Prof. Dr. Katrin Kinzelbach

Prof. Dr. Katrin Kinzelbach

Institute of Political Science
Professorship International Politics of Human Rights

Room: Room 4.026
Kochstraße 4/5
91054 Erlangen

Office hours during teaching period

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Professor Dr. Katrin Kinzelbach teaches the international politics of human rights and co-directs FAU’s MA Human Rights. She is a project manager involved with the V-Dem project at the University of Gothenburg. In the past, she was associated as a visiting professor with the Transnational Law Institute, King’s College London and with the School of Public Policy, Central European University in Budapest.

Kinzelbach is interested in how different actors construct, codify, implement or counteract human rights, how they interact transnationally in the process, and how their tactics change due to digital transformation. As a member of a working group at Yale University, she is currently working on human rights-related futurology. Geographically, Kinzelbach has a particular focus on the People’s Republic of China, where she also lived for two years. Another area of study is the empirical assessment of human rights violations, notably academic freedom. Together with colleagues in the V-Dem project, she conceptualised and realised the Academic Freedom Index, which provides world-wide data. Kinzelbach also served on the Academic Freedom Committee of the International Studies Association and on the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation‘s selection committee for the Philipp Schwartz-Inititative, supporting scholars at risk.

Prior to joining FAU, Kinzelbach was associate director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin. Earlier still, she worked as a research associate at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights in Vienna. During this time, she wrote her PhD on the EU-China human rights dialogue and won the Körber Foundation’s Deutscher Studienpreis, which honors outstanding PhD research of particular value to society. Outside of think tanks and academia, Professor Kinzelbach worked for the United Nations Development Programme, serving at various duty stations around the world in the years 2001-2007.


  • 1999 Magister Artium, bilateral MA degree, Universities of Florence & Bonn
  • 2001 Master degree, King’s College London, School of Law & Department of War Studies
  • 2001-2007 Specialist, United Nations Development Programme
  • 2007-2010 Researcher, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights
  • 2010 PhD thesis defended at University of Vienna
  • 2011 Körber Foundation’s „Deutscher Studienpreis”, an award for outstanding and socially-relevant PhD research
  • 2011 Post-doc scholarship, Fritz Thyssen Foundation
  • 2012-2018 Schumpeter fellowship, Volkswagen Foundation
  • 2015-2018 Member of German federal government’s advisory council for civilian crisis prevention
  • 2012-2019 Global Public Policy Institute, associate director since 2014
  • 2013-2019 Visiting Professor at Central European University, School of Public Policy
  • 2021-2024 Visiting Professor, The Dickson Poon School of Law, Transnational Law Institute, King’s College London
  • 2019-today Professor for the International Politics of Human Rights, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg

Research Interests

  • Empirical human rights research
  • Authoritarian regimes and political repression
  • Social movements and civil society
  • Academic freedom
  • People’s Republic of China
  • EU foreign policy
  • Multilateral human rights institutions



  • The EU’s Human Rights Dialogue with China. Quiet Diplomacy and its Limits, Routledge Research in Human Rights, Routledge, London, 2016 (paperback)/ 2014 (hardcover)
    Listed by Foreign Affairs among the best books reviewed in 2016.

