Naz K. Modirzadeh is the founding Director of the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (PILAC). In May 2016, she was appointed as a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, having previously joined the HLS faculty as a Lecturer on Law in Fall 2014. In the Fall 2016 term, she will teach International Humanitarian Law/Laws of War, and in the Spring 2017 term she will teach Public International Law as well as International Law, Policy and Decision-Making in War: Advanced Seminar. At PILAC, Modirzadeh is responsible for overall direction of the Program, collaboration with the Faculty Director and other affiliated faculty, development of research initiatives, and engagement with key decision-makers in the armed forces, humanitarian organizations, government, and intergovernmental organizations.
Modirzadeh regularly advises and briefs international humanitarian organizations, UN agencies, and governments on issues related to international humanitarian law, human rights, and counterterrorism regulations relating to humanitarian assistance. For more than a decade, she has carried out legal research and policy work concerning a number of armed conflict situations. Her scholarship and research focus on intersections between the fields of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and Islamic law. She frequently contributes to academic and professional initiatives in the areas of humanitarian action, counterterrorism, and the laws of war.
In addition to taking part in several expert advisory groups for UN research initiatives, Modirzadeh is a non-resident Research Fellow at the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the Naval War College and a non-resident Research Associate in the Humanitarian Policy Group of the Overseas Development Institute. She is also on the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group, on the Advisory Board of Geneva Call, and on Board of Directors of the International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP). She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.
SSRN author page
“International law and armed conflict in dark times: A call for engagement,” International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 96, No. 895/896, pp. 737–749 (2014)
“Folk International Law: 9/11 Lawyering and the Transformation of the Law of Armed Conflict to Human Rights Policy and Human Rights Law to War Governance,” Harvard National Security Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 225–304 (2014)
“Ambivalent Universalism? Jus ad bellum in Modern Islamic Legal Discourse,” European Journal of International Law, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 367–89 (2013) (co-author)
“Humanitarian engagement under counter-terrorism: a conflict of norms and the emerging policy landscape,” International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 93, No. 883, pp. 623–47 (Sept. 2011) (co-author)
“The Dark Sides of Convergence: A Pro-Civilian Critique of the Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Law in Armed Conflict,” Naval War College, Blue Book, 86th Volume, pp. 349–410 (2010; recipient of the Lieber Prize of the American Society of International Law)
“Taking Islamic Law Seriously: INGOs and the Battle for Muslim Hearts and Minds,” Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol. 19, pp. 191–233 (2006)
PILAC Briefings and Reports
“Pilot Empirical Survey Study on the Impact of Counterterrorism Measures on Humanitarian Action,” Counterterrorism and Humanitarian Engagement Project at HLS PILAC, March 2017 (co-author with Jessica S. Burniske). See also Comment on the Study, March 2017 [link].
“Indefinite War: Unsettled International Law on the End of Armed Conflict,” Legal Briefing, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, February 2017 (co-author with Dustin A. Lewis and Gabriella Blum). See also the related Lawfare post [link].
“War-Algorithm Accountability,” Research Briefing, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, August 2016 (co-author with Dustin A. Lewis and Gabriella Blum).
“Suppressing Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Supporting Principled Humanitarian Action: A Provisional Framework for Analyzing State Practice,” Briefing Report, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, October 2015 (by Jessica Burniske and Dustin A. Lewis with Naz K. Modirzadeh).
“Medical Care in Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law and State Responses to Terrorism,” Legal Briefing, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, September 2015 (co-author with Dustin A. Lewis and Gabriella Blum). See also related Lawfare Post [link].
Humanitarian Practice Network Papers
“Counter-terrorism laws and regulations: what aid agencies need to know,” Humanitarian Practice Network Paper, Overseas Development Institute, No. 79, November 2014 (co-author)
“Somalia in Crisis: Famine, Counterterrorism, and Humanitarian Aid,” Harvard Law School Case Studies Program, February 2015 (co-author):
Working Group Briefing Memoranda
Katie King with Naz K. Modirzadeh and Dustin A. Lewis, “Understanding Humanitarian Exemptions: U.N. Security Council Practice and Principled Humanitarian Action,” Working Group Briefing Memorandum, Counterterrorism and Humanitarian Engagement Project, April 2016.
Select Blog Posts
“Accountability for Algorithmic Autonomy in War,” Lawfare, September 12, 2016 (co-author)
“Amid Investigations of Hospital Bombings, Don’t Lose Sight of Key Principles,” Lawfare, October 30, 2015 (co-author)
“Medical Care in Armed Conflict: IHL and State Responses to Terrorism,” Lawfare, September 8, 2015 (co-author)
“Folk Law and Obama Administration Mythology,” Lawfare, October 26, 2014
“A Reply to Marty Lederman,” Lawfare, October 3, 2014
“Folk International Law and Syrian Airstrikes,” Lawfare, October 2, 2014
“Guest Post: Strong Words, Weak Arguments – A Response to the Open Letter to the UN on Humanitarian Access to Syria (Part 2),” Opiniojuris.com, May 12, 2014
“Guest Post: Strong Words, Weak Arguments – A Response to the Open Letter to the UN on Humanitarian Access to Syria (Part 1),” Opiniojuris.com, May 12, 2014
“Guest Post: How International Law Could Work in Transnational Non-International Armed Conflicts: Part II of a Two-Part Series,” Opiniojuris.com, April 11, 2013 (with Jonathan Horowitz)
“Guest Post: How International Law Could Work in Transnational Non-International Armed Conflicts: Part I of a Two-Part Series,” Opiniojuris.com, April 11, 2013 (with Jonathan Horowitz)