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‘Liability, Immunity, and the Benefits of War: New Perspectives on the Moral Status on Civilians', Florence 1 – 2 September 2016

The 7th Annual Conference of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict
Hosted by: European University Institute

Prof. Saba Bazargan (UCSD), Prof. Yitzhak Benbaji (Tel Aviv), Prof. Elke Schwarz (UCL), Dr. Lars Christie (Oxford), Dr. Heather Roff (Oxford/ASU), Prof. Alec Walen (Rutgers), Prof. Victor Tadros (Warwick), Prof. Adil Haque (Rutgers)

To register please email Ms. Martina Selmi at the European University Institute: Space is limited, and to ensure registration please register before August 1, 2016.

A key task for revisionist just war theory has been to investigate the conditions under which individual agents can come to lose their rights against non-consensual harm. By and large, Just War Theorists recognize forfeiture arising from moral or causal responsibility for a wrongful threat as the central mechanism by which one can lose rights. Recently, however, a number of theorists have suggested that rights against harm can be lost or weakened in other ways besides forfeiture. One proposal is that agents can come to lack rights against harm in virtue of their involuntarily incurred enforceable duties. Another is that agents can have their rights against harm weakened when these rights make other non-liable agents worse off. A third attempt notes that if one is an expected beneficiary of a harmful preventive action, one might have weakened rights against collateral harm compared to other uninvolved agents. Relatedly, another proposal suggests that agents who fail to disgorge benefits derived from injustice can come to lose rights against preventive harm.

These proposals attempt to provide new justifications for inflicting non-consensual harm beyond the familiar conceptions of forfeiture and lesser evil. Further, they challenge the orthodox view that causal contribution to a wrongful threat is necessary for the loss or weakening of an agent’s rights against harm. As such, they all have potentially radical implications for the rights of bystanders (and, by extension, civilians’ moral immunity to intentional harming in war). A central aim of the conference, then, will be to assess whether and to what extent individuals can lose rights against harm through circumstances entirely beyond their control.

We will also explore the related question of whether these ways of weakening or losing one’s rights are restricted to rights against certain types of harm. For example, we might think that these justifications cannot weaken our rights against the infliction of direct physical harm, but can nevertheless weaken our rights against other sorts of harm, such as harms imposed by cyber attacks, boycotts and sanctions, and invasions of privacy through surveillance. This work thus has implications for the range of permissible means of fighting wars.


Workshop on "Humanitarian Action and Ethics"
26 and 27 May 2016, Sciences Po Paris

The workshop aims at engaging a discussion on humanitarian ethics drawing from personal experience, empirical research, and/or conceptual inquiry in order to approach creatively and constructively ongoing issues in the humanitarian field today. The workshop particularly focuses on lived experience of humanitarian actors and invites discussion on relationships within humanitarian practice

Call for Abstracts here

An event part of the EU-funded COST Action on Disaster Bioethics and supported by ELAC-Sciences Po Paris.


‘Legitimate Authority and Political Violence’, Stockholm 28 – 29 August, 2015

The 6th Annual Conference of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict is hosted this year by the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace at Långholmen Hotel, Stockholm 28 – 29 August, 2015.

Speakers: Kimberley Brownlee (Warwick), Thomas Christiano (Arizona), Helen Frowe (Stockholm), Jonathan Parry (Stockholm), Massimo Renzo (King's College London), David Rodin (Oxford and EUI), Malcolm Thorburn (Toronto), Daniel Viehoff (Sheffield).

Respondents: Ludvig Beckman (Stockholm), Krister Bykvist (Stockholm), Andreas Carlsson (Norwegian Defence Ethics Council), Lisa Hecht (Stockholm), Adam Humphreys (Reading), Elena Namli (Uppsala), Michael Robillard (Connecticut), Daniel Statman (Haifa).

ELAC 6th annual conference is financially supported by the Individualisation of War program (IoW)

Registration: now open - please register here: Registration closes on July 26, but places are limited. Registration is free and open to all, and includes refreshments, lunch on the 28th and 29th, and the conference dinner on the 28th.

More information is available on the Stockholm Centre’s website.

Please direct enquiries to Jonathan Parry (


Transatlantic Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict
Date: Wednesday, 15 July, 2015 to Thursday, 16 July, 2015
The Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations Programme and the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict are hosting a 'Transatlantic Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict'  co-sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security & Law at the University of Texas and South Texas College of Law, Houston.
The Transatlantic Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict is entering its third year, having begun in the summer of 2013 with a conference that assembled a broad mix of academic, military, and governmental experts from both North America and the United Kingdom, for a roundtable workshop examining fundamental questions of international law relating to military operations. The event placed a particular emphasis on the potential for clashes—and for reconciliation—in circumstances seemingly implicating both International Humanitarian Law (a.k.a., the Law of Armed Conflict) and International Human Rights Law. In 2014, the program expanded to include participants from Continental Europe and Israel and directed its focus on a set of emerging issues that arise in contexts of low-intensity conflict, special operations, and covert action.
The 2015 workshop will again bring together senior government officials, senior military with leading and emerging academics from he UK, continental Europe, North America and Israel. The first day will focus on targeting in armed conflict (the issue of direct participation in hostilities); humanitarian access in armed conflict and the foreign intervention in non-international armed conflicts. Discussion will centre on issues that have arisen in practice in a number of recent conflicts, as well an examination of the position taken by states involved in those conflicts. The second day will concentrate on the judicial application of international humanitarian law. Participants will examine how IHL is applied by international tribunals charged principally with the application of other bodies of law, namely human rights law and international criminal law. There will also be discussion about how issues of IHL arise before national courts and the extent to which national courts have developed that body of law.
This is not a public event and attendance is by invitation only.


