Universiteit Leiden

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Sophie Starrenburg

Assistant professor

Dr. S.H. Starrenburg LLM
+31 71 527 2727

Sophie Starrenburg is Assistant Professor of Public International Law at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at Leiden Law School. Her work broadly focuses on the intersections between public international law and cultural heritage. Currently, her research concentrates on cultural heritages of displacement, with a specific focus on climate change and armed conflict.

More information about Sophie Starrenburg


Sophie completed her studies at Leiden University (BA, LL.M.) and Cambridge University (LL.M.), where was a Rotary Scholar and served as an editor for the Cambridge International Law Journal. She subsequently worked as a research and teaching assistant at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies from 2016 to 2018. In 2018, she was awarded an NWO Research Talent grant to conduct her PhD research at the Grotius Centre.

In her doctoral thesis, she examined the intersections between the 'local' and the 'global' in cultural heritage law, focusing on the impacts of international heritage inscriptions (e.g. World Heritage) on individuals and local communities. Her work drew attention to the invocation of cultural heritage protection as a 'common interest' of the international community, placing these developments within broader trends and critiques of the language of universality within public international law.

During her doctoral studies Sophie was a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law in Heidelberg. In 2023, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Department for Public Law and Governance of Tilburg Law School, where she was a member of the ‘Constitutionalising in the Anthropocene’ research group. She took up her position as assistant professor at the Grotius Centre in December 2023.

Sophie has advised the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO on the implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict in the Netherlands and is a member of the ILA Committee on Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict. She is also a member of the ‘Our Common Dignity’ Rights-Based Approaches Working Group and the International Scientific Committee on Legal, Administrative and Financial Issues (ICLAFI) of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites). Prior to commencing her PhD, she was a researcher for the Dutch Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War (the Restitutions Committee) from 2013 to 2015.

Assistant professor

  • Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid
  • Instituut voor Publiekrecht
  • Grotius Centre for Intern Legal Studies

Work address

Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden


  • No relevant ancillary activities
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