Edited Book

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “The Origin and Contested Meaning of Freedom in the Human Right to Science”, Global Constitutionalism: Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law (accepted Dec. 2023, publication 2024)
  • “Spukt ein autokratisches Gespenst in der Chinaforschung?” (Is there an autocratic spectre haunting China research?) with E. Seiwert in ASIEN – The German Journal on Contemporary Asia 166/167 (2024, forthcoming)
  • “Wie Smartphones und Satellitenbilder Menschenrechtsverletzungen sichtbar machen” (How Smartphones and Satellite Images Make Human Rights Violations Visible), in M. Krennerich et al. (Eds.), Die Freiheit der Menschenrechte (The Freedom of Human Rights). Wochenschau Verlag 2023.
  • “Wehrhafte Wissenschaft: Zum akademischen Umgang mit dem autokratischen China” (Militant Academia: On Academic Engagement with Autocratic China) with E. Pils in Saam, N. J. & Bielefeldt, H. (eds.) Die Idee der Freiheit und ihre Semantiken: Zum Spannungsverhältnis von Freiheit und Sicherheit. Bielefeld, transcript, 2023.
  • “Universitäten in der Verantwortung: Wissenschaftsfreiheit in der akademischen Zusammenarbeit mit autokratischen Staaten”, Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte, 2/2023
  • “Academic Freedom in Asia from 1900-2021: A Quantitative Overview”, in: D.D. Gueorguiev, (ed.), New Threats to Academic Freedom in Asia, Columbia University Press, 2022
  • “Asian Values versus Western Values: A False Dichotomy”, in J. Eckel & D. Stahl (Eds.), Embattled Visions: Human Rights Since 1990. Wallstein, 2022
  • “Wie notwendig sind autonome Universitäten? Zum empirischen Zusammenhang der institutionellen und individuellen Wissenschaftsfreiheit” with L. Pelke, Forschung, 15(3/4)/2022
  • “The Academic Freedom Index and its indicators: Introduction to new global time‑series V‑Dem data”, with J. Spannagel, in Quality & Quantity, 2022:
  • Global data on the freedom indispensable for scientific research”, with I. Saliba und J. Spannagel, International Journal of Human Rights, 26(10)/2022
  • Die Vermessung von Wissenschaftsfreiheit”, with J. Spannagel, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 46/2021
  • “Ist Wasser stärker als Stein? Honkongs Social-Media-basierte Protestbewegung und Pekings repressive Antwort”, Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte, 2/2020
  • “Was will China im UN-Menschenrechtsrat?”, Vereinte Nationen, 6/2020
  • “Weißbuch Menschenrechte in China”, in Quellen zur Geschichte der Menschenrechte, Daniel Stahl (Hg), Wallstein, 2020
  • “Human rights in Chinese foreign policy”, in J. Rosenzweig/ S. Biddulph (eds.) Handbook on Human Rights in China, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019
  • “Tour d’Horizon: Zur Heroisierung und Handungs(ohn)macht Inhaftierter Protestanführer, Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte, 1/2018
  • “New Responses to an Old Problem: Political Repression”, with J. Spannagel, in Rising to the Populist Challenge, C. Rodriguez Garavito/ K. Gomez (eds.), Dejusticia, 2018
  • “An International Alliance of Democracies”, in S. Mair/ D. Messner/ L. Meyer (eds) Germany and the World 2030, Ullstein, 2018
  • “German Human Rights Policy in a Multipolar World”, with G. Mohan, in Strategische Verkenningen, Amnesty International Strategic Studies, 4/2016
  • “China’s Human Rights Lawyers: Advocacy and Resistance”, in The China Quarterly, 223/2015 (book review)
  • “Democracy Promotion and China: Blocker or Bystander?” with D. Chen in Democratization, 22(3)/2015
  • “Resisting the Power of Human Rights”, in: The Persistent Power of Human Rights, in T. Risse/ S.C. Ropp/ K. Sikkink (eds.) Cambridge University Press, 2013
  • “Chinas Menschenrechtspolitik in den UN”, in Vereinte Nationen, 2/2013
  • Will China’s Rise Lead to a New Normative Order?” in Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, 30(3)/2012
  • “Talking Human Rights to China: An Assessment of the EU’s Approach” with H. Thelle, in The China Quarterly, 205/2011
  • “The EU, China and Human Rights”, in J. Men/ G. Balducci (eds.) Prospects and Challenges for EU-China Relations in the 21st Century, Peter Lang, Brüssel, 2010
  • “Portraying Normative Legitimacy. CFSP and AFSJ in Need of Institutional Safeguards for Normative Consistency” with J. Kozma, in Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Vol.10(4)/2009
  • “Poetry against Bullets? Somali Women and Social Gun Control” with Z. Hassan, in A. Schnabel/ V. Farr/ H. Myrttinen (eds.) Sexed Pistols. The Gendered Impacts of Small Arms and Light Weapons, UN University Press, Tokyo, 2009


