School of Languages and Area Studies


Photo of Dr Olivia Rutazibwa

Dr Olivia Rutazibwa

  • Qualifications: PhD Political Sciences / International Relations (2013, Ghent University, Belgium, doctoral program European University Institute, Florence, Italy 2001-5) , MA Political Sciences / International Relations (2001, Ghent University, Belgium), BA Social and Political Sciences, (1999, University of Antwerp, Belgium).
  • Role Title: Lecturer in International Development and European Studies
  • Address: Park Building, King Henry 1 Street, Portsmouth PO1 2DZ
  • Telephone: 023 9284 6154
  • Email:
  • Department: School of Languages and Area Studies
  • Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


For the last decade, my research interests have focused on the motivations and effects of western ethical foreign policy in the Global South. Understanding ethical foreign policy as those policies that are explicitly designed around the well-being of the receiving societies cf. democracy promotion, development, good governance and humanitarian interventions, I specifically focused on the EU’s policies in sub-Saharan Africa to understand their limited success and potential alternatives like autonomous recovery and genuine ownership beyond self-management. I started my PhD research ‘In the Name of Human Rights. The Problematics of EU Ethical Foreign Policy in Africa and Elsewhere’ at the European University Institute in Florence (2001), did an internship at DG RELEX of the European Commission (2003), was a Visiting Fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris and did fieldwork in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somaliland. From 2010 to 2013 I was a journalist at the Brussels based monthly magazine, MO*. As the Africa desk editor I had the opportunity to travel extensively in the continent.


Research Clusters

  • International Development Studies and Security Issues
  • Francophone Africa

Discipline Areas

  • International Relations
  • State- and peace building, (humanitarian) interventions
  • Democracy and democratization
  • EU Studies (global actor, foreign policy)
  • Area Studies (sub-Saharan Africa)

Current Research Projects

My current research project ‘Agaciro, Black Power and R2P. A decolonial study of self-determination’ looks into the possibility of self-determination and agency in a context of western-led ethical foreign policies and international relations permeated by the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) that fundamentally altered the international understanding of sovereignty. The project seeks to rethink the concept of self-determination through a comparative study of its understanding and enactment in (1) the contemporary post-genocide Rwandan concept of Agaciro (loosely translated: self-worth or dignity), (2) the 60s and 70s African American civil rights experience in the United States and (3) the western-led R2P doctrines in the European Union’s (EU) policies towards the African Sahel and Horn of Africa regions.


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

View profile