Aslı Ü. Bâli

Promise Institute Inaugural Faculty Director
Distinguished Research Affiliate

The inaugural Faculty Director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights and also previously Director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, Aslı Bâli currently teaches Public International LawInternational Human Rights, a seminar on the Laws of War, a Perspectives seminar on Third World Approaches to International Law and a Law through Scholarship seminar on Methods and Theories of International and Comparative Law.

Bâli currently serves as co-chair of the Advisory Board for the Middle East Division of Human Rights Watch and as chair of the Task Force on Civil and Human Rights for the Middle East Studies Association. She has also been a visiting professor at Yale Law School and at Columbia Law School.

Bâli is a graduate of Williams College, the University of Cambridge where she was a Herschel Smith Scholar, Yale Law School and Princeton University, where she earned her Ph.D. in Politics. During law school, she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and the Yale Journal of International Law, and as an articles editor of the Yale Journal of Human Rights & Development. After law school, she worked for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, where she specialized in international transactions and sovereign representation.

Bâli’s principal scholarly interests lie in two areas: public international law —including human rights law and the law of the international security order — and comparative constitutional law, with a focus on the Middle East. Her current research examines questions of federalism and decentralization for the purposes of addressing self-determination demands and governance goals in the transitions currently underway in the Middle East. She is also completing a project examining the post-Cold War erosion of the United Nations Charter prohibition on the use of force.

She has previously written on constitutional design in religiously divided societies, the nuclear non-proliferation regime, international legal arguments concerning humanitarian intervention, race and empire in the formation, interpretation and enforcement of international law, and the role of judicial independence in constitutional transitions. Bâli’s recent scholarship has appeared in the American Journal of International Law UnboundInternational Journal of Constitutional LawUniversity of Chicago Law ReviewUCLA Law ReviewYale Journal of International LawCornell Journal of International LawVirginia Journal of International LawVanderbilt Journal and Transnational LawLaw and Social InquiryGeopoliticsStudies in LawPolitics and Society and book chapters in volumes published by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Elgar Press. She is co-editor of Constitution Writing, Religion and Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and Federalism and Decentralization in the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Articles & Chapters

  • Race and Empire: Legal Theory Within, Through and Across National Border (with E. Tendayi Achiume), 67 UCLA Law Review 1386 (2021). Full Text
  • Artificial States and the Remapping of the Middle East, 53 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 405 3 ed. (2020). Full Text
  • Constitutionalism and the American Imperial Imagination (with Aziz Rana), 85 University of Chicago Law Review 257 (2018).
  • Designing Constitutions in Religiously Divided Societies (with Hanna Lerner), in Constitution Writing, Religion and Democracy, (edited by Asli Ü. Bâli and Hanna Lerner, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017).
  • Introduction (with Hanna Lerner), in Constitution Writing, Religion and Democracy, (edited by Asli Ü. Bâli and Hanna Lerner, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017).
  • Turkish Constitutionalism and “Models” for Arab Reforms, in Constitutionalism, Human Rights and Islam after the Arab Spring, (edited by Rainer Grote & Tilmann Roeder, Oxford Univ. Press, 2016).
  • The Wrong Kind of Intervention in Syria (with Aziz Rana), in The Land of Blue Helmets: The United Nations and the Arab World, (edited by Karim Makdisi and Vijay Prashad, Univ. of California Press, 2016).
  • Sykes Picot and “Artificial States”, 110 American Journal Of International Law Unbound (Sept. 2016). Online Symposium on Sykes Picot.
  • Shifting into Reverse: Turkish Constitutionalism Under the AKP, 19 Theory & Event (Jan. 2016).
  • Constitutional Design Without Constitutional Moments: Lessons from Religiously Divided Societies (with Hanna Lerner), 49 Cornell International Law Journal 227 (2016). Full Text
  • Negotiating Non-Proliferation: International Law and Delegation in the Iranian Nuclear Crisis, 61 UCLA Law Review 232 (2014). Full Text
  • Courts and Constitutional Transition: Lessons from the Turkish Case, 11 International Journal of Constitutional Law 666-701 (2013). Abstract
  • Legality and Legitimacy in the Global Order: The Changing Landscape of Nuclear Nonproliferation, in Legality and Legitimacy in the Global Order, (edited by Richard Falk, Mark Juergensmeyer & Vesselin Popovski, Oxford Univ. Press, 2012).
  • Pax Arabica?: Provisional Sovereignty and Intervention in the Arab Uprisings, 42 California Western International Law Journal 321 (2012). Full Text
  • The Perils of Judicial Independence: Constitutional Transition and the Turkish Example, 52 Virginia Journal of International Law 235-320 (2012). Full Text
  • American Overreach: Strategic Interests and Millennial Ambitions in the Middle East (with Aziz Raa), 15 Geopolitics 210-39 (2010). Full Text
  • From Subjects to Citizens? The Shifting Paradigm of Electoral Authoritarianism in the Middle East, 1 Middle East Law & Governance 38-89 (2009). Abstract
  • Iranian Nuclear Policy, in At the Nuclear Precipice: Catastrophe or Transformation?, (edited by Richard Falk and David Krieger, Palgrave, 2009).
  • Scapegoating the Vulnerable: Preventive Detention of Immigrants in America’s “War on Terror, 38 Studies in Law, Politics and Society 25-69 (2006). Full Text
  • Justice Under Occupation: Rule of Law and the Ethics of Nation-Building in Iraq, 30 Yale Journal of International Law 431 (2005). Full Text
  • International Law & Rights-Based Remedies: Settlements in the Israel-Palestine Conflict, 28 Hastings International and Comparative Law Review 387 (2005).
  • International Law and the Challenge of Terrorism, 9 Journal of Islamic Law and Culture (2004).
  • Changes in Immigration Law and Practice After September 11: A Practitioner’s Perspective, 2 Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal 161 (2003).
  • Stretching the Limits of International Law: The Challenge of Terrorism, 8 ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law 403 (2002).


Constitution Writing, Religion and Democracy (edited by Asli Ü. Bâli and Hanna Lerner). Cambridge Univ. Press (2017).

Other Publications

  • Independence Referenda Through the Prism of Kurdistan, I-CONnect Column (Dec. 2017). Full Text
  • The Force of Nations (with Jessica Peake), L.A. Lawyer (Dec. 2017).