Erica Harper

Erica Harper

Head of Research and Policy Studies

Areas of expertise

Human Rights and Development  /  Transitional Justice  /  Aid Effectiveness  /  Counter-Terrorism/PVE  /  Youth and Resilience  /  Environmental Good Governance  /  Non-State Justice Systems

Erica Harper is a practitioner-academic specializing in international criminal law, human rights law and post-conflict governance. As Head of Research and Policy Studies, she leads the Geneva Academy’s work on non-state actors, transitional justice, digital technologies and sustainable development. She also works closely with various United Nations Special Rapporteur, as an Advisory Board member at Terre des hommes, and is a fellow at the Leiden University’s Van Vollenhoven Institute.

Dr Harper’s current research centres around development effectiveness, and the intersectionality between economic development, security and the rule of law. She manages a multi-country research project examining best practices in the reintegration of former foreign fighters and building resilience against violent extremism in children and youth.

Dr Harper has extensive programming and policy experience, having worked for a variety of UN agencies and non-government organizations in Timor Leste, Indonesia, the Philippines, Jordan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Prior to joining the Geneva Academy, Dr Harper established and served as the Executive Director of the West Asia-North Africa Institute, a Jordan-based policy think tank specializing in security studies, economic policy and good governance. During her 5-year tenure, the Institute grew to become one of the region’s leading think tanks, producing approximately 70 publications annually, including academic journal pieces, policy white papers, books and print media pieces. She also served as an Assistant Professor at Leiden University’s Van Vollenhoven Institute, teaching on aid effectiveness, human rights programming and non-state justice systems.

Dr Harper holds a Bachelor of Laws (hons) and Bachelor of Commerce in Economics, both from Macquarie University, and a PhD in International Law from the University of Melbourne. She has authored five books, including on aid effectiveness, non-state justice and rule of law programming, as well as four edited volumes on the subjects of legal pluralism, governance and development in the Middle East and North Africa. Her latest book, The Last 10 Percent: Why the world needs a leaner, more innovative and pragmatic development sector, today will be released in fall 2022.


Cover page of the book

The Last 10 Per Cent: Why the World Needs a Leaner, More Innovative and Pragmatic Development Sector, Today


Erica Harper


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Cover page of the Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law

The enduring utility of customary justice in fragile and post-conflict states: why development actors need to stop searching for magic bullets and solve the political economy and human rights challenges associated with justice programming


Erica Harper

Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law, Vol 53:3

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Cover page of the article

Solutions for Children Previously Affiliated with Extremist Groups


Erica Harper

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General UN New York

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Cover page of the report

'Reconceptualizing the drivers of violent extremism: an agenda for child & youth resilience


Erica Harper

Terre des hommes

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Dr Harper at the panel on Afghanistan News

Dr Erica Harper Addresses Afghanistan's Complex Situation and the Role of Investigations at the UN Human Rights Council

19 October 2023

During the latest UN Human Rights Council session, our Head of Research and Policy Studies Dr Erica Harper presented at a side event the situation in Afghanistan.

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Meet our 2023–2024 Faculty

9 October 2023

Discover the photo gallery of our 2023–2024 faculty members and their motivation to teach and share their expertise with our students.

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Crowd Control photo News

Counterterrorism in Europe: Ambiguous Security Gains for Significant Impacts on Rights

26 September 2023

Our new Working Paper invites readers to embark on a critical journey, shedding light on the intricate dynamics between security and human rights and calls for us to consider the effectiveness of counterterrorism policies as a matter of human rights law, demonstrating the benefits of this approach in improving the rationality of the decision-making process.

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