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ESRC Collaborative PhD between Leeds POLIS & UNA UK - Application Deadline March 31st 2017

PhD Funding

Investigating Sexual Abuse and Exploitation by United Nations Peacekeepers: Establishing Accountability to address a legitimacy crisis at the United Nations.

Principal Supervisor: Adrian Gallagher, School Politics and International Studies
Tel No: 0113 3439202


Project Partner: The studentship is in collaboration with United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK).

Research Problem

On December 5 2016 the United Nations announced that it had completed its investigation into sexual abuse by UN Peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. Of the 139 victims identified so far, 25 are minors. The moral seriousness of this issue cannot be overstated as this is part of a broader historical trend. In December 2015, an independent report accused the UN of “gross institutional failure”, which caused the Head of UN Field Support to declare in March 2016 “we must not allow protectors to become predators”.

Research Focus

At present, the United Nations continues to implement the 40+ recommendations made by the former UN Secretary-General in his report on ‘Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse’. This was adopted by the UN General Assembly in May 2015. Against this backdrop, the PI has worked with the Head of Policy at UNA-UK (which is the UK’s leading source of independent analysis on the UN) to create three research questions

1. Why does sexual abuse by UN Peacekeepers persist despite the recommendations already developed?
2. What is the relationship between accountability, governance, and legitimacy within the UN?
3. What policy recommendations can be created to facilitate accountability among countries contributing troops to the UN?

Entry Requirements
• Minimum UK Upper Second Class Honours or equivalent in International Relations or a related field.
• An existing interest in the United Nations, Peacekeeping, The Responsibility to Protect, and Mass Violence.
• Excellent communication skills.
• A relevant Master’s degree will be an advantage.
• A knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods is desirable.

Application Process Contact

Jessica Lewis

Tel No: 0113 3438056
School Web Address:


How to Apply for an ESRC WRDTP Studentship at Leeds:

Applicants applying on both a 1+3 and a +3 basis should first of all apply for the relevant research postgraduate programme, and once in receipt of a Student ID Number, should then complete the research online application form available at:

It is important that you select the correct studentship type for which you wish to apply, as this will determine the fields you will be asked to complete.

After receipt of your studentship application, the relevant School will provide further advice on your suitability for either a 1+3 or +3 studentship and advise whether you are required to apply for a Masters study place for the MA Social Research (Interdisciplinary) programme.

Full awards will cover UK/EU academic fees and a tax-free maintenance grant paid at standard Research Council rates (£14,553 in Session 2017/18) for full-time study, together with other allowances if appropriate. EU applicants will be eligible for an award paying tuition fees only, except in exceptional circumstances, or where residency has been established for more than 3 years prior to the start of the course.