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Dr Sam Selvadurai joined the Department of War Studies as a Senior Visiting Research Fellow in January 2021. He holds a PhD in War Studies and an MA in International Peace and Security from the Department of War Studies. He also holds a BA in Economics and Politics from the University of Warwick. He is a member of the War Crimes Research Group at King’s.

Sam’s research has focused on how legal and factual uncertainty and extra-legal intuitions shape decision-making about the law governing resort to force. His PhD investigated these issues using a combination of legal and political theory, textual analysis of key cases at the International Court of Justice and writings by legal scholars, and interviews and a survey with leading UK-based international lawyers. Law, War and the Penumbra of Uncertainty, a book based on Sam’s research, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. Sam was also lead author with Professor M L R Smith of ‘Black Tigers, Bronze Lotus: the evolution and dynamics of Sri Lanka’s strategies of dirty war’, in Volume 36, issue 7 in 2013 of the journal Studies in Conflict & Terrorism.

Sam is by profession a civil servant who has worked in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office since 1993. He has worked on Counter Proliferation, Counter Terrorism, Human Rights, Defence and International Security Policy, Europe policy, and Strategy. He has served on postings to the UK Delegation to NATO in Brussels and the British Embassy in Moscow, and has been seconded to the Home Office in London. Sam has contributed to a number of government publications, including the FCO’s Annual Human Rights Reports of 1999 and 2000, and the UK Government’s 2015 National Security Strategy.


Research Interests

  • International law governing the resort to force (the jus ad bellum)
  • International politics and strategy
  • Vagueness in international law
  • Factual uncertainty in military crises
  • Philosophy of international law
  • Socio-legal research methods