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S.J.D. Candidate
rasat at


Veiled Dominion, The Stealth Rise of Authoritarian International Law

My SJD dissertation focuses on the largely overlooked phenomenon of the rise of authoritarian international law (AIL). In 2020, Professor Tom Ginsburg introduced the term AIL, drawing attention to this emerging framework and igniting scholarly debates. AIL broadly refers to “legal rhetoric, practices, and rules specifically designed to extend the survival and reach of authoritarian rule across space and/or time.” Today, the world is confronted by disturbing trends and the prominence of superpower authoritarian states as norm entrepreneurs with outsized power seeking to unsettle contemporary international law. Beyond challenging existing norm structures, authoritarian countries challenge areas where norms are absent or existing structural norms are weak. From cyberspace to internet governance, authoritarian norm entrepreneurs are shaping new norms. Such superpowers also prevent other bona fide actors from contesting their influence as norm entrepreneurs. They utilize political and nonpolitical networks to achieve their norm realization. By examining the role of norm entrepreneurs in the international arena through various international relations theories, I explore various ways authoritarian states can reshape international law to achieve an authoritarian trajectory that goes beyond conventional processes of international rulemaking. These unsettling developments will carry significant ramifications as various actors directly or indirectly contribute to the rise of AIL. I examine the regional ordering, fragmentation, and politicization of international law and its implications for AIL.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Authoritarian International Law and Alternatives with Professor Gerald L. Neuman, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • China and International Law with Professor William P. Alford, Harvard Law School
  • Regime Type, International Law and International Relations with Professor Beth Simmons, University of Pennsylvania

Additional Research Interests

  • International Relations Theories
  • Law, Technology, and Human Rights
  • Disinformation, Propaganda, Norm Generations
  • AI, Cybersecurity, and International Law
  • International Law Developments in Latin America


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate August 2024- Present
  • Oxford University Blavatnik School of Government, MPP 2023
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. 2016
  • Osgood Hall Law School of York University, 2012

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Visiting Fellow, Harvard Law School East Asian Legal Studies Program, 2024
  • Oxford University Reuben Scholar, 2022-2023
  • Yale Law School Tom & Andi Bernstein Human Rights Fellow 2021-2023
  • Yale University Jackson School of Global Affairs, World Fellow September 2021-December 2021
  • Teaching Fellow, Harvard University, 2016

Representative Publications

  • When Do We Call Russia’s Atrocities a Genocide? Lawfare Blog, May 2022
  • Uniting for Uyghurs at the United Nations, Just Security, December 2022

Recognition and Honors

  • Awarded Epic and Justice Award for promoting women’s rights by the New York Bar Association, March 2024
  • Named as one of the 50 Visionaries in Vox’s inaugural FuturPerfect 50 list of agents of change who are making the world a better place, November 2022.
  • Stanford University Democracy Leader, Stanford Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law Fellow, Summer 2022.

Additional Information

  • Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
  • Advisor to several human rights non-profits and initiatives
  • Languages: English, Uyghur, Chinese, Turkish
  • Bar Admission: New York State

Last Updated: June 17, 2024