Bina D’Costa is an activist-scholar of global politics at home in classrooms and conflict zones alike. Bina studies wars and forced migration, children and young people’s protection in emergencies, conflict-related sexual violence and war crimes, human rights advocacy, and indigenous rights. 

Bina is a Professor at the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. Bina is currently an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow and ARC Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEVAW) Lead for Migration and Trafficking. She is also a UN Special Procedures Mandate Holder in the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

Bina previously served as UNICEF’s senior migration and displacement specialist leading its research program at the Office of Research and helped to build UNICEF’s global migration and displacement research agenda. She led research-led policy advocacy in the Horn of Africa, Jordan, Lebanon, EU responses to European Refugee Emergency, and served in the 2017 UN Rohingya Emergency First Response Mission in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. She has provided inputs and technical advice to witness protection and victim support mechanisms at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh, and various civil society justice initiatives in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. 

She has published many essays and seven books, including Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia and Children and the Politics of Violence. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award (Peace Studies), University of Notre Dame, United States in 2020 and the Ann Tickner Award from the International Studies Association (ISA) in 2022.

Research Interest

Bina's current large research focuses on displaced children's protection in global humanitarian emergencies with deep dives through human rights framing in trafficking/smuggling, child/early marriage, child labor and gender justice issues. This project also draws on SDG indicators for data and evidence. This research initiative has received three generous seed-funding from the ANU strategic partnership scheme and APIP global collaborations scheme.

As a UN staff member, Bina has led large multi-country projects on children's protetion in forced migration, internal displacement and statelessness in three global emergencies- the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia), Europe's refugee 'crisis' and the Rohingya emergency.

As an academic, Bina specialised on War Crimes, Genocide and Struggles for Justice in South Asia; Human Rights Activism and Indigenous Politics in South Asia; Identity Politics and Conflicts (in particular sexual crimes and reproductive crimes in conflicts; children and conflict; refugees and conflict).

Snapshots of these academic projects are provided below:

Cascades of Violence: This large collaborative project with John Braithwaite was based on intensive fieldwork in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma/Myanmar, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 

Political Violence, Justice and Impunity: Bina’s large six country fieldwork based project is on political violence, impunity and human rights movements in South Asia. She has investigaed various ‘justice seeking’ processes/movements emerging in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Some of the main themes were enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killing and sexual torture in the region.   

Human Security and Borders: Bina is involved in various policy-oriented projects on borders, identity and human security, focusing on refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and stateless people in South Asia.  She works with Indigenous groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and Northeast India, Rohingya, Tamil and Afghan refugee networks. 

Children and War: Bina has conducted extensive field research on ‘war babies’ with special focus on the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 and the children of Partition of India.  This project has developed largely out of Bina’s activist work. She is involved with human rights groups that focus on children's rights in South Asia.



Submission to the European Commission, Brussels, October 2014 'International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh and Civil Society Movements'

Submission to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Ms Rashida Manjoo on violence against indigenous women and girls in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences, United Nations General Assembly, Document A/HRC/26/38/Add.2, available at, This detailed report has also been published as an e-book and presented at the twelfth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York, May 2013.

Submission to Mr Chaloka Beyani, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons as the representative of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) in 2012.

Review of the draft tool on Victim and Witness Protection in the War Crimes Tribunals in 2013 at the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (OHCHR). Bina's evaluation focused on the tool’s effectiveness in responding to the needs of victims and witnesses of sexual and gender based violence who appear in war crimes tribunals, truth commissions and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

'On Sexual and Reproductive Crimes', interviewed as an expert witness at the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh, 2011

UN Human Rights Council 24th Session, 'United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and the Protection Gap in Afghanistan and Pakistan' 


Humanitarianism in World Politics; Global Governance and Migration; Peace, Conflict and War Studies; Human Security; Peacebuilding and Displacement; Security and International Relations of South Asia; Security and Strategic Studies; Gender, Conflict and Nationbuilding; Global Security; Gender, Globalisation and Development; Gender and Identity Politics.


Delivery and evaluation of customised training for refugee activist groups, especially human security and gender training; research methods including integrating gender mainstreaming policies; good practices case study development; and integration of human rights into country programs.