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Simon Behrman


Personal profile

Personal profile

Simon Behrman joined the Law School from the University of East Anglia,. Previously he taught at Birkbeck, University of London, where he completed his LLB, MRes and PhD. He earlier studied for a BA in English and Politics in New York. Simon's doctoral thesis, entitled ‘Freedom from Seizure: Asylum and Law’, provides a genealogy of asylum from classical times up to the medieval period, a historical traversal of refugee law over the past two centuries, and detailed critical analysis of the US Sanctuary Movement. The research for this project encompassed a wide range of disciplines including ancient and modern history, theology, political theory as well as law.

Simon has published work on refugee law, policing and the use of force, and on the work of Giorgio Agamben. In recent years he has presented his work at academic conferences in the UK, USA, Colombia, Poland, Egypt, Australia, India and Turkey. In 2008-2009 he was an intern at the NGO Rights Watch (UK). There he conducted detailed research into the inquest into the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes, and the history of police killings in Northern Ireland. This work resulted in a research paper for Rights Watch (UK). In 2012 Simon spent five months as a research scholar at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., studying the US Sanctuary Movement and the Sans-Papiers in France.

Simon is currently involved in a joint research project on 'climate refugees' together with Dr Avidan Kent at the University of East Anglia.

In 2015 Simon was commissioned to write a paper for the Japanese government on the historical experience of immigration policy and labour shortages in Europe and North America. In 2016 he was invited by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to a meeting of technical experts in Morocco. The purpose of this meeting was to draw up guidlines for the work of the Warsaw Loss and Damage Mechanism, as mandated by the COP21, in devising solutions to the problem of climate-induced displacement

Simon's research interests include: refugee law; legal history; legal theory, particularly the works of Evgeny Pashukanis, Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben; the inter-relationship between law and politics; the history of policing, and the law governing the use of force. He is happy to supervise doctoral students in any of these, or related areas.

At Royal Holloway Simon is Course Convenor for Public International Law. He also teaches Tort, and Policing on the Criminology and Sociology degree program. teaches seminars on Legal Method and Reasoning. In the past he has also taught International Humanitarian and Refugee Law, Contract, Legal Reasoning, and Criminal Law.

Simon is also a visiting professor at LUISS University in Rome, where he teaches an annual series of lectures on the European Convention on Human Rights.

Simon has been quoted as an expert on the legality of the use of drone strikes on the BBC, and in the New York Times and the Daily Telegraph, amongst other outlets.

Prior to academia, Simon had a varied career including publishing, and work for a mental health charity. He has spent many years as a political activist. Simon also has an interest in classical music and has published and given talks on the subject.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions