students tell us about World War II today. Korea Forum 24:16-20.
  • Bode, I. and Warren, A. (2015). Altering the Playing Field: The US Redefinition of the Use-of-Force from Bush to Obama. Contemporary Security Policy [Online] 36:174-199. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13523260.2015.1061768.
    This article will interrogate the degree to which the Obama administration has continued, even at times inadvertently, the Bush administration's challenge on international law. Notwithstanding the Obama administration's bold pronouncements pertaining to reversing its predecessor's policies, little has actually changed when it comes to how the USA considers using military force. As a means to unpack this transition, this article will firstly consider the apparent continuum of use-of-force policies from the Bush to the Obama administration, specifically: the American conflation in the line between pre-emptive and preventive self-defence options; the sustained post-September 11 legacies that continue to lower thresholds towards using military force; and how this ultimately contributes to the erosion of international law in this area. Secondly, this article presents a critical contextualization of Obama's drone programme and its legal arguments in relation to his administration's overall use-of-force policy, focusing on jus ad bellum standards. In light of the centrality of targeted killings under Obama, our article will pay particular attention to the contradiction this poses with regard to his reluctance to use military force in relation to ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria, while also looking at recent adjustments pertaining to use-of-force pronouncements against the Islamic State (IS). The article lastly considers what this will mean for international use-of-force thresholds and the future of the general prohibition on the use-of-force in the context of new and emerging technologies and theaters should the USA continue to skew and adjust its use-of-force policies on when, how, against who and where to use such force.
  • Bode, I. (2015). Akteure des Stillstands oder des Wandels? Die Einflussmöglichkeiten von UN-Bediensteten auf Prozesse des Politikwandels in den UN (Agents of Change or Agents of the Status Quo? The Influence Possibilities of UN Officials on Processes of Chance in the United Nations). Vereinte Nationen [Online] 63:257-262. Available at: http://www.dgvn.de/fileadmin/publications/PDFs/Zeitschrift_VN/VN_2015/Heft_1_2015/Contents_Abstracts_1-15.pdf.
    Obwohl UN-Bedienstete häufig eher mit politischem Stillstand in Verbindung gebracht werden, kann die Entstehung von Ideen wie etwa menschliche Entwicklung auf ihr Handeln zurückgeführt werden. Eine Kombination aus drei Faktoren kann diese potenzielle Rolle von zeitweiligen UN-Bediensteten erklären: Erstens, ihre ›Insider-Outsider‹-Position an der Grenze zwischen den ›zweiten‹ und den ›dritten‹ UN; zweitens ihre Persönlichkeit und drittens die strategische Art und Weise, mit der sie ihre Ideen verbreiten.
  • Bode, I. (2014). Francis Deng and the Concern for Internally Displaced Persons: Intellectual Leadership at the United Nations. Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations [Online] 20:277-295. Available at: http://journals.rienner.com/doi/abs/10.5555/1075-2846-20.2.277.
    Using the case of Francis Deng as representative of the Secretary-General for internally displaced persons as an example, this article considers how temporary civil servants may become intellectual leaders within the United Nations. During his 1992–2004 tenure, Deng managed to raise assistance and protection expectations for the internally displaced through framing their concerns in the concept of sovereignty as responsibility. He also contributed to legal change through formulating protection and assistance standards—the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The article argues that a combination of three factors enabled him to exercise intellectual leadership. First, his insider-outsider position at the border between the UN Secretariat (the second UN) and the nongovernmental organizations, academic scholars, and independent experts who engage regularly with the UN (the third UN); second, his personal qualities; and third, his effective ways of framing at an opportune moment in time.


  • Bode, I. (2015). Individual Agency and Policy Change at the United Nations: The People of the United Nations. [Online]. London, UK: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138806887.
    This book highlights how temporary international civil servants play a crucial role in initiating processes of legal and institutional change in the United Nations system. These individuals are the “missing” creative elements needed to fully understand the emergence and initial spread of UN ideas such as human development, sovereignty as responsibility, and multifunctional peacekeeping.

