Mr Ben Willis

Mr Ben Willis

Associate Lecturer

School of Society and Culture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)



I am an Associate Lecturer in Politics and International Relations here at the University of Plymouth. My work is broadly concerned with the range of political, legal, and ethical issues surrounding the prevention of mass atrocities – genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity – and includes a particular focus on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP), the UN human rights system, and international criminal justice mechanisms. I am also currently finishing a PhD with the European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at the University of Leeds.

There are two main strands to my current research. The first is the subject of ongoing doctoral work, and explores the use of RtoP to address the commission of peacetime atrocity crimes in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) since 2005. The other strand of research builds on previous work in the NGO sector, and examines how UK atrocity prevention policy is integrated across its various early warning, development, defence, and diplomatic activities.

I am always happy to discuss both academic and policy-oriented research and collaboration and can be reached via the contact details above.


  • PhD International Politics, University of Leeds, 2016-ongoing
  • MA International Relations (Distinction), University of Plymouth, 2012-2013
  • BSc (Hons) International Relations (First Class), University of Plymouth, 2009-2012

Professional membership

  • European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (ECR2P)
  • British International Studies Association (BISA)
  • Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS)
  • International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS)



Teaching interests

For academic year 2021-2022, I am teaching on the following modules:

  • Stage 1 - International Relations Since 1945 (IRL102): This module provides an introduction to the historical development of the international political system since the end of the Second World War and offers essential background to the major processes and actors that have shaped the contemporary international order.
  • Stage 2 - Politics of European Integration (POL204, joint module lead): This module introduces students to the development and structure of the EU, including its role in wider European politics and political economy. Each of these themes are examined within the context of theories of integration, and the challenges presented to traditional notions of democracy by supranational institutions such as the EU.
  • Stage 3 - Europe in the World (PIR307): This module takes an holistic look at the EU’s role in world politics and the link between its economic and political presence, as well as analysing the role of individual European states (both those inside and outside the EU). Alongside the policies and strategies of European actors vis-à-vis Russia, the US, China and countries of the Middle East and Africa, it also cover these states’ positions towards Europe and the European Union.



Research interests

  • Mass atrocity prevention
  • The Responsibility to Protect
  • North Korean human rights
  • UK and EU foreign policy
  • Constructivist and English School IR theory



Internet Publications

Other Publications

Parliamentary evidence

  • Willis, B. 2022. Written evidence submitted to the International Development Committee inquiry on 'Promoting Dialogue and Preventing Atrocities: The UK Government Approach'. DPA0008. February 2022.
  • Willis, B. 2020. Written evidence submitted to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea ‘Inquiry into Human Rights Violations, 2014-2020’. December 2020.
  • Willis, B. 2020. Written evidence submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry on ‘Xinjiang Detention Camps’. XIN0040. November 2020.
  • Willis, B. 2020. Written evidence submitted to the Cabinet Office consultation on the Integrated Review. August 2020.
  • Willis, B. 2020. Written evidence submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry on ‘The FCDO and the Integrated Review’. INR0020. May 2020.
  • Ferguson, K. and Willis, B. 2018. Written evidence submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry on ‘The Responsibility to Protect and Humanitarian Intervention’. RTP0002. June 2018.

    Book reviews

    • Willis, B. 2019. Reappraising European IR Theoretical Traditions. Global Affairs. 5(1), pp.96-98.
    • Willis, B. 2017. The Oxford Handbook of the Responsibility to Protect. Global Affairs. 3(2), pp.182-184.

    Policy papers

    • Ferguson, K., Willis, B., and Lucas, H. 2019. Europe’s Prevention Crisis: How Can Civil Society Respond? Protection Approaches. 23 October 2019.
    • Ferguson, K. and Willis, B. 2018. Towards a National Approach to Atrocities: A Response to Growing Scrutiny. Protection Approaches. 14 May 2018.
    • Ferguson, K. and Willis, B. 2018. Atrocity Prevention and UK Policy: RUSI Event Outcome Document. Protection Approaches. January 2018.
    • Ferguson, K., Willis, B. and Hiles, M. 2017. Protecting Populations from Identity-Based Violence: A Review of the 2017 General Election Manifestos. Protection Approaches. 31 May 2017.
    • Ferguson, K. and Willis, B. 2017. Maintaining Momentum in a Changing World: Atrocity Prevention in UK Policy. Protection Approaches. 8 May 2017.