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Dr Sarah B. K. von Billerbeck

Lecturer in International Relations

vBillerbeckDepartment of War Studies

Room: K6.55

King's College London


London WC2R 2LS   

020 7848 7889

I am on maternity leave until April 2015.




I joined the Department of War Studies as Lecturer in International Relations in 2013. My research focuses on post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction, in particular local ownership and UN peace operations, and my area focus is D.R. Congo and Sub-Saharan Africa more generally. I have also conducted research on post-conflict aid and corruption and on peacekeeping, aid, and development.

I hold a DPhil from the University of Oxford (Nuffield College), an MS from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

I have worked for the American Refugee Committee in Guinea, the UN peacekeeping mission in D.R. Congo (MONUC), and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia in Lebanon. I have served as a consultant for a number of think tanks, international organizations, and private risk consultancies.

At King's, I am the Specialist Tutor for Students with Disabilities. I currently serve as Reviews Editor for International Peacekeeping.

Research Interests

My current research interests include UN peacebuilding, local ownership, power and peace operations, institutional self-legitimation, and multilateralism in post-conflict reconstruction. I am also interested in methodological issues in studying the United Nations.

  • Local Ownership and UN Peacebuilding: This project examines the relationship between international and national actors in the context of the UN’s post-conflict peace operations. I look at how the UN’s discourse and practice differ and what this tells us about the behavior of the UN as an organization more generally.
  • Corruption, Peacebuilding, and Aid: This project examined how different aid modalities affect peacebuilding and development in the aftermath of civil war. In particular, it looked at how aid that is disbursed through states can bolster peacebuilding efforts but encourage corruption, while aid that is disbursed around states can minimize corruption but delay the consolidation of peace. My findings were published in Corruption and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: Selling the Peace? (Routledge 2011), edited by Christine Cheng (KCL) and Dominik Zaum (Reading).
  • Peacekeeping, Aid, and Development: This project (with Anke Hoeffler and Syeda ShahBano Ijaz) examined how UN peacekeeping missions and development aid affect the duration of peace after civil war. Our findings were published as a Background Paper for the World Bank World Development Report in 2011.

  • “Guinea: An Island of Stability?” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Issue 7.1, Winter/Spring 2006.
  • Whose Peace? Local Ownership and UN Peacebuilding,The Future of Statebuilding: Ethics, Power and Responsibility in International Relations, Conference Proceedings, University of Westminster, 9-11 October 2009.Special Issue of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 2011.
  • Post-Conflict Recovery and Peacebuilding.” World Development Report 2011 Background Paper. With Anke Hoeffler and Syeda Shahbano Ijaz. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2011.
  • “Aiding the State or Aiding Corruption? Aid and Corruption in Post-Conflict Countries,” in Christine Cheng and Dominik Zaum (eds.), Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and Corruption: Selling the Peace?, London: Routledge, 2011.

I teach the following MA modules:

  • 7SSWM140 Conflict, Security, and Development.

I teach the following BA modules:

  • 4SSWM1001 Causes of War.
PhD Supervision

I am happy to consider supervision in the following areas:

  • Armed conflict/civil war
  • Post-conflict peacekeeping and peacebuilding
  • The United Nations and international organizations
  • African politics
  • Conflict and development
Expertise and Public Engagement

I have expertise in post-conflict reconstruction, peacebuilding, and the UN, as well as area expertise in D.R. Congo and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. I am committed to creating opportunities for academics and policy makers to interact and share knowledge, and I have consulted for a variety of organizations including the World Bank, the UK government, and Oxford Analytica. I enjoy collaborative projects both across departments within academia as well as with governments, NGOs, international organizations, the private sector, and think tanks.

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