Director, Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR), United Nations University

James Cockayne is Director of the Centre for Policy Research at United Nations University and represents United Nations University at the UN in New York and in the UN’s High-Level Committee on Programmes and the Frontier Issues Reference Group. He additionally serves as Project Director for Delta 8.7 – The Alliance 8.7 Knowledge Platform; Head of Secretariat for the Liechtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. He is also developing new programming on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on international relations.

Dr Cockayne’s best-known work is Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime (Oxford University Press, 2016), described by John Ruggie as an ‘extraordinary book’ and Prof Sir Lawrence Freedman as a ‘landmark study’. Other notable publications include: Fairly Clear Risks: Protecting UN sanctions’ legitimacy and effectiveness through fair and clear procedures (2018); Crooked States: How organized crime and corruption will impact governance in 2050 and what states can – and should – do about it now (2017); What Comes After the War on Drugs? (2016, with Summer Walker); Peace Operations and Organized Crime: Enemies or Allies? (Routledge, 2011), edited with Adam Lupel; and “Islam and international humanitarian law: from a clash to a conversation between civilizations”, Int’l Rev. Red Cross (2002).


  • 2018–present
    Director of the Centre for Policy Research, United Nations University
  • 2014–present
    Associate fellow, Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • 2013–2018
    Head of Office at the United Nations, United Nations University
  • 2012–2012
    Visiting professor, Columbia University
  • 2010–2012
    Co-Director, Centre for Global Counterterrorism Cooperation
  • 2006–2010
    Senior fellow, International Peace Institute
  • 2002–2003
    Principal Legal Officer, Transnational Crime Unit, Australian Attorney-General's Department


  • 2015 
    King's College London, Ph.D. / War Studies
  • 2005 
    New York University School of Law, LL.M. (International Legal Studies)
  • 2002 
    University of Sydney, LL.B. (Hons.)