If you wish to participate in this (remote) seminar, RSVP is necessary. Please complete the *form before noon Monday 8 February. Please note that if you register after noon, a link will not be sent to you.  Prior to the Tuesday seminar, you will be sent a link to join.  Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome. PIL Discussion Group Convenors: Xiaotian (Kris) Yu and Natasha Holcroft-Emmes.

Philip Alston’s deep worries about the institutionalization of the tactic of targeting killing, the ensuing extension of warfare and its corrosive consequences for any meaningful possibility of scrutinizing the legality of such strikes, proved far-sighted. The chapter focuses on the accompanying re-articulation of the right of self-defense by states active in the war on terror and demonstrate that it has fashioned a set of interconnected legal propositions that we call “revisionist.” This revisionist framework, we show, cumulatively engenders a highly permissive framework for the preventive, extraterritorial, use of lethal force against individuals and non-state groups, with a geographically and temporally expansive scope. We do not argue that this permissive version of self-defence is now lex lata or even de lege ferenda. We also distinguish ourselves from the view that the revisionist framework departs from “the ‘old days’ when the law was allegedly certain” – that is, when the law required a high threshold of effective control by the territorial state over the non-state armed group. Instead, building on Robert Brandom’s Hegelian account of the determinateness of legal concepts, we frame the revisionist framework as a historically-embedded process of determination of the new content of the concept of self-defense. The chapter shows that these conceptual revisions bring with them a reconfiguration of the structure of legal relationships presupposed by the jus ad bellum’s concept of proportionality, and a new (in)determinacy which renders the concept more permissive than constraining.

Professor Nehal Bhuta holds the Chair of Public International Law at University of Edinburgh and is Co-Director of the Edinburgh Centre for International and Global Law. He previously held the Chair of Public International Law at the European University Institute in Florence, where was also Co-Director of the Institute's Academy of European Law. He is a member of the editorial boards of the European Journal of International Law, the Journal of International Criminal Justice, Constellations and a founding editor of the interdisciplinary journal Humanity. He is also a series editor of the Oxford University Press (OUP) series in The History and Theory of International Law. Prior to the EUI he was on the faculty at the New School for Social Research, and at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Before entering academia, he worked with Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice. Nehal’s two most recent edited volumes are Freedom of Religion, Secularism and Human Rights (OUP) and Autonomous Weapons Systems - Law, Ethics, Policy (Cambridge University Press with Beck, Geiss, Liu and Kress). Nehal works on a wide range of doctrinal, historical and theoretical issues in international law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law and human rights law.

Dr Rebecca Mignot-Mahdavi is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Asser Institute (University of Amsterdam), a Teaching fellow at SciencesPo Paris and the Managing Editor of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law. She holds a PhD in Law from the EUI, entitled “Drone Programs: the Interaction Between Technology, War and the Law”. She currently supervises Master theses in criminal law and public international law at the University of Amsterdam. Her work reflects on how new technologies, together with the law, reshape security practices in the counterterrorism context.

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The PIL Discussion Group hosts a weekly speaker event and is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford.  Due to the current public health emergency, the PIL Discussion Group series will be held remotely for Hilary 2021. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law.  The speaker will commence at 12:45 and speak for about forty minutes, allowing about twenty-five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude before 2:00. 

The group typically meets each Thursday during Oxford terms. 

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