Temporary employment
Doctorate/PhD (EQF 8)
Apply before:
Hours p/wk:


Do you enjoy: 

  • Conducting high-quality fundamental research on international law and (military applications of) artificial intelligence;
  • Developing and executing research and dissemination activities within the ELSA Lab project;
  • Publishing articles in high-level academic journals;
  • Presenting research at academic conferences;
  • Engaging with project partners and relevant private and public stakeholders (academia, policy, industry);
  • Contributing to the drafting of proposals to acquire research funding;
  • Working closely together with other researchers, in particular the DILEMA project;
  • Participating in the development and execution of the research, education, and outreach activities of the research strand;
  • Actively engaging with the Asser research community;
  • Developing and executing high-level research projects independently.


What are you going to do

Available from 1st September, you will join the research strand on ‘Regulation in the public interest: Disruptive technologies in peace and security’within our Research Agenda ‘Rethinking public interests in international and European law’, and take part in the NWO-funded research project ELSA Lab Defence.


Disruptive technologies in peace and security

The research strand on ‘Regulation in the public interest: Disruptive technologies in peace and security’ conducts research on technologies that have disruptive implications for international security and international law, including military applications of artificial intelligence (AI), data-driven warfare, biochemical weapons, and conventional weapons or dual use technologies with a disruptive potential. Our research focuses, in particular, on the development of the international regulatory framework for the military and security applications of disruptive technologies. Two main lines of enquiry guide research within this strand. On the one hand, we question how legal norms and ethical values can shape technologies, and on the other hand we analyse how technologies challenge our legal norms and ethical values.


Current research projects in the strand include the DILEMA project (Designing International Law and Ethics into Military Artificial Intelligence), the I2RAMP project (Implementing International Responsibility for AI in Military Practice), and initiatives in the field of international arms control law.


ELSA Lab Defence

The ELSA Lab Defence is a research project addressing Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects (ELSA) of AI in the defence sector. The project aims to develop an assessment and design methodology that helps translating ELSA into (socio-)technical requirements, and establishes a practical and pragmatic research, development and deployment process for AI-based applications. The project consortium is led by TNO and includes, next to the Asser Institute, the Delft University of Technology, Leiden University, the Nederlandse Defensie Academie (NLDA), and the Hague University of Applied Sciences. The ELSA Lab is funded by NWO under the synergy theme ‘Human-centric AI for an inclusive society: Towards an ecosystem of trust’.


Within this project, the Asser Institute invites applications for a post-doctoral researcher to conduct research on the ‘Contextualization and Implementation’ of the ELSA Lab methodology. The aim is to identify ELSA-implications (e.g. compliance with international law and alignment with ethical values, as well as reliability and safety) of specific use-cases and contextual factors. Relevant factors may include human-machine teams on the battlefield versus in the decision room, ELSA in multinational operations, and domain specific ELSA (e.g. maritime, space, cyber). The post-doctoral researcher will uncover which contextual elements raise specific challenges for the ELSA framework, and thereby address blind spots in current academic research and policy debates. After mapping ELSA-relevant factors in a contextual framework, the post-doctoral researcher will identify salient and representative case studies against which the ELSA Lab framework will be tested. This will also serve as a ground to define, from an ELSA point of view, relevant parameters for exercises and simulations, and trainings on human decision-making and human-machine interaction in practice. 


What do you have to offer

The successful candidate is expected to have the following profile:

  • A completed PhD in Public International Law, with a focus on technologies of warfare, autonomous weapons systems, or artificial intelligence;
  • A solid knowledge of academic, policy, and technical debates surrounding AI and its military applications;
  • A track-record of academic publications;
  • A strong research interest in responsible innovation and governance of technologies in the public sector;
  • Experience or a demonstrable interest in interdisciplinary research;
  • Experience or a demonstrable interest in policy-oriented research and engagement with government and industry;
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • Fluency in English;
  • Command of the Dutch language is an advantage.


Our offer

You will be appointed at the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Law School, and seconded to the T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague.

  • The appointment is initially for one year. Upon successful performance, the appointment will be extended for two additional years;
  • The salary will be in accordance with the salary scales of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities, scale 10/11, with a maximum salary of €4.490 gross per month (full-time), depending on the actual level of education and experience. Secondary benefits at Dutch universities are attractive and include 8% holiday pay and an 8,3% end-of-year bonus;
  • The employee will be appointed at the University of Amsterdam and seconded to the Asser Institute.


About us 
The T.M.C. Asser Instituut is an internationally renowned research institute in the fields of international law and European law based in The Hague. The institute is affiliated with the University of Amsterdam.


Our values

The Asser community is a public-spirited community that is committed to excellence, integrity, inclusivity, and public values. 


Our Vision

We envision a world in which local, national and transnational public interests are protected and promoted by international and European public and private law. This is supported by critical reflection conducive to perspectives for action to confront our global challenges.


Our Mission 

The Asser Institute aims to contribute to the development of international and European public and private law by independently conducting fundamental, policy-oriented and applied legal research, as well as by initiating and facilitating academic and expert meetings, (professional) education, and public events that aim to disseminate knowledge of international and European law.



Further information on the position and the project can be obtained from Dr Berenice Boutin (, Senior Researcher at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut.


Job application

To apply to this position, please submit:

  • A motivation letter;
  • A curriculum vitae (maximum 4 pages), including a list of publications, and the name and contact details of two referees (referees will only be contacted at a later stage); 
  • A research proposal (maximum 2000 words) describing the research the applicant intends to pursue within the framework of the ELSA Lab project, as well as beyond. The proposal should indicate in two parts [1] how the applicant intends to approach their research in the context of the ELSA Lab project; and [2] a brief research agenda the applicant would aim to pursue in the coming years, in the context of the research strand on ‘Regulation in the public interest: Disruptive technologies in peace and security’ and the Research Agenda ‘Rethinking public interests in international and European law’.


Submit your application in PDF format by email to, to the attention of the Selection Committee, indicating ‘Application ELSA Lab Post-Doctoral Researcher’ in the subject line.

The deadline for the application is 22 May 2022 at 23:59 hrs CET. 


The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.


If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.


No agencies please.