Around Oxford Around Oxford Law image

Janina Dill

photo of Janina Dill

Associate Research Fellow

Janina Dill's research focuses on international law in war, specifically its philosophical foundations and normative scope. She currently studies moral agency and individual legal responsibility in combat operations. Do the choices that individual agents at different levels of the chain of command face match the assumptions about moral agency underlying the law that criminalizes unlawful attack?

Furthermore, she is interested in and has previously worked on the emergence and demise of states in international law and the legal and political challenges associated with state failure, state building and self-determination.


Showing all[*] publications sorted by type, then year, author, title  [change this]

Showing all 8 of this author's publications currently held in our database
Change to sort them by year | title | name OR
Show only Recent | Selected publications

Journal Articles

J Dill and Henry Shue, 'Limiting killing in War: Military necessity and the St Petersburg assumption' (2012) Ethics and International Affairs (forthcoming) [...]

This paper suggests that the best available normative framework for guiding conduct in war rests on categories that do not echo the terms of an individual rights-based morality, but acknowledge the impossibility of rendering warfare fully morally justified. Avoiding the undue moralization of conduct in war is an imperative for a normative framework that strives to actually give behavioural guidance to combatants, most of whom will inevitably be ignorant of the moral status of the individuals they encounter on the battlefield and will often be uncertain or mistaken about the justice of their own cause. We identify the requirement of military necessity, applied on the basis of what we refer to as the “St. Petersburg assumption”, as the main principle according to which a combatant should act, regardless of which side or in which battlefield encounter she finds herself. This pragmatic normative framework enjoys moral traction for three reasons: first, in the circumstances of war it protects human life to a certain extent; second, it makes no false claims about the moral justification of individual conduct in combat operations; and, third, it fulfils morally important functions of law. However, the criterion of military necessity interpreted on the basis of the St. Petersburg assumption does not directly replicate fundamental moral prescriptions about the preservation of individual rights.

J Dill, 'Should international law ensure the moral acceptability of war?' (2012) Leiden Journal of International Law (forthcoming) [...]

Jeff McMahan’s challenge to the longstanding orthodoxy about the right way to conduct war has fallen on fertile grounds because it is an attempt to apply to the use of force between states a moral standard whose pertinence to international relations is decreasingly contestable and which regulation by international law (IL) is, therefore, under pressure to afford: the preservation of individual rights. This compelling endeavour is at an impasse given the admission of many ethicists that it is currently impossible for international humanitarian law (IHL) to regulate killing in war with a view to individuals’ liability. IHL’s failure to consistently protect individual rights, specifically its shortfall compared to human rights law, has led to challenges also by international lawyers. This paper identifies the features of war that ground the inability of IL to regulate it to a level of moral acceptability and characterises such situations as presenting an epistemically cloaked forced choice regarding the preservation of individual rights. Commitment to the above moral standard then means that IL should not prejudge the outcome of such quintessential wars and must, somewhat paradoxically, diverge from morality. In showing that many confrontations between states inevitably take the form of such epistemically cloaked forced choices, the paper contests the argument by revisionist just war theories that the failure of IL to track a deep morality of war is merely a function of contingent institutional desiderata. Symmetrical IHL with its current moral limitations has a continuing role to play in international relations.

J Dill, 'The Definition of a legitimate target of attack: Not more than a moral plea?' (2009) 103 Proceedings of Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law)


J Dill, Legitimate Targets? Social Construction, International Law and US Bombing Cambridge Studies in International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in October 2014 ( 2014)


J Dill, 'Puntland’s declaration of autonomy and Somaliland’s secession: two quests for self-governance in a failed state' in Marc Weller and Katherine Nobbs (eds), Asymmetric autonomy as a tool in ethnic conflict settlement (University of Pennsylvania Press 2010)

J Dill and Nicolas Lamp, 'Staatszerfall als neue außenpolitische Herausforderung' in Arne Niemann (ed), Herausforderungen an die deutsche und europäische Außenpolitik – Analysen und Politikempfehlungen (TUDpress Verlag der Wissenschaften Dresden 2005)

J Dill, 'The American way of bombing and international law: Two logics of warfare in tension' in Matthew Evangelista and Henry Shue (eds), The American Way of Bombing: How Ethical and Legal Norms Change ( (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, in press 0)

Working Papers

J Dill, 'Applying the principle of proportionality in combat operations' (2010) Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict - Policy Briefings


Teaching: Public International Law

Research: Public International Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law, Philosophy of International Law

Other details

Correspondence address:

Wolfson College
Linton Road
Oxford OX2 6UD

other affiliation(s):

Public International Law @ Oxford

Page updated on 13 May 2014 at 13:02 :: Send us feedback on this page

Policies on: cookies :: freedom of information :: data protection