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Vasuki Nesiah

Professor of Practice
(212) 998-9151
1 Wash Pl, Room 708

Office Hours
Tuesday By Appt and 10:45-12:15
Wednesday 2-6 Remote by Appt.
Thursday 2-4 Remote by Appt.

B.A., Philosophy, Cornell University, 1990
J.D., Harvard Law School, 1993
S.J.D., Harvard Law School, 2000

Vasuki Nesiah is a legal scholar with a focus on public international law. Her main areas of research include the law and politics of international human rights and humanitarianism, with a particular focus on transitional justice. She has published widely on the history and politics of human rights, humanitarianism, international criminal law, international feminisms and colonial legal history. These continue to be areas of research and writing but the primary focus of her current research is reparations. A volume which she co-edited with Luis Eslava and Michael Fakhri, A Global History of Bandung and Critical Traditions in International Law will be published by Cambridge University Press later this year. This work reflects her continued interest in critical approaches to international law that find their intellectual and political home in the global south and in the grappling with decolonization. She is one of the founding members of the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and has continued as an active participant in this global network of scholars for over two decades.   Nesiah teaches human rights, law and social theory, and the politics of war and memory at NYU. She also continues as core faculty in Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP); In this capacity she has taught for six years in the IGLP summer and winter workshops in Cambridge, Doha, Capetown, Madrid and Bangkok. Currently, she is also a Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School where she taught a course on human rights, gender and development in a visiting capacity.   Prior to joining Gallatin, Professor Nesiah taught in the International Relations and Gender Studies concentrations at Brown University where she also served as Director of International Affairs. Formerly, she taught at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She serves on the international editorial committees of the journals Feminist Legal Studies and the London Review of International Law and on the International Advisory Board of the Institute of International Law and the Humanities at the University of Melbourne; she is also an Associate Fellow with the Asia Society in New York. Before entering the academy full time, Professor Nesiah spent over seven years in practice at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), where she worked on law and policy issues in the field of post-conflict human rights for over seven years.   Originally from Sri Lanka, she earned her BA in Philosophy and Government at Cornell University, was a visiting student in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Oxford University, and earned her JD and SJD, an interdisciplinary doctorate in public international law, at Harvard Law School. She was awarded a fellowship for a post-doctoral program in human rights at Columbia Law School. Professor Nesiah's publications can be accessed at       

Awards & Honors


Nesiah Recieves MLK Jr. Award

Vasuki Nesiah was awarded a 2020 New York University Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award, an award that recognizes outstanding NYU faculty who exemplify the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through teaching excellence, leadership, social justice activism, and community building.

Edited Volumes


Vasuki Nesiah, Luis Eslava, and Michael Fakhri's Bandung, Global History, and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures

Bandung, Global History, and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures, edited by Vasuki Nesiah, Luis Eslava, and Michael Fakhri was published by Cambridge University Press.

Teaching and Research Interests

international legal studies; human rights and humanitarianism; politics of memory and transitional justice; law, culture and society; law and politics of violence; critical social theory; colonialism and postcolonial modernities; feminisms; globalization; development policy; jurisprudence of identity; South Asia  

Recent News


In December 2017, Professor Vasuki Nesiah gave the keynote lecture at the 2017 Conference of the Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia: Dissents and Disposition, Melbourne, Australia and the keynote lecture for the 2017 Legal Sciences Conference of Finland in Turku, Finland, in August 2017.

In January 2017, Professor Vasuki Nesiah collaborated with Anthony Anghie of National University of Singapore, convening a Workshop on Third World Approaches to International Law, University of Colombo Law Faculty, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Her co-edited volume, Bandung, Global History and International Law was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.

Other recent publications include the short article:

“Human Shields/Human Crosshairs: Colonial Legacies and Contemporary Wars," for American Journal of International Law Unbound, Volume 110 (2017).

and the following book chapters:

“The Politics of Humanitarian Morality: Reflections on ‘The Hazards of Rescue’” in Human Rights: Moral or Political?, edited by Adam Etinson (Oxford University Press, 2018)

"Indebted: The Cruel Optimism of Leaning-in to Empowerment” in Governance Feminisms, edited by Janet Halley et al (University of Minnesota Press, 2018)

“The Escher Human Rights Elevator: Technologies of the Local” in Sally Merry and Tine Destrooper eds., Human Rights Transformation in an Unequal World, edited by Sally Merry and Tine Destrooper (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018)

“Gender and Forms of Conflict: The Moral Hazards of Dating the Security Council” in Oxford Handbook on Gender and Conflict, edited by Fionnuala Ni Aolain, Naomi Cahn, Nahla Valji and Dina Haynes (Oxford University Press, 2017)

“‘Saviors, Victims and Savages on the Post-Conflict Circuit: The Field of Transitional Justice” in Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka, edited by Bhavani Fonseka (Center for Policy Alternatives, 2017)


Vasuki Nesiah