hero image
Denise Garcia, Ph.D. - Global Resilience Institute. Boston, MA, US

Denise Garcia, Ph.D. Denise Garcia, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Northeastern University | Faculty Affiliate, Global Resilience Institute


Professor Denise Garcia is associate professor in the Department of Political Science in Boston and a Nobel Peace Institute Fellow.



Denise Garcia, Ph.D. Publication



Killer robots: the implications of lethal autonomous weapon systems




Professor Denise Garcia is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the International Affairs program at Northeastern University in Boston, a Nobel Peace Institute Fellow, and the curator of the “Leaders who Inspire” Lecture Series. She researches on International Law, and the questions of lethal robotics and Artificial Intelligence, global governance of security, and the formation of new international norms and their impact on peace and security.

She is the recipient of Northeastern University Outstanding Teaching Award and of Northeastern’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2017, Garcia was appointed to the International Panel for the Regulation of Autonomous Weapons (Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Garcia teaches the annual course titled Global Governance of International Security & the World Politics of Diplomacy at the United Nations in Geneva, in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research and many other partners. In 2016, she testified to the United Nations on the question of lethal autonomous weapons and their impact on peace and security. Author of Small Arms and Security - New Emerging International Norms, and Disarmament Diplomacy and Human Security - Norms, Regimes, and Moral Progress in International Relations, her articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the European Journal of International Security, International Affairs, Ethics & International Affairs, Third World Quarterly, Global Policy Journal, International Relations, and elsewhere.

She is proud to have held the title: Sadeleer Family Research Faculty at Northeastern (2011-2016). Prior to joining the faculty of Northeastern University in 2006 (tenured in 2013), Garcia held a three-year appointment at Harvard, at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and the World Peace Foundation’s Intra-State Conflict Program. She holds a Ph.D., International Relations and International Law— Institut des Hautes Études Internationales et du Développement (Graduate Institute for International Studies and Development), University of Geneva, Switzerland. She is the vice-chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, a member of the Academic Council of the United Nations and the Global South Unit for Mediation in Rio de Janeiro.

Please visit her page on Foreign Affairs: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/authors/denise-garcia

Areas of Expertise (4)

International Norms International Law Governance and Incentives Global Governance and Security

Accomplishments (1)

Nobel Peace Institute Fellow (professional)

This year, Northeastern professor Denise Garcia joined a small, prestigious group of scholars and researchers named Nobel Peace Institute Fellows—an invitation-only program that coalesces some of the brightest minds in various fields to research issues of pressing global significance.

Education (3)

University of Geneva, Switzerland: Ph.D., International Relations and International Law 2006

University of Geneva, Switzerland: M.A., International Relations and International Law 2000

University of Brasilia, Brazil: B.A., International Relations 1994

Affiliations (3)

  • International Committee for Robot Arms Control : Vice-Chair
  • Academic Council of the United Nations : Member
  • Global South Unit for Mediation in Rio de Janeiro : Member

Media Appearances (5)

Here’s What Makes a Great Teacher

News @ Northeastern  online


The passion that drives James Monaghan is tissue regeneration; for Denise Garcia, it’s international diplomacy. While their disciplines couldn’t be more different, what earned them the 2018 University Excellence in Teaching Award is what they have in common—a passion for students on both the academic and human level.

view more

Recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Teaching Award, Dialogue Faculty Professor Denise Garcia

myNortheastern  online


Professor Denise Garcia is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the International Affairs program at Northeastern University in Boston and a Nobel Peace Institute Fellow. She researches on International Law, and the questions of lethal robotics and Artificial Intelligence, global governance of security, and the formation of new international norms and their impact on peace and security.

view more

Scholars’ ‘flash Talks’ Explore Resilience, From Health to Media Innovation

News @ Northeastern  online


“Peaceful countries are less likely to leap into conflict and experience violence,” said Denise Garcia, associate professor of political science and international affairs at Northeastern. “They are better equipped to bounce back from shocks caused by economic conditions and natural disasters.”

view more

Lethal Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)  online


​Welcome to a discussion on the relationship between artificial intelligence, its likely uses in warfare, and how the technology could be controlled.

