Karen J. Alter’s research investigates how the proliferation of international legal mechanisms is changing international relations, the politics generated by the fact of overlapping and nonhierarchically organized international institutions (international regime complexity), and global capitalism and law.  Her award winning book The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights (Princeton University Press, 2014) provides a framework for comparing and understanding the influence of the twenty-four international courts, and for conceptualizing how different domains of domestic and international politics are transformed through the creation of international courts. Alter continues her research on international courts as co-director of the institutionalization research cluster at the iCourts Center of Excellence, Copenhagen University Faculty of Law, and through ongoing collaborative research on international courts in Latin America and Africa.  Alter also co-directs the Research Group on Global Capitalism and Law.

Alter is author of The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights (Princeton University Press, 2014), The European Court’s Political Power (Oxford University Press, 2009) and Establishing the Supremacy of European Law (Oxford University press, 2001) and more than forty-five articles and book chapters on the politics of international law, comparative international courts, and international regime complexity.  She is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook on International Adjudication (Oxford University Press, 2014) and co-author of International Legal Transplants: the Law and Politics of the Andean Tribunal of Justice (Oxford University Press, 2016, with Laurence Helfer).

Alter’s research has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Berlin, the Howard Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, the DAAD, and the Bourse Chateaubriand Scientifique. Alter is member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, serves on the editorial board of International Organization, American Journal of International Law, International Studies Review, Journal of International Dispute Settlement, Law and Social Inquiry and (previously) European Union Politics.

Alter teaches courses on International Law and International Relations, International Organizations, International Relations Theory, International Courts and Tribunals, and Ethics in International Affairs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She also participates in research training through the iCourts Center of Excellence, at the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law.