sjb-bio-pic-medUniversity of Geneva

Global Studies Institute
Sciences II
Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30
CH – 1211 Genève 4
CH-1205 Geneva

Steven J. BARELA is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Studies Institute and a member of the law faculty at the University of Geneva. He has taught at the Korbel School of International Studies at Denver University, and lectured for l’Université Laval (Québec), Sciences Po Bordeaux, UCLA and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.

He began his university education of Spanish language, literature and culture in the United States, leading him to study in Madrid and Valladolid, Spain. Next, his scholastic career continued in Paris, France (French language, art and culture), Albuquerque, New Mexico (Latin American Studies) and Mexico D.F., Mexico (Spanish language, art and literature).

After becoming trilingual, he enriched this initial education with studies in international relations and political philosophy at the University of Denver; bringing him to Geneva where he obtained his third masters (LL.M.) in the field of international humanitarian law and human rights, and finally completed a Ph.D. in law with the highest distinction, “mention très bien” (equivalent to summa cum laude).



Language Skills

English: mother tongue, Spanish: fluent, French: fluent



March 2012 Ph.D. Degree in Law, “Mention très bien” highest distinction (equivalent to summa cum laude) Faculty of Law, University of Geneva, International Law & Political and Legal Philosophy
May 2009 LL.M. Degree – Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, University of Geneva & Graduate Institute of Int’l Studies
August 2005 M.A. Degree in International StudiesGraduate School of Int’l Studies, University of Denver2004-5 – Study Abroad at Faculty of Law, University of Geneva, Switzerland
May 1998 M.A. Degree in Latin American History and Literature – Latin American and Iberian Institute, University of New Mexico1995 – Study Abroad at the Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico D.F.
August 1994 Bachelors Degree in Spanish Language & Literature – Iowa State University1993-1994 – Study Abroad at the British Institute of Paris, France1991-1992 – Study Abroad at the University of Valladolid, Spain1991 – Independent Study Abroad in Madrid, Spain



2013-Current Assistant Professor, Global Studies Institute/Faculty of Law, University of Geneva

Series Editor for “Emerging Technologies, Ethics and International Affairs” at Ashgate Publishing

2012-2013 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of GenevaCoordinator for Geneva-Harvard-Renmin-Sydney Conference, January 2013
2008-2011 Doctoral Assistant, Department of the History of Law and of Legal and Political Doctrines, University of Geneva
2005-2008 Research Assistant, University Forum 2005-8: “Democracy and Terrorism”, University of Geneva
1996-2005 United Airlines – Spanish and French qualified Flight Attendant, Customer Service Representative and Baggage Handler


Selected Publications


(Editor) Legitimacy and Drones: Investigating the Legality, Morality and Efficacy of UCAVs (Ashgate, 2015).

(Monograph) International Law, New Diplomacy and Counterterrorism: An Interdisciplinary Study of Legitimacy (Routledge, 2014).

Articles and Chapters

The Precision of Drones: Problems with the New Data and Claims on Civilian Casualties”, with A. Plaw, E-International Relations (August 23, 2016).

“The Question of ‘Imminence’: A Historical View on Anticipatory Attacks” in Legitimacy and Drones (Ashgate, 2015).

“Strategic Efficacy: The Opinion of Security and a Dearth of Data” in Legitimacy and Drones (Ashgate, 2015).

“The U.S. Torture Memos and Democracy” (2016, No. 6) Geneva Hub for Democracy, Highlights.

“Judicially Moderated Dialogue and the ‘War on Terror’” in L.Hennebel and H.Tigroudja (eds.), Balancing Liberty and Security: The Human Rights Pendulum (Wolf Legal Publishing, 2012).

“Preemptive or Preventive War: A Discussion of Legal and Moral Standards” (Winter 2004) 33, 1 Denver Journal of International Law and Policy 31.

