Elena Baylis

Professor of Law


Professor Elena Baylis is an expert in post-conflict justice. Her scholarship focuses on the intersections between international criminal law and rule of law initiatives, the role of transnational networks, and the interactions between international, national, and sub-national institutions and communities. Her current research concerns donor support for funding transitional justice and the relationships between hybrid courts and national justice systems. She has conducted field research and worked on legal education/rule of law initiatives in several post-conflict states, including Kosovo, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her research has been commissioned by the International Center for Transitional Justice and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Professor Baylis also studies U.S. law and policy issues. As in the international context, her domestic research concerns the points of engagement between international, national and local actors. She has published papers on U.S. national security, immigration, and education policy, as well as on the marriage equality litigation.

Professor Baylis has a joint appointment with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and is the Director of the Semester in DC Program, in which she teaches Law and GSPIA students. Her courses leverage our Washington, DC office by involving Washington-based practitioners to discuss law-and policy-making processes and to mentor participating students. Professor Baylis’s teaching combines elements of experiential learning with on-line and distance learning technologies and in-class simulations and exercises. 

Before joining the University of Pittsburgh, Professor Baylis taught at Mekelle University Law Faculty in Ethiopia as a Visiting Assistant Professor from the University of Alabama Law School. She also practiced civil litigation and advised clients on foreign policy matters with Shea & Gardner in Washington, D.C. and clerked for Judge Mariana Pfalezer of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Professor Baylis is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she was awarded the Raphael Lemkin Prize for the best paper on international human rights. She earned her B.A. summa cum laude from the University of Oregon Honors College.

Key/Recent Publications

Scholarly Articles and Essays

Book Chapters

  • Transitional Justice and Development Aid, in Justice in Context: Paradigms of State and Conflict (R. Duthie, ed., International Center for Transitional Justice, forthcoming 2017) (commissioned book chapter), https://ssrn.com/abstract=2824581.
  • National Security and Political AsylumImmigration, Integration and Security: America and Europe in Comparative Perspective (A.C. d'Appollonia & S. Reich eds., 2008), http://digital.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/t/text/text-idx?idno=31735062135896;view=toc;c=pittpress.
  • The Inevitable Impunity of Suicide TerroristsEvil, Law and The State: Perspectives on State Power and Violence (J. Parry ed., 2006).


  • American Society of International Law Research Forum, Invited Panel Chair/Discussant, Armed Conflict and International Law panel (November 2016).
  • International Law Weekend, Invited Speaker, Empirical Research on International Legal Education panel (October 2016).
  • “International Criminal Justice and Transitional Justice: Tensions and Synergies” roundtable, co-sponsored by ASIL International Criminal Law Interest Group, ASIL Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Interest Group and Vance Center for International Justice, held at New York City Bar Association, Moderator and Organizer (October 2016).
  • Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers 5th Annual Conference, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, Speaker (September 2016).
  • War Crimes Research Office 20th Anniversary Conference on Prosecuting Serious International Crimes:  Exploring the Intersection between International and Domestic Justice Efforts, Speaker, Practical Guidance for Constructive Engagement between International and Domestic Justice Practitioners panel (March 2016).
  • Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender and Violence: Crossing Boundaries and Bridging Divides Working Conference, Organizer and Participant, University of Pittsburgh (March 2016).

Other Activities

  • Vice Chair, Rule of Law, American Bar Association International Law Section
  • Secretary, International Criminal Law Interest Group, American Society of International Law
  • Advisory Trustee, Brother’s Brother Foundation
  • Advisory Council Member, Brother’s Brother of the National Capital Area
  • Consultant, International Center for Transitional Justice (2015-16)
  • Co-Investigator, competitively awarded grant to support interdisciplinary gender and violence research, Integrative Social Science Research Initiative, University of Pittsburgh (2015–16)
  • Principal Investigator, Annual Grant for research on post-conflict justice networks, U.S. Institute of Peace (2009)
  • Organizer, Socio-Legal Methods in International Law Workshop (2008)
  • Participant, Immigration and Security Initiative, University of Pittsburgh and Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (Sciences-Po) (2005-06)


Programs & Courses