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Professor Jean Allain

Professor. Jean Allain - Queen's University Belfast Research Portal - Research Directory & Institutional Repository for QUB
Jean Allain

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Research Statement

Since 2011, Jean Allain has held the Chair in Public International Law at Queen's University Belfast.


Prof. Jean Allain is a generalist in public international law with a specialisation in human rights and is the leading legal expert on issues of slavery and trafficking.

     In 2008, Prof. Allain was appointed Extraordinary Professor of Law, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, by the Senate of the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

     While undertaking his legal studies in Geneva, Jean Allain clerked for Judge Antonio Cassese, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.


Prof. Allain has been the Principal Investigator on research grants received from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK); British Academy; International Council for Canadian Studies; Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Leverhulme Trust; and Rockefeller Foundation.  From 2010 to 2012 he was a Leverhulme Research Fellow.

He is currently a Co-Investigator on a five-year AHRC grant entitled The Antislavery Usable Past worth £1.85 million with Kevin Bales, John Oldfield, and Zoe Trodd; as well as an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grant on food safety headed by Chirstopher Elliott. 

Prof. Allain is also a Co-Investigator on a grant through the Fundacion EuroArabe, based in Granada, Spain, which is part of a greater project seeking to identify and translate historical texts related to public international law from the Islamic World, China, Ethiopia, India, Persia, Russia, etc.


See a 2014 presentation by Prof Allain on “The Paradox of Slavery: A Human Right rarely Tried in Court” given at the Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto.


Prof. Allain’s most recent publications include:

- Jean Allain, The Law and Slavery: Prohibiting Human Exploitation, Martinus Nijhoff, 2015, 640pp; the introduction of which is available as the SSRN Paper: "125 Years of Abolition: The Law Curtailing Slavery and Human Exploitation".

- “The Implications of the Preparatory Works for Debates on Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labour”, Adelle Blackett and Anne Trebilcock (eds.), Research Handbook on Transnational Labour Law, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015, 15pp.

- Ting Xu and Jean Allain (eds.) Property Rights and Human Rights in a Global Context, Hart Publishing, 2015, 327pp.


 While his forthcoming publications include:

 - “Khadduri as Gatekeeper of the Islamic Law of Nations: Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? or rather الذين سوف يشاهد مراقبو؟”, Ignacio de la Rasilla del Moral and Ayesha Shahid (eds.) New Approaches to the History of International Law and Islam, Brill, 2016, 12pp.

- (translation of) Joseph-Mathias Gérard de Rayneval, Insitutions de droit de la nature et des gens (The Institutions of Natural Law and the Law of Nations), 1803, Oxford University Press, 2017, 220pp.


Jean Allain completed his studies at HEI – Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales – the Graduate Institute for International Studies of the University of Geneva, having received a PhD in International Law in 2000. He wrote his Master’s thesis at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in San José, Costa Rica, as a Fellow of the Organization of American States. Previous to his appointment at Queen’s University, Belfast, Prof. Allain taught at the American University in Cairo, Egypt from 1998 to 2004.

     Prof. Allain has published in the leading international journals including the American Journal of International Law, British Yearbook of International Law, European Journal of International Law, International Journal of Refugee Law, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, and Human Rights Quarterly. He is author of the following monographs, beyond The Law and Slavery: Slavery in International Law: Of Human Exploitation and Trafficking (2013), The Slavery Conventions: The Travaux Préparatoires of the 1926 League of Nations Convention and the 1956 United Nations Convention (2008), International Law in the Middle East: Closer to Power than Justice (2004), and A Century of International Adjudication: The Rule of Law and its Limits (2000). He is also the editor of The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary (2012) and Unlocking the Middle East: The Writings of Richard Falk (2003).


Prof. Allain has been cited as authority by, inter alia, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.


Jean Allain is on the editorial board and is Founding Editor of the Irish Yearbook of International Law; he is on the editorial boards of African Human Rights Law JournalBritish Journal of Interdisciplinary StudiesInonu University Law Journal, Journal of Global Slavery, Journal of Trafficking and Human Exploitaiton, and Jus Gentium: A Journal of Internaitonal Legal History


Prof. Allain has conducted consultant work for the International Labour Organisation, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He has led postgraduate teams in preparing reports and amici curiae for the International Criminal Court, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, and the Northern Ireland Assembly.


Prof. Allain has been a visiting scholar at Australian National University, Harvard Law School, Melbourne Law School, Dickinson Law School (Penn State University), and the University of Geneva.

Prof. Allain presented the 2015 Theo van Boven Lecture at the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights in November of that year.


Prof. Allain's writtings have been cited by, inter alia, the International Criminal Court, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the High Court of Australia.


Within the School of Law Prof. Allain served a term as the Director of the Human Rights Centre (2011-2014) and as Director of Postgradute Studies (2009-2011).


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