Blog Posts and Book Reviews

E-International Relations Post, “Obama’s Bulwark against Torture: Will It Stop Trump?” (March 15, 2017); reposted at CommonDreams.com.

Just Security Blog Post, “Campaign Promises of War Crimes: Now a Stain on the Military” with Amos Guiora (February 6, 2017)

Just Security Deep Dive Blog Post, “Cross-Border Cyber Ops to Erode Legitimacy: An Act of Coercion” (January 12, 2017).

Just Security Featured Post, “Are Drones Less Accurate than Piloted Aircraft?” with A. Plaw, (October 3, 2016).

Just Security Featured Post, “The New US Anti-Torture Law: A Genuine Step Forward” (February 12, 2016).

Invited Review of J.D. Ohlin, K. Govern, and C. Finkelstein, Cyber War: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts in (2016) 1 of 2, Journal of International Criminal Justice.

Just Security Blog Post, “The Imperative of a ‘Drone Court’” (October 28, 2015).

Just Security Guest Post, “Drone Courts–A Response to Professor Vladeck” with A. Guiora and J. Brand, Just Security (December 16, 2014).

“Justice, Peace and Jus Post Bellum” with A. Keller,  Book Review of L. May, After War Ends: A Philosophical Perspective; D. Philpott, Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation; and E. Patterson (ed.), Ethics Beyond War’s End in (Summer 2014) 7, 1 Amsterdam Law Forum.

Invited Review of C. Finkelstein, J.D. Ohlin, A. Altman (eds.), Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World in (2013) 11, 1 Journal of International Criminal Justice.


Editorial Assistance

2005 – 2008

Assistant Editor to A. Bianchi and A. Keller (eds.) Counterterrorism: Democracy’s Challenge (Hart Publishing, 2008).

 2004 – 2005

Research Assistant to A. Keller and P. Allan (eds.) What is a Just Peace? (Oxford University Press, 2006).


Research and Teaching Topics

Technology and Security, Asymmetrical Conflict, Unmanned  Combat Air Vehicles, Cyber Warfare, Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Legitimacy, Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law, Use of Force in Int’l Law, Interdisciplinarity, Habeas Corpus, Just War, Torture, Political Violence and Non-Violence, Latin American History and Literature


Organizing & Coordinating International Conferences

April 2016 Lead Organizer – Launch Event, Legitimacy and Drones: Cross-Border Counterterrorism with UCAVs

Eight invitees, two international

Sponsors: 1) La Société Académique de Genève; 2) University of Geneva;      3) Faculty of Law; 4) Global Studies Institute; 5) Geneva Academia of Int’l Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Jan 2013

Lead Coordinator – Three-day Law Faculty Conference of Universities of Geneva, Harvard, Renmin (Beijing) and Sydney – On Property Law

27 invitees, 19 international

Sponsors: Latsis Foundation; Hanban (Chinese Cultural Teaching)

Nov 2006 Junior Coordinator – Three-day Conference on Democracy, Separation of Powers and the Fight against Terrorism

22 invitees, 17 international

Sponsors: La Société Académique de Genève; the Graduate Institute (Geneva)

Conference proceedings led to the publication: A. Bianchi and A. Keller (eds.), Counterterrorism: Democracy’s Challenge (Hart Publishing, 2008).


Awards and Honors


Ph.D. Degree in Law, “Mention très bien” highest distinction (equivalent to summa cum laude)Faculty of Law, University of Geneva International Law & Political and Legal Philosophy


Hans Wilsdorf Foundation Full Scholarship for the LL.M. degree at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights


United Nations International Law Seminar – Selected as the only U.S. participant of 24 worldwide attendees


Full Academic Scholarship – Graduate School of International Studies, Denver University


Master’s Thesis, Latin American Studies – One Hundred Years to Sovereignty, Recognized with Distinction, University of New Mexico


George Washington Carver Full Academic Scholarship – Iowa State University


University of Geneva, Global Studies Institute