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S.J.D. Candidate
msoldatenko at


The Multi-Faceted Choice Between Using and Avoiding Law in International Agreement-Making

While designing international agreements, states decide whether to subject their commitments to international and domestic law or avoid the legal form. This choice is not binary. States may mix legally binding and political layers of cooperation and decide to make an agreement’s form purposefully ambiguous. The decision often involves tradeoffs between, on the one hand, the relative ease of making and later adjusting nonbinding agreements to changing circumstances and, on the other hand, the higher credibility of legally binding promises. Despite the growing appetite of policymakers, diplomats, and governmental lawyers for greater insights into the law/non-law choice, many of its intricacies are undertheorized. My S.J.D. dissertation will study this choice, with a special emphasis on the important role ambiguity may play in it.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • The Rational Choice Approach and Compliance with International Law with Professor Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • International Behavioral Law with Professor Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law School
  • The Russia-Ukraine War and Enforcement of International Law with Naz Modirzadeh, Harvard Law School
  • International Norms and Global Governance with Professor Kathryn Sikkink, Harvard Kennedy School  

Additional Research Interests

  • Public International Law
  • Foreign Relations Law
  • International Relations Theory
  • International Dispute Resolution


  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program 2022-2023 (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • Pepperdine Caruso School of Law, U.S., LL.M. 2018
  • Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Ukraine, LL.B. (with honors) 2016

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Harvard Law School, 2022-2023, Visiting Researcher
  • Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center, 2022-2023, Transitional Justice Researcher

Additional Information

  • Languages: English, Ukrainian, Russian
  • Bar Admission: New York and Ukraine

Last Updated: June 17, 2024