"The 21st Century Belligerent's Trilemma", a talk by Dr. Janina Dill
2 June 2015 - Old Library in All Souls
Dr. Dill, Associate Director of ELAC will be delivering a talk
titled: “The 21st Century Belligerent’s Trilemma,” which will address
the effectiveness of International Humanitarian Law in regulating the
conduct of warfare. We are particularly lucky to welcome Dr. Dill, as
this talk will be Dr. Dill’s last Oxford lecture before joining LSE in
the fall.
The talk will be held on Tuesday June 2, from 20:30 to 22:00, in the
Old Library of All Souls College.


Book Launch: Legitimate Targets? Social Construction, International Law and US Bombing
13 November 2014
, 4.30-6.30pm
Manor Road Building, Seminar Room C
Dr Janina Dill will introduce her book recently published by Cambridge University Press as part of the series Cambridge Studies in International relations. Her talk will be followed by two comments of Dr Adam Bower and Dr Thomas Simpson and a discussion in the audience.
Book summary: Based on an innovative theory of international law, Janina Dill’s book investigates the effectiveness of international humanitarian law (IHL) in regulating the conduct of warfare. Through a comprehensive examination of the IHL defining a legitimate target of attack, Dill reveals a controversy among legal and military professionals about the ‘logic’ according to which belligerents ought to balance humanitarian and military imperatives: the logics of sufficiency or efficiency. Law prescribes the former, but increased recourse to international law in US air warfare has led to targeting in accordance with the logic of efficiency. The logic of sufficiency is morally less problematic, yet neither logic satisfies contemporary expectations of effective IHL or legitimate warfare. Those expectations demand that hostilities follow a logic of liability, which proves impracticable. This book proposes changes to international law, but concludes that according to widely shared normative beliefs, on the twenty-first-century battlefield there are no truly legitimate targets

SPECIAL EVENT: Recent developments at the United Nations Human Rights Council on the responsibilities of corporations towards human rights
24 October 2014, University of Oxford, Location TBC
Lawyers and corporate advisors, civil society, international practitioners, treaty
negotiators, business representatives and others will gather at Oxford University to discuss these recent developments.
Please get in touch with Vuyelwa Kuuya to register:

Humanitarian Access in 21st Century Armed Conflict: Legal and Practical Lessons from Syria
17 October 2014, 1-2.30pm
Manor Road Building, Seminar Room G
As the first event this year in the seminar series “Axis of Protection: Human Rights in International Law” Emanuela Gillard will talk about violations of and controversies around the international law on humanitarian access. She will reflect in particular on the lessons and implications of the fact that in the ongoing civil war in Syria non-governmental and governmental organisations have systematically been prevented from delivering aid to the displaced population.

The Prospects of Forcible Alternatives to War in the Israel-Gaza Conflict
16 October 2014
, 3-5pm
St Peter's College, Dorfman Centre
Dr Eliav Lieblich from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya will talk about the limitations of large-scale use of collective violence (war) as a tool for advancing a long-term calm between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. His lecture will be followed by a comment of Professor Dire Tladi from the University of Pretoria and a discussion with the audience.

Fifth Annual ELAC Workshop on War (2014)

The theme of the Fifth Annual ELAC Workshop on War was "Forcible Alternatives to War" and took place 5-6 September 2014 at Merton College.

You can listen to the discussant and the authors' response by clicking on the title of the session.

Friday 5 September - Day 1

Introduction to the Workshop and Session 1: Targeted Killing as an Alternative to War: The Problem of the Fair Distribution of Risk, Andrew Altman
Discussant: Tamar Meisels, Chair: Janina Dill

Session 2: The Ethics of Arming the Rebels, James Pattison
Discussant: Christopher Finlay, Chair: Cecile Fabre

Session 3: The Problem with War, Janina Dill
Discussant: Adam Humphreys, Chair: Dapo Akande

Session 4: International Institutional Regulation of Lethal Drones, Allen Buchanan (by skype) and Robert O. Keohane
Discussant: Janina Dill, Chair: David Rodin

Saturday 6 September - Day 2

Session 1: Jus ad Vim and the Moral Dilemmas of Limited Force, Daniel Brunstetter
Discussant: Heather Roff-Perkins, Chair: Helen Frowe

Session 2: The Use of Drones and the Ethics of Defensive Force, Helen Frowe
Discussant: Bradley J. Strawser, Chair: Dapo Akande

Session 3: The Ethics of Military and Police Use of Force in Armed Conflict: A Comparative Analysis, Seumas Miller
Discussant: Adil Haque, Chair: Henry Shue

Concluding Panel: Force in international relations: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?
Discussants: Henry Shue, Yitzhak Benbaji, Janina Dill, Dapo Akande


Transatlantic Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict, co-convened by the ICRC, ELAC and the Human Rights Programme

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), ELAC and the Human Rights Programme for Future Generations (HRFG) co-convened the
Second Annual Transatlantic Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict at the University of Oxford.

The Workshop gathered a group of legal scholars, experts and practitioners from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Israel to engage in detailed discussion of a range of issues relating to the law that applies in situations of armed conflict.

To read more about it, please see the ICRC mission in London's page, the blog Intercross from the ICRC delegation in the US, and the announcement by Dapo Akande on EJIL:Talk!

The Workshop Report is now available and can be accessed here.



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