Katja is the founder and director of GSDM. She is a professional, strategically minded, resourceful lawyer with multinational, multidisciplinary, academic, practitioner, military, and civil society experience gained over more than 27 years. Principally, her work has been orientated towards better informing and equipping law and policy makers, as well as practitioners, especially at the governmental and intergovernmental levels.
Katja served in the UK’s Royal Navy for 12 years as a sea-going logistics officer, as well as naval barrister advising on Criminal, Military and International Law matters. As a Lieutenant Commander, her responsibilities extended to managing a large team of personnel and £multi-million assets in a busy, reactive and operational environment.
After leaving the Royal Navy in 2004, Katja worked mainly within the academic sector at a number of leading UK universities until 2017, including as an award winning researcher and author. Her experience spans the design, implementation, delivery and quality assurance (including as an external examiner) of undergraduate, postgraduate and professionally orientated teaching and training programmes, as well as the instigation, management and delivery of multinational research projects. She is a regular academic reviewer for a number of distinguished publishers.
Katja’s technical expertise comprises Public International Law, a broad range of Security issues (especially Terrorism and Counter-terrorism), Human Rights Law, Disaster Law (including Disaster Risk Mitigation/Management), International Institutional Law (especially the United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), Due Diligence, Rule of Law, and aspects of Shari’ah Law. A current research focus is on critiquing traditionally security issues, such as Counter-Terrorism, through the paradigm of Disaster Risk Reduction/Management to identify and propose solutions to law and policy gaps of national and international concern. She has also worked across other legal regimes, notably International Criminal Law, Transnational Organised Crime, Law of Armed Conflict, and Global Health Law. She has undertaken diverse consultancy work, including with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Her external roles have included: Co-lead and moderator for the working session on ‘Technological risk’, Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction 2019, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR); Co-lead and moderator for the working session on ‘Understanding man-made and technological risks’ for the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR (November 2018); Member of UNISDR organising teams (on the Sendai Framework implementation; and on Health and DRR) for the Global Platform (2018-2019); Co-chair of the American Society of International Law’s Disaster Law Interest Group (2017-2019); Committee member of the International Law Association’s Committee on Islamic Law and International Law (2007-2014), and Due Diligence Study Group (2012-2016); member of the prestigious peer review college of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2014-2017), as well as the Global Research Challenges Fund (2016-18).
Well-travelled, Katja is conversant and comfortable working with diverse cultures and traditions, and has various degrees of language skills (especially French, German and Spanish). In her spare time, Katja enjoys doing charitable work, sailing, skiing and coastal walking with her dog.