    The book:
    •Shows that that temporary UN officials are an actor category which is empirically crucial, yet usually neglected in analytical studies of the UN system. Focussing on these particular individual actors therefore allows for a better understanding of complex UN decision-making.
    •Demonstrates how these civil servants matter, looking at what their agency is based on. Offering a new and distinctive model, Bode seeks to move towards a comprehensive conceptualisation of individual agency, which is currently conspicuous for its absence in many theoretical approaches that address policy change
    •Uses three key case studies of international civil servants (Francis Deng, Mahbub ul Haq and Marrack Goulding) to explore the possibilities of this specific group of UN individuals to act as agents of change and thereby test the prevailing notion that international bureaucrats can only act as agents of the status quo.
  • Bode, I. and Warren, A. (2014). Governing the Use-of-Force in International Relations: The Post 9/11 US Challenge on International Law. [Online]. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137411433.
    This book examines US recourse to military force in the post-9/11 era. In particular, it evaluates the extent to which the Bush and Obama administrations viewed legitimizing the greater use-of-force as a necessary solution to thwart the security threat presented by global terrorist networks and WMD proliferation.
  • Diez, T., Bode, I. and Fernandes da Costa, A. (2011). Key Concepts in International Relations. [Online]. Sage. Available at: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/key-concepts-in-international-relations/book229762.
    International relations is a vibrant field of significant growth and change. This book guides students through the complexities of the major theories of international relations and the debates that surround them, the core theoretical concepts, and the key contemporary issues.

Book section

  • Bode, I. (2018). Expertise as social practice: The Special Procedures at the UN Human Rights Council and the individual construction of experts. In: Schneiker, A., Henrich-Franke, C., Kaiser, R. and Lahusen, C. eds. Transnational Expertise: Internal Cohesion and External Recognition of Expert Groups. Baden-Baden, Germany: Nomos, pp. 101-126. Available at: https://www.nomos-elibrary.de/10.5771/9783845291277-1/titelei-inhaltsverzeichnis.
  • Bode, I. (2017). ’Manifestly Failing’ and ’Unwilling or Unable’ as Intervention Formulas: A Critical Assessment. In: Warren, A. and Grenfell, D. eds. Rethinking Intervention: Security and the Limits of Humanitarian Intervention. Edinburgh University Press. Available at: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-rethinking-humanitarian-intervention-in-the-21st-century.html.
    After 2001, states have increasingly used the “unwilling or unable” formula when justifying military intervention against terrorist targets, such as the United States with respect to targeted killings outside declared theatres of conflict. Moreover, the closely related term “manifestly failing,” serves as a key determinant triggering the international community’s responsibility for protecting vulnerable populations following the third pillar of the responsibility to protect (R2P). Since 2014, the “unwilling and unable” formula has also served as a legal justification for international air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria, despite the Syrian state having declared its willingness to cooperate. Given the formula’s apparent rising prominence, the paper will critically discuss the legal foundations and policy practice of the “unwilling and unable” standard and evaluate what this means for developments of state sovereignty. This examination will relate the formula to other legal justifications for intervening militarily, such as state consent, especially in the context of state disintegration.
  • Bode, I. (2017). Manifestly Failing and Unwilling or Unable as Intervention Formulas: A Critical Analysis. In: Warren, A. and Grenfell, D. eds. Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention in the 21st Century. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 164-191. Available at: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-rethinking-humanitarian-intervention-in-the-21st-century.html.
  • Bode, I. (2014). Storytelling in den Vereinten Nationen: Mahbub ul Haq und menschliche Entwicklung. In: Gadinger, F., Jarzebski, S. and Yildiz, T. eds. Politische Narrative: Ein Neuer Analysezugang in Der Politikwissenschaft. Springer, pp. 339-362.
    Ausgehend von der Beobachtung, dass Mitarbeiter der Vereinten Nationen eine wichtige Rolle in Prozessen des ideellen Wandels auf internationaler Ebene spielen können, beschäftigt sich dieser Beitrag mit einer bestimmten Form individuellem Einflusses – dem storytelling. Mein Verständnis von storytelling als Einflusstaktik kombiniert dabei kollektive Elemente der soziologischen Praxistheorie mit den reflexiven, akteursbezogenen Überlegungen von Michel de Certeau. Ich analysiere storytelling anhand von drei analytischen Elementen: einem (chronologischen) Plot, einer Reihe von Charakteren und einem interpretativen Thema – die jeweils ihre Wirkung im Zusammenspiel mit der Subjektivität ihres storytellers entfalten. Ich illustriere diese theoretischen Überlegungen mit dem Fall von Mahbub ul Haq, dem es als Sonderberater des United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Administrators zu Beginn der 1990er Jahre gelungen ist, die Idee der menschlichen Entwicklung im System der Vereinten Nationen und der internationalen Entwicklungspolitik zu etablieren.

