Karen E. Smith, Ph.D.


The London School of Economics and Political Science

Country: United Kingdom (England)

About Me:

I am a Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Director of the European Foreign Policy Unit (within the International Relations Department).  I teach courses on the EU in the World, EU Enlargement, European institutions, and genocide. I also supervise PhD students in those areas. My main area of research is the ‘international relations of the European Union’, and I have written extensively on the formulation and implementation of common EU foreign policies. I have examined the EU’s pursuit of ‘ethical’ foreign policy goals such as promoting human rights and democracy, and policy-making within European states regarding genocide. For over a decade I have also analysed EU-UN relations, and more recently I have extended my research to consider the role of other political and regional groups in UN diplomacy. I have also been working on the implications of Brexit for UK and EU foreign policy.

Research Interests

European Politics

Foreign Policy

International Law & Organization

Human Rights


European Union

Foreign Policy Analysis

United Nations

Human Rights



Journal Articles:

(2017) Introduction: the multilateral politics of UN diplomacy, Hague Journal of Diplomacy

The introduction sets out the rationale for the special issue. It begins by illustrating why we should study the role of regional and political groups at the UN, and then reviews the literature on groups at the UN, demonstrating that while there has been increasing attention paid to the role of the EU and other regional organizations at the UN, the literature on other groups is limited or rather dated. The introduction then presents the conceptual framework used by authors in their articles: the set of questions each author will address, and the factors that each will consider when seeking to explain the influence that regional and political groups have in particular negotiations and issue areas. The rationale for choosing the range of topics covered in the special issue is given. The introduction concludes with observations on the interaction, influence and importance of group dynamics in the political context of UN diplomacy.

(2017) EU member states at the UN: a case of Europeanisation arrested?, Journal of Common Market Studies

This article addresses two questions about the EU’s and EU member states’ diplomacy in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee and the Human Rights Council: Have EU member states been more, or less, active outside the framework of EU coordination since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty? Has EU activity increased? The findings are that EU member states have been increasingly active at the Human Rights Council and have increasingly worked with other states outside of the EU, while the level of EU activity has remained largely the same. In the Third Committee, member states speak more than the EU but neither the EU or member states have been sponsoring more resolutions. Europeanisation is ‘arrested’ in these cases, as member states are reluctant to push for more EU activity because both the internal intergovernmental decision-making system and external context discourage it.

(2017) UK Diplomacy at the United Nations after Brexit: Challenges and Opportunities, British Journal of Politics and International Relations

The outcome of the UK’s EU referendum will have far-reaching implications for its foreign policy and diplomacy and raises fundamental questions of how ‘Brexit’ will impact its relationships with Europe and the world. This is even more pertinent when looked at from the perspective of the UN where the UK has benefited considerably from its membership of the EU. This article presents the challenges and opportunities of Brexit for the UK’s diplomacy, and influence, at the UN. First, we illustrate the importance of political and regional groups within the UN. Second, we analyse how the UK has worked within such groups, and above all the EU, in two cases: human rights and nuclear weapons issues. Finally, we reflect upon how Brexit is expected to impact UK diplomacy in a UN dominated by group politics, arguing that any rewiring of UK diplomatic channels must continue to account for EU positions.