Emma Gilligan

Keywords : War crimes in Chechnya International human rights movements Contemporary Russian studies

Country : United States

Organization : University of Connecticut

Department : Department of History

Biography :


  • Ph.D., University of Melbourne
  • Bachelors (Honors), University of Melbourne


  • Eastern Europe
  • Russia/Ukraine
  • Africa
  • Cambodia



After completing her doctoral studies in Russian history at the University of Melbourne, Australia, Emma Gilligan was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of History at the University of Chicago from 2003-2006. During this time, she completed her book Defending Human Rights in Russia; Sergei Kovalyov Dissident and Human Rights Commissioner, 1969-96 (Routledge, 2004). This book traces the evolution of the Soviet human rights movement from the 1960s in Moscow to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It analyzes, in particular, the rise of Sergei Kovalyov, Russia’s first human rights commissioner under the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and the impact of former Soviet dissidents on the discourse of human rights in the post-Soviet era. Her second book, Terror In Chechnya: Russia and the Tragedy of Civilians in War (Princeton University Press, 2010) examines the war crimes committed by Russian soldiers against the civilian population of Chechnya. The study places the conflict in Chechnya within the international discourse on humanitarian intervention in the 1990s and the rise of nationalism in Russia. Emma Gilligan is the author of articles for the Chicago Tribune, ‘Why there is no Peace in Chechnya,’ 2005 and ‘US Loses High Ground on Human Rights’, 2006 and the International Herald Tribune. She has appeared on MSNBC, Al Jazeera and Radio Liberty. She teaches courses on the history of human rights and genocide after the Second World War.


  • Gilligan, E. L. Terror in Chechnya: Russia and the Tragedy of Civilians in War 
    (Princeton University Press, 2010) Institute for the Study of Genocide Book Award, 2011.
  • Gilligan, E.L. Defending Human Rights in Russia: Sergei Kovalyov, Dissident and Human Rights Commissioner 1969-2003 (United Kingdom: Routledge, 2004)
  • Gilligan, E. L, “The Costs of Peace in Chechnya,” Current History, Vol. 114, No 774, October 2015 pp 266-271
  • Gilligan, E. L, “Refashioning the Dissident Past: Politics and Resistance in the Putin Era,” Russian Review, Vol. 74, No. 4, October 2015 pp 559-665
  • Gilligan, E. L, “The Origins and Evolution of Violent Discourse in the Russo-Chechen Wars,” Europe-Asia Studies (forthcoming, 2016)
  • Gilligan, E. L, “Sanctioning Russia: Human Rights, Magnitsky and the Crisis in Ukraine,” Demokratizatsiya, (forthcoming, Spring 2016)
  • Gilligan, E. L “Chechnya and the Paradox of 9/11” in States of War Since 9/11: Terrorism, Sovereignty and the 
    War on Terror (Routledge, United Kingdom, 2014) pp 47-67
  • Gilligan, E. L “Redefining Humanitarianism: The Historical Challenge of R2P,” Journal of Human Rights, Volume 12, Issue 1, 2013
  • Gilligan, E. L “The Human Rights Ombudsman in Russia: The Evolution of Horizontal Accountability,” Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 32, Number 3, August 2010, pp. 575-600
  • Gilligan, E. L “The Story of Chechnya,” Journal of Human Rights, Vol 8, Number 4, 2009 pp 429-439