Conference or workshop item

  • Bode, I. and Huelss, H. (2017). Autonomous Weapons Systems and Changing Norms in International Relations. In: European International Studies Association (EISA) 11th Pan-European Conference on International Relations.
  • Bode, I. and Huelss, H. (2017). Changing Warfare: Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems as a Challenge to International Norms. In: International Studies Association Annual Convention 2017.

Internet publication

  • Bode, I. (2018). AI Has Already Been Weaponised - and It Shows Why We Should Ban "killer Robots" [online publication]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/ai-has-already-been-weaponised-and-it-shows-why-we-should-ban-killer-robots-102736.
  • Bode, I. (2017). Verhandlungen Ueber Killerroboter in Genf [online]. Available at: https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Verhandlungen-ueber-Killerroboter-in-Genf-3893368.html.
  • Bode, I. and Huelss, H. (2017). Why "stupid" Machines Matter: Autonomous Weapons and Shifting Norms [online publication]. Available at: http://thebulletin.org/why-“stupid”-machines-matter-autonomous-weapons-and-shifting-norms11189.
  • Bode, I. (2017). Where Are the Female Leaders at the UN? Gender Bias Persists [online publication]. Available at: http://www.passblue.com/2017/08/28/where-are-the-female-leaders-at-the-un-gender-bias-persists/.
  • Bode, I. and Heo, S. (2017). The Presence of the Past: Selective National Narratives and International Encounters in University Classrooms. [[blog entry]. Available at: https://blog.oup.com/2017/05/selective-national-narratives-classrooms-history/.
  • Bode, I. (2016). Personalities can’t Be Ignored in Candidacies for UN Secretary-General [internet publication]. Available at: http://www.passblue.com/2016/08/16/personalities-cant-be-ignored-in-candidacies-for-un-secretary-general/.
    What personal qualities are needed to become a successful United Nations secretary-general? The 2016 campaign to select a new leader features many novelties in the UN’s history: an official list of candidates, public job interviews by the General Assembly and informal panel debates in London and New York. Civil society coalitions and the current president of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, are invested in making the selection more transparent and competitive.

    But can these procedural reforms help to identify the best person for what is labeled the most impossible job in the world? After all, the secretary-general matters only as much as the person who holds that job, as he or she can rely on little explicit authority from the UN Charter. How much the position has developed is related to how previous secretaries-general have used it.

    Looking at the personal qualities of three candidates, based on their different regional groups and the fact that they are women — a key point of discussion — is an important step at this stage in the process, which has entered the straw-poll step to begin eliminating candidates, which began as 12 and is now 11. (The next straw poll is Aug. 29.)
  • Bode, I. (2016). How the World’s Interventions in Syria Have Normalised the Use of Force [blog publication]. Available at: http://theconversation.com/how-the-worlds-interventions-in-syria-have-normalised-the-use-of-force-54505.
    Since 2012, the war in Syria has lurched from one escalation to another. Syrians have been subjected to large-scale military force not only by their own government, but also by an array of rebel groups, Islamic State (IS), a US-led coalition and other states. The results have been devastating, as the recent bombing of hospitals illustrates in particular.

    Most of the international interventions came in the form of air strikes, though this may change if reports that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are contemplating a ground invasion are true. Although these actions have triggered debate in legal circles, their repercussions for the way force is used haven’t got much attention.

    The interventions in Syria may have deeply affected the norms that define the architecture of global security. Once military force becomes the rule rather than the exception, the general prohibition on the use of force is threatened. This changes established boundaries of what’s permissible, and therefore corrodes one of the core premises of global security in general.


  • Bode, I. and Huelss, H. (2017). The Implications of Emerging Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems for International Peace and Security.
    This policy brief speaks to the military effects of lethal autonomous weapons systems raised in the GGE chairperson’s food-for-thought paper (CCW/GGE1/2017/WP1). In particular, it addresses the following questions: Could the potential deployment of LAWS lower the threshold of use of force? Could it enhance asymmetric deployment of force or covert use of force?
    The brief provides answers to these questions in two steps. First, it argues that international legal regulations governing the use of force, centred around the general prohibition of the use-of force, have played a significant role in maintaining international peace and security in the UN-Charter era. This role is based both on states’ shared sense of being bound by these rules and the certainty of expectations they thus provide. Second, the development of LAWS threatens this certainty of expectations because they are likely to introduce more “grey areas” in how states interpret international law.
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