view more

3QS: Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s Biggest Achievement Was ‘Largely Unheralded’

News @ Northeastern  online


Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the first African to serve as U.N. secretary-general, died on Tuesday at the age of 93. Boutros-Ghali, who served from 1992 to 1996, oversaw the intergovernmental organization during a tumultuous time in international diplomacy. An international law expert and former foreign minister of Egypt, he was at the helm of the U.N. during the Rwandan Genocide, the break-up of Yugoslavia, and the conflict in Somalia.

view more

Articles (5)

Lethal Artificial Intelligence and Change: The Future of International Peace and Security International Studies Review

Denise Garcia


The development artificial intelligence and its uses for lethal purposes in war will fundamentally change the nature of warfare as well as law-enforcement and thus pose fundamental problems for the stability of the international system. To cope with such changes, states should adopt preventive security governance frameworks based upon the precautionary principle of international law, and upon previous cases where prevention brought stability to all countries. Such new global governance frameworks should be innovative as current models will not suffice. The World Economic Forum has advanced that the two areas that will bring most benefits but also biggest dangers to the future are robotics and artificial intelligence. Additionally, they are also the areas in most urgent need for innovative global governance.

view more

Introduction: Mediation and Negotiation in the Global South International Negotiation

Denise Garcia


The practice of international mediation is widely recognized as essential for international peace and security, and its advantages have been extensively acknowledged. It is also an integral component of international negotiation and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Nevertheless, most of the governmental and non-governmental actors involved in international mediation processes come from predominantly Northern countries. Very few states and civil society institutions from the Global South are engaged in international mediation initiatives or have invested in improving their national mediation capacities. Looking into the future, the involvement of the South in these efforts is needed more than ever. World leaders, from the North and the Global South need to revitalize principled commitments and allow great negotiators to come to the fore to reverse deadlocked and perilous situations in the search for peace and prosperity.

view more

Explaining Global Norms: The Case of Negotiations on Restraining Conventional Arms International Negotiation

Denise Garcia


International norms are central to world politics and they set boundaries for what is deemed commonly accepted behavior. The literature has not effectively explained the rise of new norms through negotiation and how actors from the Global South have played active roles, especially in the complex areas of developing security norms. This article argues that norm-making is not a unidirectional movement or phenomenon, but rather a highly circuitous process. The circuitous norm building model accounts for an increasing connectedness among domestic and regional/international levels in norm building in Global South and North countries.

view more

Shifting International Security Norms Ethics & International Affairs

Denise Garcia


The world is going through a crisis of the international liberal order, exemplified by a host of recent shocks: the invasion and annexation of Crimea by Russia; the transnational dimensions of conflicts such as in Syria; the United Kingdom's decision to exit the European Union; the attempted coup d’état in Turkey and its reversal toward autocracy; and the election and rise of non-universalist and illiberal governments as well as politicians who operate under the populist rubric in countries that are viewed as beacons of democracy and stability. These shocks have catalyzed two outcomes. First, the prevailing global norms that serve as the custodians of peace and security have been the subject of revived debate. Second, and relatedly, these shocks have prompted deep reflection on the role of institutions such as the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as the roles of the supposedly democratic members within those institutions.

view more

Preventive Action in World Politics Global Policy

Denise Garcia, Monica Herz


In only a few instances in international relations, states anticipate major problems and address them before they become disastrous: negotiating and creating new international norms to avert human and financial loss. One example is the Protocol banning laser weapons that can permanently blind. It was created in the mid‐1990s before the weapons were fully operational and set a powerful norm that banned their future development. With new evolving technologies that have unparalleled capacity to harm and maim, such as fully autonomous weapons systems (killer robots), it is imperative that states take preventive action and create new multilateral agreements to cope with problems yet to materialize. This article aims to initiate the discussion of when states act preventively to avert major future problems. It advances three initial explanatory propositions on preventive multilateralism in areas of ‘commonly perceived global dimension of future potential harm’ to improve states’ security dilemmas; based upon reputation and humanitarian, material concerns, and national security, and presents the initial discussion toward a world politics of prevention.

view more