Ali Watson, Professor


Since 1993, Ali Watson has been a Professor of International Relations at the University of St Andrews. She is also the Executive Director and, along with Bennett Collins, a co-founder of the Third Generation Project, a think tank in the School of International Relations dedicated to advancing collective human rights.

A trained economist, she has published heavily on the positionality and role of children in international relations and the international political economy.

Today, her research and teaching centre around activism and resistance in International Relations, critiques of the liberal peace, and (neo)colonialism and oppression of non-Western spaces and peoples.

Specifically, her research has focused on:

  • the crimes of the settler colonial state against Indigenous peoples in North America, and the ongoing resistance of Indigenous peoples there to ongoing (neo)colonialism
  • land grabbing and state sponsored violence towards agro-pastoralist groups in East Africa
  • violations of collective human rights in response to climate change politics.

Research areas

Professor Watson's research is grounded in social justice and human rights discourse. Her primary research interest lies in examining grassroots perspectives and marginalised actors within the international system, and in particular in considering how their incorporation into the IR discourse may change the questions raised within the discipline itself, as well as in its sub-fields. This has included a body of work on the place of children and youth in the international system and an ongoing examination into questions of rights and agency.

Alongside Bennett Collins, she has acted as a principle investigator on several projects that have at the heart of them a critique of the neoliberal international system and the oppressive structures of power, which includes imperial and settler colonial states. Her research interests include:

  • peace studies
  • postcolonial theory
  • transnational social movements
  • climate change politics
  • crimes of multinational and state entities
  • critiques of the liberal peace and ‘the local’ rights of Indigenous peoples in North America and East Africa
  • restorative and reconciliation processes.

Her own research approach calls for academia to become more open to engaging with practitioner and activist communities, and also for social scientists to adopt more collaborative and less extractive research methodologies. Professor Watson welcomes PhD candidates who share this ethos.

To date, she has received grants from the following funding bodies for her research:

  • Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
  • British International Studies Association
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Russel Trust
  • British Academy.



  • ‘From Doctrine to Declaration’ Workshop report, edited with Bennett Collins, pp50, (University of St Andrews).
  • ‘Moving Forward in the Eastern DRC, Special Issue: Peacebuilding, edited with Bennett Collins, 2014.
  • ‘Childhood, Youth and Violence in Global Contexts, Research and Practice in Dialogue, edited with Karen Wells, Erica Burman and Heather Montgomery, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
  • ‘The Child in International Political Economy: A Place at the Table, Routledge, 2008.
  • ‘Cultures and Politics in Global Communication, Special Issue; Review of International Studies, edited with Costas Constantinou and Oliver P. Richmond, 2006.
  • ‘Introduction to International Political Economy, Continuum, 2004.
  • ‘Aspects of European Monetary Integration, Macmillan/St Martins Press, 1997.


  • Protecting the Seas to Save the Land: The Fight Against the Fossil Fuel Industry in the Gulf and its Implications for the Nation’, with Bennett Collins, Intercontinental Cry.
  • ‘Resilience is its own resistance: the place of children in post-conflict settlement', Critical Studies on Security, 2015.
  • Climate Change Justice: No Matter the Outcome of COP21, Counterterrorism Legislation Will Continue to Silence Frontline Environmental Defenders’, with Bennett Collins, Intercontinental Cry, reposted on Truthout.
  • Why the Pope has yet to overturn the church’s colonial legacy’, with Bennett Collins, The Conversation.
  • Examining the Potential for an American Truth and Reconciliation Commission', with Bennett Collins, Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs, February  a. (reprinted in Pax in Nuce).
  • ‘Navigating the red line for the eastern Congo, Peacebuilding, 2014.
  • ‘Could there be such a thing as a kindered peace?’ Ethics and International Affairs, Volume 22.1, Spring, 2008.
  • 'Children Born of Wartime Rape: Rights and Representations', International Feminist Journal of Politics, Volume 9, 1, March, 2007, 20-34. 
  • 'Children and International Relations: A New Site of Knowledge?’, Review of International Studies, April, 32, 2006, 237-250.
  • 'Saving More than the Children: the role of child-focussed NGO’s in the creation of Southern security norms’, Third World Quarterly, Volume 27, Number 2, March, 2006, 227-237.
  • 'Economic and Monetary Union: Of Currencies and Clubs', Journal of European Integration, volume 26, No. 1, March, 2004, 47-61. 
  • 'Seen But Not Heard: The Role of the Child in IPE', New Political Economy, Volume 9, Number 1, March, 2004, 3-21.
  • 'The Child That Bombs Built’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Volume 27, No. 3, 2004, 159-168.
  • 'The European Union and Japan: Destination Unknown?', Current Politics and Economics of Europe, 8, 3, 1998.
  • 'The Politics of Exchange Rates: Domestic Politics and International Exchange', Review of International Political Economy, Review of International Political Economy, 4, Winter, 1997.

Book chapters

  • ‘Children and Peace', with Bennett Collins, in Oliver Richmond, Sandra Pogodda and Jasmin Ramovic (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Disciplinary and Regional Approaches to Peace, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • ‘Constructing the Wabanaki TRC: Perceptions and Understandings’, with Bennett Collins and Siobhan McEvoy-Levy, in W. Littlechild and E. Stamatopoulou (eds.), Access of Indigenous Peoples to Justice, including Truth and Reconciliation Processes, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University.
  • ‘Guardians of the Peace’?” The Significance of Children to Continued Militarism’, in, The Militarization of Childhood, Thinking Beyond the Global South, edited by J. Marshall Beier, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  • 'Agency and the Everyday Activist’, in Hybrid Forms of Peace From Everyday Agency to Post-Liberalism, edited by Oliver P. Richmond and Audra Mitchell, Palgrave, 2011.
  • 'Children and Post-Conflict Security Governance', European Security Governance: The European Union in a Westphalian World, edited by Charlotte Wagnsson, James A. Sprerling, Jan Hallenberg, Routledge, 2009, 114-126.
  • 'Children’s Human Rights and the Politics of Childhood’, The Ashgate Research Companion to Ethics and International Relations, edited by P Hayden, Ashgate, 2009, 247-260.
  • 'Too Many Children Left Behind: The Inadequacy of Human Rights Law Vis-a-Vis the Child', Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Volume 12, Structural, Historical and Comparative Perspectives, edited by Jens Qvortup, 2009, 249-271.
  • 'Gender and Other ‘Others’’, in Mark Imber and Trevor C. Salmon (eds.) Issues in International Relations, Routledge, 2008.



  • Gender and Generation (IR3113)
  • Activism and Resistance (IR4543)

Professor Watson also teaches the BMsc International Health programme in the School of Medicine, University of Dundee.

Research students

Joint supervisor

  • Claire Birnie

PhD supervision topics

Topics include:

  • children and their childhoods
  • collective rights
  • peace and conflict studies
  • environmental justice
  • climate change.