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20072022

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Personal profile

Biography

Senior Lecturer Christoph Sperfeldt teaches and pursues socio-legal research in areas of human rights and justice that is empirically grounded and delivers impact of relevance to both scholarly debates and applied endeavours – with a geographical focus on Southeast Asia. Much of his research has centred on how law and its institutions are enacted and experienced by the people who they are designed to serve. Christoph has explored this across a variety of issues, including international human rights law & related protection mechanisms, rule of law & judicial reforms, forced migration and development cooperation. In particular, he has made internationally-recognised contributions to two fields of research, transitional justice and statelessness.

Building on his longstanding professional work and research in Cambodia, Christoph has built an extensive research agenda in transitional and international criminal justice. His monograph Practices of Reparations in International Criminal Justice (CUP, 2022) examines the first attempts of international criminal courts to provide reparations to victims of mass atrocities. This research led to requests for advice from a range of institutions involved in reparations work, including the NGO REDRESS, the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, GIZ and Amnesty International.

Christoph’s interest in statelessness and legal identity arose from multi-year field research among the Vietnamese minority in Cambodia. From 2018 to 2021, he was Senior Research Fellow at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness at Melbourne Law School, where he also led the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative as Academic Convenor. He remains affiliated with the Centre as a Honorary Fellow. Christoph has advised the UNHCR and is member of a UN International Expert Group on a study on undocumented populations in Sabah, Malaysia.

Christoph is a Fellow at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University, an Associate of the Asia Law Centre at Melbourne Law School, and Adjunct Professor at the Center for the Study of Humanitarian Law at the Royal University of Law and Economics, Cambodia. He was a University Fellow at Charles Darwin University and held visiting positions at the University of Copenhagen, Tilburg University, KU Leuven, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Queen’s University Belfast. Since 2022, Christoph has been Visiting Professor with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, supporting human rights education and training at Cambodian universities. He holds a PhD from the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University.

Before joining Macquarie Law School, Christoph worked on the ARC-funded project ‘Constitutional Change in Authoritarian Regimes: The Case of Myanmar’ (with Prof. Melissa Crouch at UNSW). He also brings to his role at the law school more than a decade of professional experience in working on human rights and the rule of law, predominantly in Southeast Asia. He was Deputy Director at the Asian International Justice Initiative, a joint program of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University and the East-West Center, where he supported human rights and justice sector capacity development in ASEAN. Prior to this, Christoph was Senior Advisor with the German development agency (GIZ) in Cambodia.

Research interests

Law & society

Human rights

Transitional & international criminal justice

Statelessness, citizenship & legal identity

Refugees & forced migration

Southeast Asia & ASEAN

Research student supervision

I have supervised HDR students in the areas of international criminal justice, statelessness and refugees/forced migration. I am available to supervise students in my research interest areas.

Teaching

Director Law Coursework Masters

LAWS5079 & LAWS8037 Refugees & Forced Migration

Education/Academic qualification

Law, Regulation & Governance, PhD, Australian National University

20142018

Award Date: 14 Dec 2018

External positions

Visiting Professor, Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Cambodia Program

2022 → …

Honorary Fellow, Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, Melbourne Law School

20212022

Associate, Asia Law Centre, Melbourne Law School

2020 → …

Adjunct Professor, Center for the Study of Humanitarian Law, Royal University of Law & Economics, Cambodia

2019 → …

Fellow, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Stanford University

2018 → …

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