Zvobgo_Portrait_elbow patches.jpg

Kelebogile / ki-le-bu-hi-le / 1. I am grateful. [Setswana]

Zvobgo / zhrob-go / 1. That which has always been. [Shona]


I am an incoming Assistant Professor of Government at William & Mary, a faculty affiliate at the Global Research Institute, and the founder and director of the International Justice Lab. I earned my Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Southern California in 2021. At USC, I was Provost's Fellow in the Social Sciences, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and a recipient of the 2021 USC Ph.D. Achievement Award. I received my B.A. (with honors) in International Relations and French Language & Literature from Pomona College in 2014.

My research broadly engages questions in human rights, transitional justice, and international law and courts, and has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals, including International Studies Quarterly and the Journal of Human Rights, and popular-press outlets like Foreign Policy and The Washington Post. I have won multiple awards for my work, including the award for best paper from the Human Rights Section of the International Studies Association and the Human Rights Section of the American Political Science Association. In 2021, I received the Lawrence S. Finkelstein Prize from the International Studies Association's International Organization Section. 

Much of my past and ongoing work concerns quasi-judicial and judicial bodies that have proliferated around the globe over the past half-century to address serious violations of human rights law and humanitarian law. Thus far, my scholarship has centered on domestic truth commissions and international criminal tribunals, especially the International Criminal Court. 


My book project, Governing Truth: NGOs and the Politics of Transitional Justice, produces a new model of transnational advocacy and advocacy networks, the burden sharing model, to explain why some governments but not others adopt transitional justice (TJ) institutions, design them to succeed, and follow up on them with particular policies. The central argument is that domestic and international civil society actors, who compose a global TJ network, alternate advocacy leadership at different stages: domestic groups are critical for TJ adoption, international experts are vital for strong TJ design, and domestic groups are essential for TJ delivery and follow-up. With a focus on truth commissions, the project demonstrates that governments are more likely to: create commissions where domestic groups are stronger; afford commissions key investigative powers when they are advised by international experts; and implement specific commission recommendations (e.g., reparations) championed by domestic groups. The project presents evidence from statistical analyses of novel data from the Varieties of Truth Commissions. The datasets capture the universe of commissions, their mandates and powers, their recommendations, and levels of implementation across recommendations. The project also presents case studies and probes causal pathways using evidence from fieldwork, including interviews, focus groups, and archival research. Study participants include government officials, former commission leaders, representatives of international organizations and international non-governmental organizations, and human rights advocates in Argentina, Canada, Guatemala, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. Additional fieldwork in South Africa and Timor-Leste is forthcoming.

Outside of academia, I am an avid traveler, runner, and dancer. My lightbulb moments tend to happen when I'm on the move.