The driving concern of my research is to illuminate how international and comparative law interact with politics in the context of armed conflict and post-conflict reconstruction. In my research, I employ multi-method and interdisciplinary approaches to answer questions about law, conflict, and peace.

Within this broad area, my book project analyzes the role of international organizations and other foreign actors in post-conflict constitution-making, and how constitutional arrangements can contribute to other outcomes such as the duration of peace. This research agenda draws from insights in constitutional theory and social science to conceptualize international constitution-makers as an epistemic community, and to analyze conflict-related constitution-making as a complex bargaining process.

In addition to my research on international involvement in post-conflict constitution-making, I also conduct research on international humanitarian law, international courts, and Islamic international law

Research Interests

International Organizations, International and Comparative Law, Armed Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Constitutional Design, International Involvement in Domestic Politics

Book Project

Constituting Peace: Foreign Actors, Constitution-Making, and Armed Conflict

In the past 25 years, over 60 countries have adopted or amended their constitution during or immediately following an armed conflict. A majority of these constitutional changes were instigated as a part of a conflict resolution process, with active support from external actors. Given the significant influence that these foreign actors can wield, a systematic investigation of their role is crucial to understanding both peace and constitution-making outcomes. My project assesses how international organizations and other foreign actors support and advise constitution-making efforts and the role that international involvement in constitution-making can play in conflict management.

Using cross-national statistical analyses with an original dataset, expert interviews, and illustrative case vignettes, I assess how different types of international support for constitutional reform encourage different substantive outcomes. International actors form an epistemic community with shared values and ideas of what constitutional best-practices look like – this community frames the practice of constitutional advising and the substance of international constitutional support. First, I contend that international actors can impact constitutional substance indirectly, through their support of peace agreements, as well as directly when international actors explicitly support and advise the constitution-making process and substance of the constitution itself. Since questions about group autonomy, decentralization of power, and federalism often dominate conversations about civil war settlement and long term conflict outcomes, this project employs the example of constitutional provisions on federalism to illustrate the mechanisms that can link international involvement with substantive outcomes. Second, I argue that constitution-making after armed conflict can reduce the likelihood of armed conflict recurrence by setting expectations for long term, aspirational change and by institutionalizing conflict termination and elite bargains into supreme law.


Peer-Reviewed Publications

Emilia Justyna Powell and Ilana Rothkopf. 2022. “Domestic Constitutional Courts and the International Court of Justice 1946-2012 : Islamic Law StatesJournal of Law and Courts 10(2).

Emilia Justyna Powell and Ilana Rothkopf. 2020. “Constitutional Courts and Rule of Law in Islamic Law States: A Comparative Study.Journal of Constitutional Law in the Middle East and North Africa 1(1): 64-87.

Ilana Rothkopf. 2019. “International Humanitarian Law and Non-State Practice in Armed Conflict: Combatant’s Privilege and Kurdish Fighters in Syria.”  The Journal of Conflict and Security Law 24(2): 271-296.

Policy and Public Engagement

Ilana Rothkopf. 2022. “New and Reformed Constitutions: Methods for Legalizing Peace Agreements.” Peace Accords Matrix Peace Policy Brief Series, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies

Paul Friesen, Ilana Rothkopf, Maggie Shum, and Luis Schenoni, and Romelia Solano. 2020. “American Democracy at Risk: A Global Comparative Perspective” Global Policy Initiative Report, Keough School of Global Affairs.

Emilia Justyna Powell, Ilana Rothkopf, and Erin Shang. 2018. “Constitutional Courts in Muslim-Majority Countries and Support for the International Court of Justice/ Les cours constitutionnelles dans les pays a majorite musulmane et le soutien apporte a la Cour Internationale de Justice”   Review of the Constitutional Court/ Revue du Conseil Constitutionnel 11

Ilana Rothkopf, Paul Friesen, Maggie Shum, and Luis Schenoni, and Romelia Solano. 2020. “Global experts are more likely to be worried about electoral violence in the presidential election than their US counterpartsLSE USAPP – American Politics and Policy Blog, October 30, 2020.

Romelia Solano, Paul Friesen, Ilana Rothkopf, Maggie Shum, and Luis Schenoni. 2020. “Four out of Five Electoral Experts are Concerned about a Peaceful Transfer of PowerMischiefs of Faction, October 27, 2020.

Book Reviews

Ilana Rothkopf. 2020. Review of Constitution-Making Under UN Auspices: Fostering Dependency in Sovereign Lands by Vijayashri Sripati. Human Rights Quarterly 43(2): 423-426.

Ilana Rothkopf. 2018. Review of Haredi Masculinities between the Yeshiva, the Army, Work and Politics: The Sage, The Warrior and the Entrepreneur by Yohai Hakak Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 17(1): 130-131. 

Works in Progress

Under Review

“Introducing the International Involvement in Constitution-Making Dataset” (Revise and Resubmit)

Manuscripts in Preparation

“We the People(s): International Organizations, Conflict-Related Constitutions and Conflict (non) Recurrence”

“Perpetual Transitions: Constitutions, Transitional Justice Mechanisms, and Peace Agreements.” with Diana Isabel Güiza Gómez

Research in Progress

“Federalism, Secession, and External Support for Conflict Constitution-Making.”

“Tell me about the #jobmarket: Gendered discussions of the political science profession on twitter.” with Angela Chesler

“Religious reservations on international treaty commitments.” with Emilia Justyna Powell

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