Leila is a Research Associate at the Centre for Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford and a Lecturer in Law at Queen Mary University of London. Previously, she was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Criminology at Oxford and she is now continuing her BA fellowship at Queen Mary. Her postdoctoral research examines the interplay between terrorism, counter-terrorism and gender through a comparative case study of the United Kingdom, Kenya and Lebanon. Before starting her postdoctoral research, she worked as social stability adviser at UNDP in Lebanon. In this capacity she conceptualized, secured funding for and managed an Innovation Project ‘Speak your Mind to Prevent Conflict in Lebanon’, a whatsapp-based survey of Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities to better understand local conflict dynamics and needs. In December 2016, she finished her doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford which explored the interpretation, use and practice of ‘justice for victims’ and ‘gender justice’ at the International Criminal Court. In addition to her research, Leila was the Convenor of the Oxford Transitional Justice Research (OTJR) network and worked for the International Criminal Court. Her teaching interests include international criminal justice, restorative justice, security and terrorism studies, gender studies and victimology.

For more information about her British Academy Postdoctoral Project, 'Mind the Gap: Exploring the Interplay between Gender, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism', please visit the project's website.

Leila can be reached under


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  • L Ullrich, Below the Surface: Results of a WhatsApp Survey of Syrian Refugees and Host Communities in Lebanon (UNDP Research Report 2019)
    Seven years into the Syrian crisis and with almost a million Syrian refugees residing in Lebanon, a country of six million inhabitants, questions abound: ‘how are the relationships between host communities and refugees evolving?’, ‘what are the needs on the ground?’ and ‘how do Lebanese and Syrians see the future?’. To get to the bottom of these questions, in 2017 and 2018, UNDP Lebanon piloted two qualitative WhatsApp surveys in the Bekaa region to learn more about the perspectives, needs, conflicts and fears of Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities. This report analyses the surveys’ findings and reflects on how WhatsApp surveying can support humanitarian and development work in Lebanon and beyond. WhatsApp is an effective tool for qualitative surveying for two reasons. First, WhatsApp is very popular and widely used, including among refugees. In Lebanon, for example, 84% of refugee households use WhatsApp1 . Second, WhatsApp has the voice message function which allowed us to send survey questions as voice messages and collect people’s stories directly including from people who are illiterate. 1036 people participated in our WhatsApp surveys in Lebanon (794 in Bar Elias and 242 in Qaraoun), sending us their stories as voice or text messages. Unlike other qualitative methods, WhatsApp surveying relies less on local gatekeepers, thus creating a direct link between international organisations and people on the ground. In the privacy of their homes and using a form of communication that is habitual and convenient, many Syrians and Lebanese were willing to share their ideas and perspectives.
  • L Ullrich, 'But what about Men? Gender Disquiet in International Criminal Justice' (2019) Theoretical Criminology
    This article explores the everyday remaking of patriarchy in international criminal justice. Drawing on 63 interviews at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and in Uganda, it argues that a gender backlash has been fomenting in international criminal justice, as practitioners express their disquiet about the ‘ubiquitous gender discourse’. They claim that the Court’s ‘gender agenda’ is in no small part driven from ‘outside’ and lament that it neglects the rape of men. The article traces how patriarchal norms are refashioned in international criminal justice by playing into legal sensibilities that see procedure rather than substantive change as the essence of (criminal) law. Ultimately, the article shows how attempts to foreground victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in international criminal justice first failed to include men, and now, in a belated effort to rectify their omission, construct their competitive victimhood in ways that reinforce rather than challenge patriarchal norms.
  • L Ullrich, 'Speak up via WhatsApp-Understanding the Life Worlds of Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon' (UNDP Research Report 2018)
    This report presents the findings of a WhatsApp survey about the life worlds of Syrian refugees and host communities conducted in Qaraoun (West Bekaa) in November 2017. The survey is at the core of an Innovation Project ‘Speak your Mind to Prevent Conflict in Lebanon’, funded by the UNDP innovation facility. The rationale of the WhatsApp survey was two-fold. First, to test the feasibility of using WhatsApp as an interactive survey tool which enhances local engagement of the crisis response in Lebanon. Second, to enrich our understanding of local conflict dynamics and the impact of assistance by collecting narrative data from both host community members and refugees.
  • L Ullrich, 'Book Review of Nicola Palmer, Courts in Conflict: Interpreting the Layers of Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda (OUP, 2015)' (2018) Journal of International Criminal Justice [Review]
    Transitional justice has become a crowded space. International courts, domestic courts, truth commissions and traditional justice rituals have all become ‘go-to’ transitional justice mechanisms that are unleashed whenever mass violence happens, whether there is a political transition or not. They often simultaneously deal with the same conflict, vying for limited resources and public attention. Yet, how do these different mechanisms relate to each other in practice? Do they cooperate or compete? And how are their objectives understood both by the people who work in these institutions and by those who are subjected to their overlapping authorities? Nicola Palmer’s book addresses these questions with respect to an early case of ‘holism’— Rwanda, where the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), domestic courts and the local gacaca courts have worked concurrently.
  • L Ullrich, 'Beyond the ‘Global–Local Divide’: Local Intermediaries, Victims and the Justice Contestations of the International Criminal Court' (2016) 14 Journal of International Criminal Justice 543
    This article examines the role of a new category of actors in the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) justice process, so-called ‘local intermediaries’, who have largely been ignored in the research on the Court’s work. Intermediaries are diverse actors, from community leaders to grassroots organizations, who help the Court with evidence collection and victims’ engagement in situation countries. While much controversy surrounds the ICC’s engagement with intermediaries, there is a shared analytical framework for making sense of this relationship: the ‘global–local divide’. While many scholars advocate for a combination or even integration of ‘global’ and ‘local’ justice processes, the premise that the important misunderstandings and contestations in international criminal justice happen between the ‘global Court’ and ‘local communities’ is hardly put in doubt. Drawing on fieldwork at the ICC in The Hague, in Kenya and in Uganda, I will argue that the global v. local framework obscures more than it illuminates about the Court’s victims' engagement through intermediaries. By developing a theory of interactional justice, the article will show that some of the most important justice contestations happen within the ICC and in the field rather than between the ‘global Court’ and ‘local communities’. In fact, the ICC’s internal contradictions, rather than the much vaunted ‘mischievousness’ of intermediaries, explain much of the Court’s ambiguous victims’ engagement. Ultimately, the article aims to close the empirical gap in research on ICC intermediaries by releasing them from the analytical confines of the global v. local conceptual framework.
  • L Ullrich, 'Doing Gender Justice in Northern Uganda' (2015) Open Democracy
    The efforts of NGOs and international organisations to gradually nudge post-war northern Uganda towards a ‘gender just society’ ignore the fact that gender equality also has real enemies.
  • L Ullrich, Transitional Justice Methods Manual (swisspeace 2013)


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Research Interests

Transitional Justice, International Criminal Justice, Criminology, Victimology, Human Rights, International Relations, Law and Society, Global Civil Society

Research projects