  • The V-Dem Dataset – V-Dem
  • V-Dem Codebook v12, Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. Coppedge, Michael, John Gerring, Carl Henrik Knutsen, Staffan I. Lindberg, Jan Teorell, David Altman, Michael Bernhard, Agnes Cornell, M. Steven Fish, Lisa Gastaldi, Haakon Gjerløw, Adam Glynn, Sandra Grahn, Allen Hicken, Katrin Kinzelbach, Kyle L. Marquardt, Kelly McMann, Valeriya Mechkova, Pamela Paxton, Daniel Pemstein, Johannes von Römer, Brigitte Seim, Rachel Sigman, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jeffrey Staton, Eitan Tzelgov, Luca Uberti, Yi-ting Wang, Tore Wig, and Daniel Ziblatt. 2022.

Policy Reports

  • “Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index into Action”, with J. Spannagel und I. Saliba, GPPi, 2020.
  • Forbidden Knowledge, with F. Hoffmann, GPPi, 2018
  • Unternehmensstrategische Evaluierung: Flucht und Migration, with J. Lehmann, GIZ, 2018
  • Politische Gefangene befreien. Empfehlungen zur Einzelfallarbeit für staatliche und zivilgesellschaftliche Akteure in Deutschland, with C. Wolf, GPPi, 2015
  • Can Shaming Promote Human Rights? A Review and Discussion Paper, with J. Lehmann, European Liberal Forum, 2015
  • Kinderschutz ist Kinderrecht, with Julia Planitzer, BMZ, 2014
  • Public Oversight of the Security Sector: A Handbook for Civil Society Organizations, eds. with E. Cole & K. Eppert, United Nations Development Programme, 2008

Opinion Pieces

  • How (not) to measure China’s autocratic influence”, with L. Pelke in The Loop, ECPR’s Political Science Blog, 2023
  • Fighting for rights in the streets – not just the courts – of Hong Kong”, with E. Pils, in OpenGlobalRights, 05.03.2020
  • “Was Angela Merkel jetzt für Hongkong tun muss”, with E. Pils, Die Welt, 19.11.2019
  • “Will China Dare Challenge the UDHR?”, LeMondediplomatique, 10.12.2018
  • “China nimmt die UNO-Menschenrechtserklärung ins Visier”, NZZ, 06.12.2018
  • “The Nobel Peace Prize Should Honor Hopeful Tactics, Not Heroic Persistence”, GPPi, 04.10.2018
  • “Better data can counteract soft repression”, with J. Spannagel, OpenGlobalRights, 16.08.2018
  • “Deniz Yücel ist nicht frei”, ZEIT ONLINE, 18.02.2018
  • “Wie Interpol vor Despoten geschützt werden kann”, Der Tagesspiegel, 26.08.2017
  • “Ohne Demokratie keine Menschenrechte und kein Frieden”, in PeaceLab, 2017
  • “Nicht locker lassen im Fall Badawi”, ZEIT ONLINE, 03.2015
  • “Respekt für die Menschenrechte”, Frankfurter Rundschau (FR),01.2014
  • “Willkür kann man nicht wegschmeicheln” with J. Lehmann, FR, 09.04.2013
  • “Warum die Menschenrechtspolitik der EU nicht hält, was sie verspricht, GEO 12/2012
  •  “Peking bewegt sich nur unter Druck”, NZZ, 17.10.2012
  • “Warum kuscht ihr so vor China?, Financial Times Deutschland, 07.10.2011
  • “Dissidenten-Diplomatie”, SPON, 24.06.2011