Dr. Erica L. Gaston is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is also the senior policy advisor and head of Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace Programme at the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research. Prior to joining UNU, Dr. Gaston worked for fifteen years as a practitioner, lawyer, and conflict analyst, focusing on issues of conflict-related human rights and civilian protection, rule of law development and security sector governance, and proxy and substate conflict dynamics. She has significant field experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Pakistan, among other places.
Dr. Gaston previously served as project manager with the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, where she oversaw a multiyear project mapping and analyzing the influence of nonstate and substate armed groups in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, and also developed research on harmonizing reporting in humanitarian reform, advancing legal education and rights-based protection, and other rule of law and conflict resolution support in several conflict-affected or transitioning countries. Prior to that, she led the rule of law portfolios for the United States Institute of Peace’s work in Afghanistan and Yemen, with a focus on conflict resolution, women’s access to justice, security sector transition, and informal justice. She worked for a number of years with the Center for Civilians in Conflict and then the Open Society Foundations leading documentation and advocacy on civilian protection and conflict-related human rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and contributing to grantmaking and civil society support.
Gaston has published and provided commentary widely, including on Lawfare, War on the Rocks, the Guardian, Foreign Policy, CNN, Al Jazeera, the BBC and others. Her legal scholarship, including publications in the Harvard International Law Journal, and the Harvard National Security Law Journal, has examined changing norms and practice in unit and sovereign self-defense, in privatized warfare, and in other areas of international humanitarian law. She has also edited several book compendiums focused on the changing norms and practices in twenty-first century conflict, including Laws of War & 21st Century Conflict (IDEA Press, 2012), and Ethics of 21st Century Military Conflict (IDEA Press, 2012, co-edited with Patti Lenard). She has been a recipient of the German Chancellor Fellowship, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and previously served as a term member at the Council in Foreign Relations.