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Dr David Scott

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr David M Scott is a Postdoctoral Researcher in International Law & Governance, working between the Glasgow Centre for International Law and Security and the Scottish Council on Global Affairs at the University of Glasgow. Dr Scott is also the Director for International Law Mooting within GCILS, coaching our Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court team, and a member of the Working Group for the Glasgow Human Rights Network, a network of academics and practitioners in Glasgow who study and work to protect human rights in Scotland and beyond.

His current research covers several topics:

•The history and theory of international law, particularly critical approaches to international law
•International legal temporality, historiography, and theories of historical time
•Economic, social, and cultural rights and their impact on third sector engagement with policy-making
•The domestication of international human rights law in Scotland
•Methods of moot court teaching

His work is divided into three research strands. Across one strand, Dr Scott maintains an interest in the theory and critique of international law, in particular the turn to international legal history over the past two decades. His doctoral research theorised the turn to history as part of a wider ‘turn to time’ in contemporary international legal argument, and he is currently preparing publications on the different ways in which the past is used to intervene in current arguments within international law. Dr Scott hopes to develop this research into a wider project on competing international legal times within contemporary international law. More broadly, he is interested in developing international legal historiography through analysis of the temporality of international legal arguments, in line with the work of German historian Reinhart Koselleck.

The second strand of his research covers the practical uses and limitations of international law and human rights for activists and civil society to effect change. From 2020 to 2022, Dr Scott worked as a Policy Officer for Citizens Advice Scotland, where he led the organisation’s campaigns and research on Universal Credit. At the University of Glasgow, he has developed this policy work into a project on the Scottish Human Rights Bill and the domestication of international human rights into Scots law, where he has sought to engage with the third sector on the impact of the Bill for Scottish Government policy-making. As part of this project, Dr Scott carried out consultancy work for the Human Rights Consortium Scotland and Who Cares? Scotland on the protection of Care Experienced people’s rights, as well as engaging with the Scottish Government on the development of the Bill and carrying out media activities with the Scottish Council on Global Affairs’ podcast series. He is also a member of the Working Group for the Glasgow Human Rights Network, a cross-institutional initiative which brings together academics, practitioners, civil society, students, and government and public authority representatives to share research and teaching on human rights across Glasgow. With Dr Yingru Li (University of Glasgow) and Dr Douglas Jack (University of Strathclyde), he has successfully applied for a Scottish Council on Global Affairs Connections Award, which will be used to support events and third sector workshops across the first half of 2024.

Finally, Dr Scott is interested in rethinking approaches to university teaching, in particular the use of experiential projects such as moot courts and legal research clinics to develop students’ critical thinking skills. He has taught moot skills in a variety of contexts, including the Jessup Ukraine Summer School and the University of Glasgow’s European Human Rights Project, and his article ‘The Politics of the Moot Court’ (co-authored with Dr Ukri Soirila, University of Helsinki) made the argument for moot court competitions as a method for teaching critical approaches to international law. Dr Scott is currently preparing a follow-up article on critical approaches to human rights mooting, and generally he is keen to establish projects which connect students to the outside world of legal practice, particularly where this work can support social justice organisations and the charity sector.

Below is a list of key publications. For a full list please click on the following links:

University of Glasgow Profile



Rethinking the turn to history as a turn to time in international law

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Incorporating International Human Rights: The protection of Care Experienced People’s Rights in the Scottish Human Rights Bill

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The Human Rights Consortium Scotland commissioned this report in partnership with Who Cares? Scotland to explore the potential impact of the proposed Scottish Human Rights Bill for protecting the rights of Care Experienced people. The report focuses on the domestic and international law dimensions of this question, in order to understand how best to integrate Care Experienced people into the Bill as proposed. The report has three sections: • First, the report begins with an outline of the SHRB as it appears in the Consultation, identifying how it will change the actions of public authorities in Scotland and place human rights at the centre of decision-making and government. • Second, it considers evidence of the specific needs of Care Experienced people and the potential for the SHRB to better support the realisation of their human rights. • Finally, the report offers an analysis of four ways in which Care Experienced people could be offered specific protection under the SHRB. Care Experienced people, like many people who face disadvantage in Scotland, stand to benefit from the introduction of economic, social, and cultural rights into Scots law. Yet Care Experienced people also face specific forms of discrimination and embedded inequality which require particular consideration and targeted intervention. While recognition in guidance, international law, and outcome monitoring would go some way towards this goal, this report shows that the most secure way to ensure Care Experienced people’s rights are protected is to recognise them in the text of the Bill. To do so would be consistent with the Scottish Government’s wider efforts to keep its promise to Care Experienced people and make a real difference to the effective protection of their rights.

Consultation Response for A Human Rights Bill for Scotland

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History as deconstruction, history as reconstruction: time and structure in critical international law

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Human rights

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The original critique of human rights is well known. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, scholars drew attention to various blind spots in the human rights project. Feminists demonstrated its failure in representing and protecting women, just as parallel limitations were targeted by queer and disabled activists, finding powerful institutional battlegrounds in the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. TWAIL and post-colonial scholars critiqued the colonial imagery of ‘victims, savages and saviors’ that underpinned the movement, and many critiques intersected multiple communities.

The politics of the moot court

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Scholarship has generally represented moot court competitions in one of two ways: either as a beneficial way for students to develop practical skills prior to the Bar, or as a reproducer of hierarchy and exclusion. This review essay attempts to plot a third way of thinking about moots, one that finds critical potential in the exercise of mooting while remaining attentive to its conservative biases. Building out from a critique of the common law focus of Thomas and Cradduck’s The Art of Mooting, the essay reflects on how critical approaches to international law can be used to teach moot skills more effectively. The essay then turns to the limitations such a critical pedagogy must be aware of within the actual practice of the competition, considering how these limits can be navigated and even flipped into teachable moments for critically inclined students. The essay closes with a call for a more nuanced discussion about the use of experiential learning, of which moots are only one example, for fostering critical engagement with international law.

Soirila, U.