Dr. Suzannah Linton: Appointment as Chair of International Law at Bangor Law School

Dr. Suzannah Linton is the Chair of International Law at Bangor Law School and heads the International Law team.  She recently joined Bangor Law School from the University of Hong Kong and brings much practical and academic expertise in the field of International Law to her teaching.  She is a very active researcher, a prolific publisher in leading international peer-reviewed journals and is a partner in several major international academic collaborations.  At Bangor, Professor Linton will continue teaching Public International Law, and specialised areas within it, notably International Criminal Law, the International Law of Armed Conflict, and International Human Rights Law.  She will also be teaching a multidisciplinary course on Dealing with the Legacies of War and Repression.

To read more about Professor Linton, see below.

Professor Suzannah Linton is spearheading the establishment and direction of the Law School’s four new LLM programmes in International Law, and the School’s future research agenda in International Law. 

Professor Linton is very interested in International Law’s capacity to contribute towards creating Rule of Law internationally and closer to home.  She believes in the importance of a legal education that motivates and inspires, opens minds and broadens perspectives, as well as imparting skills and technical knowledge to enable students to make the most of their abilities and potential.  The law, including International Law, should be used for crafting more humane and compassionate societies.  Central themes of Professor Linton’s work, in practice and academically, have been the Rule of Law and Good Governance.   She has worked in several countries with courts, judges and justice systems, often in contexts of reconstruction after armed conflict or after regime change.  This has provided much inspiration for her research.  Professor Linton regularly publishes in the area of remedies arising from State and individual violations of International Law, the multidisciplinary area of dealing with the legacies of armed conflict and repression and on substantive issues within Public International Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law. Professor Linton was one of the first authors to write extensively about legal issues arising from the role of the United Nations in East Timor after 1999, and the internationalised domestic courts that started to appear around the world as mechanisms for processing international crimes in the period 1999-2004.  Her 2004 study of Reconciliation in Cambodia was one of the earliest works to focus on the views of Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge, and to argue for their perspectives to be taken into account in developing a coherent and comprehensive national strategy for social repair.  Professor Linton wrote the first substantive legal study of Indonesia’s difficult transition to Rule of Law in the 2006 Singapore Yearbook of International Law.  In 2010, she published the first study of Post Conflict Justice in Asia, focusing on 12 countries, from Afghanistan to South Korea, and how they dealt with legacies of past armed conflict or repression.  Also in 2010, Professor Linton pioneered the first substantive legal study of Bangladesh’s legislation for trying alleged perpetrators of international crimes from its war of independence from Pakistan in 1971, currently the basis of trials in Dhaka, in the Criminal Law Forum.

Several of Professor Linton's publications have been translated into different languages, and citations to her works appear in leading international law journals, scholarly books, litigation, judgements and United Nations reports.  In 2009, she was nominated by the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law for the University’s Outstanding Researcher Award, and the University’s Outstanding Supervisor Award (triggered by a nomination from her PhD and SJD students).  She was awarded the Faculty of Law’s Research Prize in 2009 for her article in the Human Rights Quarterly on reservations to human rights treaties.  Professor Linton’s PhD by way of publications in International Law was awarded by Bristol University in recognition of the original and substantial contribution that she made through her published work over a 10 year period.

Professor Linton brings to her research and teaching a rich background of practical experience of working with the United Nations and other international organisations, and international courts and tribunals around the world.  She has, for example, worked as a Judge’s Law Clerk at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a Human Rights Officer in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the OSCE, a Prosecutor at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in East Timor, and a consultant to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia.  Since 1999, her work has concentrated on Asia - she has been particularly closely engaged in Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal.  She will be continuing with this work from Bangor.

Prior to becoming an academic, Professor Linton was involved in field work during some of the major international crisis situations of recent years, for example the Balkans and East Timor.  She is also much drawn to utilising her skills to work on neglected human tragedies, as evidenced by her extensive field and academic work on East Timor, Indonesia, Cambodia and Bangladesh.  Her many publications have often been policy oriented, and have sought to bring international attention to then-ignored situations of impunity and abuse of victims, to improve situations of underperforming legal and judicial processes, and to resolve challenging and often highly contentious legal issues.  Professor Linton’s fascination with pioneering historic legal projects follows on from several formative and unforgettable experiences. For example, in 1998, she was fortunate to be able to participate in the work of the Swiss Claims Resolution Tribunal.  This tribunal was established in Zürich to deal with the problem of dormant bank accounts in Switzerland. Many accounts in Swiss banks, some holding substantial amounts, became dormant in the World War II era because of the German persecution of Jews across Europe and also because of the rise of the Iron Curtain dividing Europe after the War. The task of the tribunal was to arbitrate the matter of the ownership of these accounts.  As a staff attorney, Professor Linton worked on this historic and long-overdue process of returning to people what was rightfully theirs.  In East Timor from 2003-2004, during a consultancy with the East Timor Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Professor Linton provided specialist advice on International Law issues arising from the decolonisation, and then invasion and occupation, of East Timor from 1974-1999. She had the privilege of working directly on original court documents from the time of the Indonesian invasion and occupation of the territory, and was able to conduct a careful study of the notorious political trials arising out of the Santa Cruz massacre in Dili in 1991.  Professor Linton was also able to examine and analyse original Indonesian military documentation about this massacre, unearthed during the upheavals of 1999 as the Indonesian Army exited East Timor. Her work on reconstructing the creation, entrenchment and enforcement of a brutal regime of occupation was included in the Commission’s Final Report.

Consistent with this established pattern, one of the major projects that Professor Linton is currently working to complete is a book, commissioned by Oxford University Press, concerning the forgotten War Crimes trials that were held in Hong Kong from 1946 to 1948.  Professor Linton’s research work was funded by the Hong Kong government.  She worked in the National Archives at Kew and the Hong Kong Public Records Office to uncover relevant documents, interviewed survivors of World War II and created a database providing the global public with access to a forgotten legal process.  Professor Linton’s project generated extensive local interest in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland, and amongst the Chinese diaspora around the world.  It was widely reported in the media, has been the subject of a television documentary, and has already been relied on by the Appeals Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  Issues being covered in the book by contributing authors include Command Responsibility, Superior Orders, Modes of Responsibility, Procedure and War Crimes.  Her article, ‘Hong Kong’s War Crimes Trials 1946-1948’, will appear in the Melbourne Journal of International Law later this year.

Professor Linton is currently heavily engaged in organising a major international conference to be held in The Hague in the Netherlands at the end of October 2011. This conference will mark the end of three years of intensive research and writing to identify general principles and rules of international criminal procedure. Professor Linton has been a member of the project’s Steering Board leading some 50 top international criminal lawyers and academics, and is the Coordinator of a working group examining trial proceedings at international courts and tribunals. Oxford University Press will be publishing the product of this groundbreaking project, General Principles and Rules of International Criminal Procedure.  Students who are interested in the area of International Criminal Procedure Law should go to the website to find more information on registration. There will be free attendance for the first 75 students, as well as scholarships for PhD students from developing countries.

Professor Linton hopes to be able to continue exciting, important and cutting-edge work at Bangor.  She is loving Gwynedd and Ynys Môn, and has been deeply moved by the kindness, warmth, generosity and welcome she has experienced since arriving here.  She looks forward to resuming a healthy and balanced lifestyle and becoming fully integrated into the local community.  Professor Linton also very much looks forward to more engagement with the students of Bangor Law School in the coming weeks and months.  She will be teaching the International Law of Human Rights as part of the LLB Public Law course with Sarah Nason, and Public International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law and Legacies of War and Repression on the four new LLM programmes.

Publication date: 6 July 2011