Bina D’Costa is professor of international relations and a peace and conflict studies specialist at the Australian National University. She is actively engaged in humanitarian peacebuilding efforts around the world. Her research and practice focuses on the intersections between politics, human rights, and security in Asia, with particular emphases on gender justice and global migration.
In addition to a Master’s in International Peace Studies from the Kroc Institute, Bina holds a Master’s in International Relations with honors from the University of Dhaka and a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Australian National University.
Reflecting on her time at Notre Dame, Bina says, “The Kroc Institute is where I really learned what it meant to not only study peace, but to practice peacebuilding through our everyday discussions. Globally we can see deeply authoritarian regimes developing from the U.S., to Latin America, and in many parts of Asia, including my home country, Bangladesh. At this time, it’s incredibly important that we return to some of those discussions and teachings on peacebuilding from Notre Dame and bring them into conversation in many different disciplines.”
Bina’s current and past research topics include peacebuilding, justice and war crimes trials; human security and borders; gender, security and conflict; children and war; and the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in social movements. She has undertaken extensive field research on children’s rights and the impact of violent conflict on “war babies,” focusing especially on children born during the 1971 War of Liberation in Bangladesh and the partition of India. Based on field research and primary data that included 4,000 interviews carried out over a period of nine years in Afghanistan, Bangladesh (the Chittagong Hill Tracts), Burma/Myanmar, India (Kashmir, Ladakh), Pakistan (KPK, Balochistan, Sindh), Nepal, and Sri Lanka, D’Costa has published a co-authored a book with John Braithwaite entitled, Cascades of Violence: War, Crimes and Peacebuilding in South Asia (2018). The book is considered one of the most extensive and in-depth studies ever carried out in the region.
Her other books include Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia (Routledge, 2011 & 2013); Children and Global Conflict (co-authored with Kim Huynh and Katrina Lee Koo, Cambridge University Press, 2015); and Children and Violence: Politics of Conflict in South Asia (edited by Bina D'Costa, Cambridge University Press, 2015).
In addition to research, Bina contributes to policy-oriented work on human security and migration, providing input on two global compacts on migration and refugees. She works with indigenous groups in Chittagong Hill Tracts in Northeast India and Rohingya, Tamil, and Afghan refugee networks to advocate for human rights and just policies for refugees, internally displaced persons, and stateless people throughout South Asia.
As a United Nations staff member, Bina has worked in regions including East Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Horn of Africa, where she served on three global emergency response teams for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Most recently, as a member of the Rohingya Emergency Response Team, she worked on strategies to support displaced persons during the crisis in Burma.
Bina is also a member of the CHT Commission, a human rights body for indigenous groups in the CHT, Bangladesh; the United Nations Development Programme Gender, Crisis Prevention, and Recovery expert panel; and the Advisory Council for the International Center for Gender, Peace, and Security.
Bina received the Kroc Institute’s 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of her contributions as a scholar-practitioner.