Naz K. Modirzadeh ’02, the founding director of the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (PILAC), has been appointed as a professor of practice at Harvard Law School. She joined the HLS faculty as a lecturer on law in Fall 2014.
For more than a decade, Modirzadeh 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 legal frameworks governing terrorism, as well as Islamic law pertaining to protection of civilians. She frequently contributes to academic and professional initiatives in the areas of humanitarian action, counterterrorism, and the laws of war.
Harvard law School Dean Martha Minow said: “Naz is internationally known and so widely respected for her groundbreaking work on humanitarian law and armed conflict — two crucial topics affecting so many across the world. Her interests and expertise in human rights law, armed conflict, and Islamic law converge in profound and novel ways. A gifted teacher and strategic thinker, Naz models and conveys thoughtful and deep analysis that influences decision makers at the highest levels. How lucky we are that this alum is joining the law school faculty!”
Modirzadeh regularly advises and briefs international humanitarian organizations, United Nations agencies, and governments on issues related to international humanitarian law, human rights, and counterterrorism regulations concerning humanitarian assistance.
In addition to taking part in several expert advisory groups for UN research initiatives, she serves as a non-resident research fellow at the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the U.S. 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 Directors of the International Association for Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection.
“HLS is an extraordinary place to be thinking through the complex challenges of interpreting, developing, and applying international law in armed conflict,” said Modirzadeh. “I am thrilled and honored to be given the opportunity to work with our amazing students and faculty.”
Modirzadeh has written or co-written a variety of journal articles, reports, legal briefings, and case studies, including “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); and “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). She is also a contributor to the Lawfare blog.
In 2010, she received the Lieber Prize of the American Society of International Law for her article “The Dark Sides of Convergence: A Pro-Civilian Critique of the Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Law in Armed Conflict,” Naval War College, International Law Studies (Blue Book), 86th Volume, pp. 349–410.
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.
She previously worked for the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research and for Human Rights Watch, and served as assistant professor and director of the International Human Rights Law graduate program at the American University in Cairo.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.