Rebecca Sanders

Rebecca Sanders

Associate Professor, Political Science; Affiliate Faculty, WGSS

Crosley Tower


A&S Political Science - 0375

Professional Summary


Dr. Sanders’ research agenda lies at the intersection of international law, international security, and human rights. Her current project examines the complex and often contradictory role of legal and normative constraints in shaping contentious post-9/11 American interrogation, detention, "targeted killing," and surveillance practices. She is particularly concerned with the legitimizing and immunizing functions of legal argument and the reciprocal effects such processes have on the rule of law. 

Dr. Sanders is also developing new research on international norm contestation in global politics, which explores backlash against the international women's rights agenda at the United Nations and beyond.


Ph.D. , Department of Political Science, University of Toronto 2012

M.A. , Department of Political Science, McGill University 2005

B.A. (Honours), Arts and Science, McGill University 2003

Research and Practice Interests

International Security
International and National Security Law
Global Governance
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
American Foreign Policy
Intelligence Agencies
North-South Relations
Ethics and International Relations
Human Rights
Women's Rights
Norm Contestation

Research Support

Grant: #URC Faculty 2012-13 Investigators:Sanders, Rebecca 05-01-2013 -06-30-2013 UC's University Research Council Permissive Constraint: The Paradox of Law in the American “Global War on Terror” Role:PI $8,000.00 Closed Level:Internal UC

Grant: #R40746 Investigators:Jenkins, Laura; Sanders, Rebecca 07-01-2019 -12-31-2020 UC's AHSS Faculty Research Summer Stipend Program The Indivisibility of Human Rights?: Religious Freedom, Women’s Rights, and Conflicting International Legal Claims Role:PI $10,000.00 Active Level:Internal UC


Peer Reviewed Publications

Rebecca Sanders. (2011. )“(Im)plausible legality: The rationalisation of human rights abuses in the American ‘Global War on Terror’" .The International Journal of Human Rights, ,15 (4 ),605-626

Rebecca Sanders. (2014. )"Legal Frontiers: Targeted Killing at the Borders of War" .Journal of Human Rights, ,13 (4 ),512-536

Rebecca Sanders. (2016. )"Norm Proxy War and Resistance Through Outsourcing: The Dynamics of Transnational Human Rights Contestation" .Human Rights Review, ,17 (2 ),165-191

Rebecca Sanders. (2015. )"Torture" .The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, ,Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell ,

Rebecca Sanders. (2018. )"Human Rights Abuses at the Limits of the Law: Legal Instabilities and Vulnerabilities in the "Global War on Terror”" .Review of International Studies, ,44 (1 ),2-23

Rebecca Sanders. (2018. )"Norm Spoiling: Undermining the International Women's Rights Agenda" .International Affairs, ,94 (2 ),271-291

Andrea Birdsall and Rebecca Sanders (2020. )Trumping International Law?.International Studies Perspectives, ,

Published Books

Rebecca Sanders, Plausible Legality: Legal Culture and Political Imperative in the Global War on Terror .Oxford University Press, 2018

Courses Taught

Terrorism and Insurgency Level:Undergraduate

International Law and Organization Level:Undergraduate

International Human Rights Level:Undergraduate

Ethics, Violence, and War Level:Undergraduate

Ethics and International Relations Level:Undergraduate

Human Rights & Security: Seeking Balance in a Free Society Level:Undergraduate

Contemporary International Law Level:Graduate