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2023 ECR Social Sciences Award: Addressing big social issues

Dr Maria Armoudian has been awarded the Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Research Excellence Award for Social Sciences for her research, leadership, and mentoring to advance the interconnected goals of sustainability, human rights, and good governance.

Her third book, ‘Lawyers Beyond Borders: Advancing International Human Rights through Local Laws & Courts’, represents the definitive work on the inception and development of a global movement to redress survivors of egregious human rights violations, such as genocide and torture. 

Based on court records, government, NGO and media reports, and interviews with advocates and survivors, Lawyers Beyond Borders examines the 40-year pursuit to redress and restore human rights for people failed by international legal-political systems – and efforts to build new pathways to justice, using human ingenuity, ideas, and creative advocacy. 

Eight of Armoudian's recent international and national conference presentations also offered findings and analysis from this work, including at the Midwest Political Science Association, Australasian American Studies Association, International Studies Association, and Western Political Science Association. 

Those who have suffered the gravest violations have often been failed by the international justice system. Lawyers Beyond Borders shows how through ideas and creativity, committed advocates are helping repair the damage.

This book offers insight into addressing most difficult problems of our time. 

With rising authoritarianism, record-levels of violent conflict, and climate change, solving the crisis of injustice is more urgent than ever.

A nomination supporter describes Maria as one of “the most remarkable” people they’ve ever met.

Lawyers Beyond Borders as well as Maria’s other two [books] on the role of journalists, are simultaneously acts of activism and works of scholarship. Simply by telling stories like these, we are reminded of the potential for agency. Professor Armoudian obviously cares deeply about the subjects on which she writes.”

A second nomination supporter says Lawyers Beyond Borders has been described as “a virtual encyclopaedia of relevant Human Rights cases, meticulously documented and detailed”; “an inspiring book”; and “an invaluable resource for scholars (and practitioners) of international law, human rights and law and society”.

Following the publication of her book, Maria was invited to join the advisory board of the international legal Centre for Truth and Justice, and to become a Co-Director of the University of Auckland’s flagship Ngā Ara Whetū Centre for Climate, Biodiversity, and Society.

Maria says as the granddaughter of genocide survivors who lost everything—brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, indigenous lands, homes, and everything except for the clothes on their backs— she is profoundly grateful to the Society for acknowledging her work to support others who are suffering similar fates.

“Some have the world’s attention, so many do not, such as the Armenians in Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh.”


Royal Society Te Apārangu Early Career Research Excellence Award for Social Sciences
Awarded annually to an early-career researcher for social sciences research in New Zealand.

To Maria Armoudian for addressing some of most intractable issues of our time—sustainability, good governance, and international human rights —through transdisciplinary research, leadership and mentoring.