Miriam Bak Mckenna

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research areas and keywords


  • International Law


In terms of substance, the broad theme connecting the various strands of my work until now has been the space outside of traditional, doctrinal understandings of international law and legal history, and the manner in which the global legal order has been imagined and actualised by various legal actors on a local, regional and international level. 

My doctrinal project sought to provide a new, interdisciplinary perspective on the history of self-determination and its complicated and pivotal impact on the development of international law over the past centuries. Drawing on broader political, socio-legal and critical approaches to law it focussed on the  multiple interpretive and normative visions of self-determination which exist in international law. I drew particular attention to the manner in which the polysemy and indeterminacy of self-determination as a legal idea has provided a unique juridical space in which groups may either challenge or affirm the limitations of the existing normative basis of law, enabling critical moments of encounter between previously excluded claimants and established legal orders. 

My current research explores the emergent field of comparative international law. The project aims to uncover the theoretical and methodological framework by which comparative law could be integrated into an examination of international law, specifically the increasingly hybridised relationship between national and international courts. In place of one traditional understanding of international law as a hermeneutic entity, reliant on the traditional law creation/enforcement hierarchy in the understanding of the relationship between national and international (and regional) courts, this project posits that both national and international courts have a significant role in the creation, interpretation and enforcement of international law, leading to a hybridization of national and international law. This increasing scope for interaction presents the perfect opportunity to explore the application of comparative international law as a prism of analysis for these relationships (namely, the courts as laboratories of comparative law and inter-institutional dialogue) and related processes (including the explication of common and general principles and facilitation of transfer/reception/recognition and dialogue) by which national jurisprudence is received in international tribunals, and by which national courts receive international decisions in the context of international law norm-formation, interpretation and application, and its impact upon the international legal order.


Areas of Interest

  • Legal History
  • Legal and political theory
  • Comparative International Law
  • Feminist, queer, and critical race theory
  • Postcolonial legal studies
  • Law and aesthetics


  • Public International Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • International Law and its Histories 
  • LLM Supervision 

Professional work

Miriam studied law at the University of Western Australia (LLB, 2009) and the University of Copenhagen (LLM, Distinction, 2011) and has a Ph.D. in International Law from the University of Copenhagen (2015), where she was a member of icourts, the Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Excellence for International Courts. She also studied Art History and English at the University of Western Australia (BA, 2009). Prior to starting as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law at Lund University, she was a lecturer and research fellow at the University of Copenhagen. During the course of her doctoral research, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Lauterpacht Centre at Cambridge University and at the University of Toronto. Her research interests are in the areas of international law, particularly international legal history, legal theory and methodology (with a focus on general principles and comparative aw in international courts). She has worked in these fields as a researcher for a number of organisations, including the UNODC and the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, and has taught international law, EU and international human rights law at the Univeristy of Copenhagen and Murdoch University. After finishing her PhD in 2015 she took two periods of maternity leave in 2015/2016 and again in 2016/2017. She returns to Lund University in Autumn 2017. 


Recent research outputs

Miriam Bak Mckenna 2017 Dec 17 Sydsvenkan

Research output: Contribution to specialist publication or newspaperNewspaper article

Miriam Bak Mckenna 2017 Oct 24 The Conversation

Research output: Contribution to specialist publication or newspaperSpecialist publication article

Miriam Mckenna 2017 Sep 26

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/site

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