Skip to main content
Ilya Rudyak


Research Interests

  • Criminal Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • Law and Morality
  • Military Law
  • Law and the Holocaust

Ilya Rudyak

Ilya joined Penn Law S.J.D. program in 2013 and was designated as the 2013-2015 Fox Fellow, after graduating with distinction and earning the LL.M. Excellence Award from Penn Law’s LL.M program (which he joined in 2012 as a Dean’s Scholar). In his doctoral studies, Ilya pursues his primary scholarly interests that lie at the intersection of criminal law theory and IHL. Moreover, he actively seeks opportunities to combine his theoretical research with real-world practical endeavors.

During Ilya’s time at Penn, he had the honor to serve as the Legislative Director of the Delaware Criminal Code Recodification (a comprehensive criminal code recodification project commissioned by the state of Delaware from the law school’s Criminal Law Research Group (CLRG)), and as the Director of Research of the law school’s national security Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL). Ilya was also a member of CLRG’s American Criminal Code Project, and CERL’s inaugural Fellow in National Security and Ethics.

Before coming to Penn, Ilya earned his joint LL.B. degree in law and psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, practiced litigation with Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal, one of Israel’s leading law firms, worked as an educator at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and served as the Head of Weapons Department aboard Israel Navy Dolphin Class submarine.


Ilya Rudyak’s dissertation project aims to develop criminal law and begins exploring an original thesis that international humanitarian law (IHL) can benefit from the insights of empirical desert theory (EDT) – a contemporary utilitarian theory in criminal law. The dissertation starts by examining numerous normatively-oriented criticisms raised against EDT in the criminal law literature. It demonstrates first that EDT is substantially more resilient than previously realized to criticisms alleging its potential immorality. Next, it presents an innovative proposal to reconceptualize EDT by incorporating into its scientific methodology a minimalistic normative commitment to equality and non-discrimination, and shows how the proposed reconceptualization provides EDT with further, more robust safeguards against normatively-oriented criticisms. The dissertation’s final part, then, develops the argument that reconceptualized EDT’s insights can be exceptionally valuable in the context of IHL and uniquely effective in predicting and influencing combat soldiers’ behavior on and off the battlefield.

Dissertation Committee

Paul H. Robinson, Colin S. Diver Professor of Law (supervisor)

Representative Publications

Promoting Equality Through Empirical Desert, forthcoming, Texas A&M Law Review, Vol. 7, Issue 1 (2019)

The American Criminal Code: General Defenses, 7 Journal of Legal Analysis 37–150 (2015) (with Paul H. Robinson, Matthew Kussmaul, Camber Stoddard, and Andreas Kuersten) (peer-reviewed)

Final Report to the Delaware General Assembly’s Criminal Justice Improvement Committee (2019) (with Matthew Kussmaul, John S. Grimm, and Ashley Tucker) (Vol. 1, Vol. 2)

Report of the Delaware Criminal Law Recodification Project (2017) (with Paul H. Robinson, Matthew Kussmaul, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Criminal Law Research Group)

Women’s Refugee Commission Submission to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations of List of Issues on the Rights of Unaccompanied Alien Children Affected by Immigration Detention in the United States (2012) (with Robyn Crowter and Cochav Elkayam-Levy)


Awards & Fellowships

Fox Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania Law School (2014)

Abraham Slavitt and Sylvan Cohen Scholarship for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law (2014)

National Security and Ethics Fellowship, Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School (2014)

Fox Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania Law School (2013)

European Society Karen Iest Award, University of Pennsylvania Law School (2013)

Pro Bono Project Legacy Award, University of Pennsylvania Law School (2013)

William Donat Fellowship, Auschwitz Jewish Center (2013)

Dean’s Scholarship, University of Pennsylvania Law School (2012-2013)

Hon. Judge Tebi Miller Award for Excellence in a Joint Degree Program, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law (2009)

Dean’s List Citation, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law (2008)