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 also a visiting professor at King’s College London and a project manager involved with the V-Dem project at the University of Gothenburg.

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. She has a particular focus on the People’s Republic of China. Another area of study is the empirical assessment of human rights violations. Together with the V-Dem project, she conceptualised and realised the Academic Freedom Index, which provides world-wide data. Kinzelbach also serves on the Academic Freedom Committee of the International Studies Association.

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. 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 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
  • 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

  • “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
  • “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 online first:
  • 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
  • The Academic Freedom Index and Other New Indicators Relating to Academic Space: An Introduction”, with J. Spannagel und I. Saliba, V-Dem Users’ Working Paper Series, 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

Talks and Conferences

  • “Wissenschaftsfreiheit in Asien”, BMBF Regionaltag Asien und Ozeanien, 08.12.2021
  • “Wissenschaftsfreiheit weltweit und Risikomanagement in Deutschland”, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, digitales Seminar der Arbeitsgruppe Zukunftswerte Freiheit und Sicherheit, 25.11.2021
  • Empirical Research on Academic Freedom – Indicators and Recent Developments in the EHEA”, Bologna hub conference Fundamental Academic Values in the EHEA, 28.10.2021
  • “Hochschulrankings und Wissenschaftsfreiheit: Warum die akademische Reputation neu verhandelt werden muss”, German Rectors’ Conference and Free University Berlin, 30.09.2021
  • Wissenschaftsfreiheit weltweit”, Görres Society”, 09.07.2021
  • “The Freedom Indispensable for Scientific Research – About a Universal Right and How to Monitor it”, University of Malmö, 18.06.2021
  • “Einschränkungen von Wissenschaftsfreiheit erkennen & entgegenwirken”, DAAD, 09.06.2021
  • Academic Freedom in Asia”, Association for Asian Studies, 14.05.2021
  • “Academic Freedom, Gender, Diversity, and Inclusion”, The Gender Summit, 15.04.2021
  • “Lunch Talk on The Academic Freedom Index”, University of Lund, 14.04.2021
  • “Academic Freedom Index: Data Release 2021”, ISA Annual Convention, 08.04.2021
  • “Der Academic Freedom Index”, Bayerisches Staatsinstitut für Hochschulforschung und Hochschulplanung, 23.03.2021
  • “Menschenrechtsdaten: Empirische Qualitätsstandards und typische Fallstricke”, Fachkonferenz Religionsfreiheit, Justitia et Pax, 17.03.2021
  • “Werkstattgespräch zum Academic Freedom Index”, DAAD, 13.03.2021
  • “Defending Academic Freedom by Measuring it: The Example of the Academic Freedom Index”, EHESS (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), 26.02.2021
  • “Nuremberg at 75: Launching the Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations and the Future of Visual Evidence in International Accountability”, 01.12.2020
  • “Lifting up Human Rights Issues”, Stockholm China Forum, 19.11.2020
  • “The Academic Freedom Index: How it Can Help Implement the Bonn Declaration on the Freedom of Scientific Research”, Ministerial Conference on the European Research Area, Bonn, 20.10.2020
  • “Wissenschaftsfreiheit in China”, DLR-Orientierungsgespräch: Freiheit der Wissenschaft und Wissenschaftsverantwortung, 09.09.2020
  • “The Academic Freedom Index”, Jahrestagung der Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, 25.06.2020
  • “Einführung in den Index der Akademischen Freiheit (AFi)”, DAAD, 02.04.2020
  • “Launch of Academic Freedom Index”, Scholars at Risk Global Congress 2020, 27.03.2020
  • “Preserving Academic Freedom in the Face of Democratic Erosion”, 70th Anniversary of the International Political Science Association, La Sorbonne, Paris, 22.11.2020
  • “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