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Personal profile


Mattia Pinto

Single Cycle Degree in Law (University of Bologna, Italy), LLM (KCL), PGCertHE (LSE)


I joined York Law School and the Centre for Applied Human Rights in 2022, having previously taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I also interned at the European Court of Human Rights (Registry) and at the International Criminal Court (Office of Public Counsel for the Defence), and I worked as a research assistant at King's College London.

My research interests encompass human rights, criminal law, social-legal theory, international and transnational law, discourse analysis and international political sociology. My doctoral thesis, entitled Human Rights as Sources of Penality and written at the LSE Law School, examines the role that human rights play in fostering and justifying penality. It adopts a socio-legal perspective that gives priority to Discourse Analysis, a method inspired by the work of Michel Foucault. The research takes human trafficking and torture as its case studies and has a three-tier focus on the international stage, Europe and the United Kingdom. In this context, it recovers the contemporary and historical assumptions that sustain, and lie behind, the deployment of penal means to protect and promote human rights.

Research interests

  • Human Rights
  • Criminal law
  • International criminal law
  • International law
  • Transnational law
  • Socio-legal studies
  • Discourse analysis
  • International political sociology

I approach the study of human rights and penality from a social-legal and transnational perspective which investigates the functions and limits of law as a social phenomenon, embedded in historical and socio-political contexts.

My primary area of research focuses on the relationship between human rights and penality. In particular, I am interested in the role that human rights play in both limiting as a ‘shield’ and triggering as a ‘sword’ the state’s penal powers. My doctoral thesis investigates whether, how and why human rights have become sources of expanded penality. It not only considers changes in legislation and judgments but focuses especially on its legal and political discursive formations. My current research also explores possible alternatives for dealing with human rights violations without turning to penal solutions. It looks, for instance, at methods of accountability for torture beyond the punitive frame and at the relationship between human rights activism and penal abolitionism.

In addition to the above research, I am working on a project with Dr Audrey Alejandro (LSE Methodology) on developing a methodological toolkit for researchers and students on ‘law as/and discourse’.

Education/Academic qualification

Masters, University of Bologna

1 Sep 20125 Dec 2017

Award Date: 5 Dec 2017

Masters, King's College London

20 Sep 201630 Sep 2017

Award Date: 30 Sep 2017


  • K Law (General)
  • Criminal Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • Socio-legal studies
  • JX International law
  • International criminal law
  • Transnational Law
  • JZ International relations
  • International Political Sociology


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