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Prof. Dr. Katrin Kinzelbach

  • Organization: Institute for Political Science
  • Working group: Professorship International Politics of Human Rights
  • Phone number: +49 9131 85-23481 (Secretariat -23274)
  • Email: katrin.kinzelbach@fau.de
  • Address:
    Bismarckstraße 1, Postbox: Kochstr. 4/5
    91054 Erlangen
    Room A308
  • Office hours during teaching period:
    Mondays 4:30 - 6:00 pm, please sign up by email in advance.

Professor Dr. Katrin Kinzelbach teaches the international politics of human rights and co-directs FAU’s MA Human Rights. Her ongoing research focuses on academic freedom. She has a particular interest in the People’s Republic of China, where she lived for two years.

Before joining FAU in September 2019, Prof. Dr. Kinzelbach was associate director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin. In parallel, she taught as a visiting professor at the Central European University in Budapest, heading a practice-oriented human rights clinic for several years. From 2007-2010, 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. Outside of think tanks and academia, Professor Kinzelbach has also worked for the United Nations Development Programme, serving at various duty stations around the world between 2001 and 2007.

Professor Kinzelbach currently serves on the selection committee of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, and on an advisory board of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.


  • 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-today Visiting Professor at Central European University, School of Public Policy
  • 2019-today Professor for the International Politics of Human Rights, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg

  • International politics of human rights
  • Human rights institutions
  • Authoritarian regimes and political repression
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Social movements and civil society
  • Academic freedom

Monograph
  • 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.

Articles and Policy Reports

  • The Academic Freedom Index and Other New Indicators Relating to Academic Space”, with J. Spannagel, I. Saliba, V-Dem Users’ Working Paper Series, March 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
  • Forbidden Knowledge, with F. Hoffmann, GPPi, 2018
  • Unternehmensstrategische Evaluierung: Flucht und Migration, with J. Lehmann et.al., GIZ, 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)
  • “Weißbuch Menschenrechte in China”, in Quellen zur Geschichte der Menschenrechte, ed. Arbeitskreis Menschenrechte im 20. Jahrhundert, University of Jena, 12/2015
  • “Democracy Promotion and China: Blocker or Bystander?” with D. Chen in Democratization, 22(3)/2015
  • Politische Gefangene befreien. Empfehlungen zur Einzelfallarbeit für staatliche und zivilgesellschaft-liche 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 et.al., BMZ, 2014
  • “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
  • 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

  • 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, 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

  • “Wissenschaftsfreiheit im internationalen Kontext”, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin, 05.09.2019
  • “Asian Values versus Western Values – a False Dichotomy”, International Conference: Putting Human Rights to the Test; Claims, Interventions and Contestations since 1990, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Cologne, 17.05.2019
  • “Is Civic Space Closing? What We Know and Do Not Know about Civil Society Crackdowns”, participation in panel: “The Causes and Consequences of the Crackdown on Civil Society”, International Studies Association Annual Convention, Toronto, 28.03.2019
  • “A Global Index on Academic Freedom: Why? How? And Can it Improve Universities?”, International Studies Association Annual Convention, Toronto, 27.03.2019
  • “Keynote: Academic Freedom Index – A Tool to Promote Academic Freedom?”, Forum for Academic Freedom, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Berlin, 19.03.2019
  • “Wie zeitgemäß ist das Gebot der Wertneutralität von Universitäten?”, 12. Forschungs- und hochschulpolitisches Werkstattgespräch der Volkswagen-Stiftung, Hannover, 15.03.2019
  • “Democracy Promotion – Lessons from Germany”, Carnegie Europe, Brussels, 28.01.2019
  • “Monitoring Academic Freedom”, Bologna Hub, BMBF/KMK/DAAD, Berlin, 26.11.2018
  • “Academic Freedom Infringements”, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, “12th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities”, Berlin, 12.11.2018
  • “Defining Academic Freedom for Empirical Research on Infringements”, Academy in Exile, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut (KWI), Essen, 18.10.2018
  • “Measuring Academic Freedom: Toward a Global Index”, SAR Global Congress: The University and the Future of Democracy”, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, 26.04.2018
  • “The Role of Human Rights in International Relations”, Jean Monnet Lecture, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, 003.2018
  • “Academic Freedom and Repression in the University Sector”, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Cologne, 06.11.2017
  • “Authoritarianism in Global Ascendance?”, TLI Signature Lecture, King’s College London, London, 16.10.2017
  • “A Global Human Rights Movement – Fact or Fiction?”, TU Berlin, Berlin, 01.11.2016
  • “Macht und Ohnmacht von Menschenrechtsaktivisten in der digitalen Welt”, Karlsruher Verfassungsdialog, Karlsruhe, 07.10.2016
  • “Political Imprisonment, Transnational Advocacy and Foreign Policy: Why Are Some Political Prisoners Released in Response to External Demands and Others Not?”, IPSA 24th World Congress of Political Science, Poznan, 25.07.2016
  • “Authoritarian Criticism of Human Rights”, Arbeitskreis Menschenrechte, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Cologne, 25.11.2016
  • “Empirical Research on Political Prisoners”, American Academy of Arts and Science, Cambridge, 02.11.2016
  • “How Many Political Prisoners get International Attention?”, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, 24.02.2016
  • “The Global Authoritarian Challenge”, World Movement for Democracy, Seoul, 02.11.2015
  • “The EU’s human rights policy towards third countries”, Utrecht University, 01.2015
  • “Which Values Will Matter Tomorrow?”, European Forum Alpbach: The Future of the International Order, Alpbach, 26.08.2013
  • “The Influence of External Actors on the Release of Chinese Political Prisoners”, University of Macau, Department of Government and Public Administration, Macau, 03.12.2012
  • “The EU’s Human Rights Dialogues. Talking to Engage or Silencing the Debate?”, Freie Universität Berlin: “The Transformative Power of Europe”, 11.12.2009
  • “Diskursanalyse als Prüfungsmaßstab für das UPR-Verfahren”, Universität Potsdam, Menschenrechtszentrum, Potsdam, 26.04.2009
  • “Alternatives to Sanctions and Shaming. What is the Impact of Non-confrontational Measures?”; Harvard University Humanities Center, Cambridge, 12.11.2008
  • “EU Human Rights Policy towards China. Normative Partnership or Antagonism in Disguise?”, College of Europe, Bruges, 04.04.2009
  • “What Role for Human Security in EU-China Relations by 2020?”, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg 24.09.2009
  • “The Dialogue Theatre”, European China Law Studies Association”, Vienna, 19.06.2009