Robert C. Blitt

Professor Robert Blitt
  • Associate Professor of Law

  • B.A. magna cum laude, McGill University
    M.A., University of Toronto
    J.D., University of Toronto
    LL.M., University of Toronto


  • Location: Room 365
  • Phone Number: 865-974-6855
  • Email:
  • Courses Taught: Public International Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, International Human Rights Law, Freedom of Religion, European Union Law, International Criminal Tribunals, International Organizations
  • Additional Information: SSRN


Publications of Robert C. Blitt

Professor Blitt joined the faculty as an Associate Professor in 2007. He came to Tennessee from Washington, DC, where he served as International Law Specialist for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bi-partisan agency created by Congress to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad. Prior to joining the Commission, Professor Blitt spent over five years in the Middle East, where, among other things, he served with the Department of International Agreements in Israel’s Ministry of Justice, clerked for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, and directed projects at Physicians for Human Rights (Israel). In 2002, Professor Blitt was a Rabin Fellow for Peace and Tolerance at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Professor Blitt’s scholarship explores the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in promoting international human rights norms, NGO regulation, and issues related to the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief. His current research projects include studying the horizontal and vertical movement of anti-constitutional ideas both across states and within the international system. Among his writings, Professor Blitt has produced a detailed human rights analysis of Iraq’s 2005 constitution, as well as other articles including The Religion-State Relationship and the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Comparative Textual Analysis of the Constitutions of Predominantly Muslim Countries, and Who Will Watch the Watchdogs: The Case for Regulating International Human Rights Nongovernmental Organizations. His published writing is available through the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).

Professor Blitt has lectured and presented his research findings in the United States and abroad, including at international conferences in Australia, China, Israel, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom. He has published op-eds and been interviewed and quoted in national and international media outlets, most recently on subjects including the Arab Spring, defamation of religionIraq’s constitutionfreedom of religion or belief under international law, and U.S. policies relating to detention and torture.

Professor Blitt is co-chair of the American Society for International Law's Human Rights Interest Group and is an executive committee member of the American Association of Law Schools' Section on International Human Rights. He is also a founding board member of the University of Tennessee’s Center for the Study of Social Justice as well as an Advisory Committee member for UT’s Program in Judaic Studies.


Biography of Robert C. Blitt

Defamation of Religion: Rumors of Its Death are Greatly Exaggerated, 62:2 Case Western Reserve Law Review, 347-397

Russia’s “Orthodox” Foreign Policy: The Growing Influence of the Russian Orthodox Church In Shaping Russia’s Policies Abroad, 33:2 U. Pa. J. Int’l L. 363-460. SSRN Link

Whither Secular Bear: The Russian Orthodox Church’s Strengthening Influence on Russia’s Domestic and Foreign Policy, Fides et Libertas 2011

The Bottom up Journey of “Defamation of Religion” from Muslim States to the United Nations: A Case Study of the Migration of Anti-Constitutional Ideas, in Special Issue Human Rights: New Possibilities/New Problems (56 Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 1), 121-211 (Austin Sarat ed., 2011). SSRN link

Should New Bills of Rights Address Emerging International Human Rights Norms? The Challenge of “Defamation of Religion”, 9 NW. U. J. Int’l Hum. Rts 1. SSRN link

One New President, One New Patriarch, and a Generous Disregard for the Constitution:  A Recipe for the Continuing Decline of Secular Russia, 43 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 1337. SSRN Link

Babushka Said Two Things—"It Will Either Rain or Snow; it Either Will or Will Not”: An Analysis of the Provisions and Human Rights Implications of Russia’s New Law on Nongovernmental Organizations as Told Through Eleven Russian Proverbs, 40 Geo. Wash. Int’l L. Rev. 1 . SSRN link

How to Entrench a De Facto State Church in Russia: A Guide in Progress, 2008 BYU L. Rev. 707 (2008). SSRN link

Analysis of the Republic of Tajikistan’s Draft Law “About Freedom of Conscience and Religious Unions”, May 2008 (co-authored with Prof. Cole Durham and produced for the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law). SSRN link

The Religion-State Relationship and the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Comparative Textual Analysis of the Constitutions of Predominantly Muslim Countries, 36 Geo. J. Int’l L. 947 (2005). (co-authored with Tad Stahnke and reprinted in the International Journal of Civil Society Law). SSRN link

Who Will Watch the Watchdogs? Human Rights NGOs and the Case for Regulation, 10 Buff. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 261 (2005). (reprinted in the International Journal of Civil Society Law). SSRN link

International Legal Developments in Review 2005: Iraq—The Constitution, 40 Int’l Law. 605 (2006).

International Legal Developments in Review 2004: Iraq—Human Rights, 39 Int’l Law. 605 (2005).

Works in Progress

Restrictions on Civil Society and the Migration of Anti-constitutional Ideas: Recent Regulations Against Nongovernmental Organizations in Ethiopia and Russia

Beyond Ruggie's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Charting an Approach to Minimizing Corporate Liability for Human Rights Harm 


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