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Tom Sparks

LL.B, PhD (Dunelm), Senior Research Fellow
Tel. +49 (6221) 482-256

Main Fields of Research:

Public international law; Statehood, Sovereignty and Self-Determination; Creation of States; Legal Theory; International Environmental Law

Academic Career:

  • Since 2018: Senior Research Fellow at the MPIL
  • 2013-2017: University of Durham, Ph.D. awarded without corrections (highest classification); Thesis title: Towards a Human-Centered International Law: Self-Determination and the Structure of the International Legal System.  European Research Council Studentship.
  • 2010-2013: University of Durham, Bachelor of Laws with Honours, First Class.

Recent Publications

  • The State. In: Concepts for International Law: Contributions to Disciplinary Thought, Jean d'Aspremont, Sahib Singh (eds.). Edward Elgar, Cheltenham 2019. Publisher's website
  • Statehood in an Era of Sinking Islands. In: Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice, Tahseen Jafry (ed.). Routledge, Abingdon 2019, 83-99. Publisher's website
  • The Protection of Animals through Human Rights. The Case-Law of the European Court of Human Rights. In: Global Animal Law, Anne Peters (ed.). Springer, Heidelberg 2019, forthcoming. SSRN



17 Jul 2017 - 21 Jul 2017

Whose Claim, to What Right? A Taxonomy of the Self-Determination Genus

XXVIII IVR World Congress


17 Jul 2017 - 21 Jul 2017

Beetles in Boxes and Rubies Called Blue: The Semiotics of the International Legal Concept of "State"

XXVIII IVR World Congress


08 Mar 2017

An Imponderable Future? Post-Brexit Scotland, IndyRef2, and the European Treaties

International Law Seminar Series

University of Edinburgh

05 Apr 2015 - 07 Apr 2015

Who Owns the State? Secession and Self-Determination after Kosovo

Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference


02 Dec 2014

"He who trusts to hope builds upon thin ice": Sovereignty and the Uncertain Foundations of International Order

Global Policy Institute Seminar Series



Summer term 2018

Heidelberg International Law Colloquium: The State in International Law: Creation, Destruction, Deconstruction

Summer Term 2019

Heidelberg International Law Colloquium: Introduction to Climate Law


  • 2018: Winner, Global Policy North Research Network thesis prize for the dissertation "Towards a Human-Centered International Law" (Durham University, 2017)


 Research Funding

  • 2013-2017: European Research Council PhD Studentship (£13726 pa)