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Dr Christopher Szabla

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor in the Durham Law School


Christopher Szabla is Assistant Professor in International Law at Durham Law School. His research has focused on international law, legal history, migration, and mobility and border control.

He earned a BA from Columbia University, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an MA and PhD from Cornell University. He was senior editor of the Harvard International Law Journal and has also studied in Berlin and Cairo.

Prior to joining Durham, Christopher was a Global Academic Fellow at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, where he co-founded a Junior Scholars Forum, was on the board of the Centre for Comparative and Public Law, and taught criminal law. Earlier, he taught courses on international law, migration, and history at Cornell. He has also been a visiting fellow at the Graduate Institute Geneva.

He is a member of the bar in New York, where he was a practicing attorney. He has also worked in refugee legal assistance in Cairo and for the UN agency assisting the Khmer Rouge trials in Cambodia.

His research has earned the Morris Cohen Prize from the American Association of Law Libraries and grants from the Social Science Research Council, the Council for European Studies, and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. He also received Cornell’s Messenger Chalmers Prize for his doctoral work in history.

Recent publications have explored how decolonisation impacted the divergence between migration and refugee law, how the International Labour Organisation's influenced migrant rights in colonial and developmental contexts, the reform of global migration governance, the history of the jurisprudence of free movement, and international legal debate over colonial wars. His book project focuses on the history of international migration law and organisations and their consequences for ideas of sovereignty and the roots of recent “migration crises.”

He is currently undertaking new projects concerned with extraterritorial border control and ad hoc extraditions. A larger historical project concerns small jurisdictions' challenges in balancing border control and necessary mobility, with ramifications for how states approach mobility in a fragmenting world today.

Media enquiries

Dr Szabla welcomes media enquiries concerning international law, global order, colonial legacies, and migration and border control. 

Research interests

  • International Law
  • International Legal History
  • Global Legal History
  • Migration and Refugees
  • Law of Armed Conflict


Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

Supervision students