Leoni Connah

I am a current fully funded PhD student in International Relations at Lancaster University. I also received my undergraduate degree in Religious Studies (2014-2017) and my master’s degree in Religion and Conflict (2017-2018) from Lancaster University. During my time as a PhD candidate, I have had the opportunity to teach Politics and International Relations at the undergraduate level and I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I currently represent the postgraduate community to the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and I am also an editor for the Decolonising Lancaster University website.

Current Research

My current research explores the changing nature of the conflict in Kashmir in recent years and the impact this has had for regional South Asian security, straining the relationship between two nuclear powers (India and Pakistan), as well as human security, violating the human rights of Kashmiris. The main objectives of the thesis are; (i) to detail Kashmir’s complex history, (ii) to move away from dominant state-centric approaches and provide a theoretical framework that focuses on human security and human rights, (iii) explore the significance of human rights abuses and the impact they have had on Kashmiris, (iv) demonstrate the relationship between human rights abuses and non-resolution, and (v) finally, consider Kashmir’s future and provide a possible pathway to address the issues that have been identified in the thesis as catalytic factors for the conflict’s continuance.

As the situation is constantly changing, concrete conclusions are yet to be made. As human rights abuses are exacerbated by draconian laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), this pushes civilians to retaliate through violent and non-violent protest. As civilians retaliate, this results in a state response, one that is often heavy handed and results in curfews, cordon and search operations, detentions, enforced disappearances and in a lot of cases, torture. Those responsible for such abuses are not held legally accountable, despite perpetrators violating international law. In light of impunity, civilians then protest against security forces personnel and the cycle of violence continues. This research on the most recent era of the Kashmir conflict is particularly relevant when considering the overall security of South Asia. From the mass uprisings in 2016 to the recent decisions made by the BJP government to revoke Article 370, Kashmir remains a geopolitical hotspot. Overall, this thesis contributes to ongoing research on human rights, South Asian security, international relations theory and more.

Methodologically, the thesis takes a bottom-up approach, detailing interviews conducted with local Kashmiris, the Kashmiri diaspora here in the UK and abroad, charities, NGOs and more. As I have been unable to travel to Kashmir, which is a limitation of this study, I have relied on electronic interviews. The overall aim of the research is to shed light on the ways in which decisions made at the political level are profoundly impacting the human rights of those at a grass-roots level and the choice of taking a qualitative approach is best suited to achieve this objective.


“Kashmir: New Domicile Rules Spark Fresh Anger a Year After India Removed Region’s Special Status”. Available at: https://theconversation.com/kashmir-new-domicile-rules-spark-fresh-anger-a-year-after-india-removed-regions-special-status-142696

“Black Lives Matter: PPR PhD Students Come Together to Discuss Systemic Racism”. Available at: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/ppr/news-and-events/news/2020/black-lives-matter/

“Bangladesh: Why a Pandemic is More Than a Threat to Global Health”. Available at: https://globaldiscourseblog.co.uk/2020/06/02/bangladesh-why-a-pandemic-is-more-than-a-threat-to-global-health/#more-336

“Ayodhya’s Déjà Vu”. Available at: http://southasiajournal.net/ayodhyas-deja-vu/

“Is Covid-19 Worsening the Already Fraught Situation in Kashmir?” Available at: https://discoversociety.org/2020/03/30/is-covid-19-worsening-the-already-fraught-situation-in-kashmir/

“The Echoes of Colonialism: Kashmir’s Future Remains Uncertain Following India’s Revocation of its Self-Rule”, New Zealand International Review, 45 (2). pp. 6-10.


European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference 2020.

Presented a paper entitled “Is the Pandemic Aggravating the Conflict in Kashmir?”

(International event).

Lancaster University Law Conference 2020.

Presented a paper entitled “The Human Rights Situation in Kashmir: Protected or Violated?”

(International event).

Contact Details

I am interested in collaborating with other scholars working on Kashmir via conference panels, workshops, and publications. You can get in touch via the email below.