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How international law encourages war

The ban on war in the UN Charter is often celebrated for restricting the reasons that governments can go to war. But those limits are also empowering for governments: the Charter authorizes governments to use force in self-defense, and they have shown themselves eager to make use of that authority. This facilitates the use of force by states rather than limiting it. 

By creating the legal category of 'self-defense,' international law gives to states an iron-clad legal rationale to legitimate their wars. And over time, the category has expanded as powerful states have used it to justify ever broader military interventions in the world. My new article shows the permissive power of international law on war and suggests that the ban on war may make it easier, not harder, for governments to go to war.

Ian Hurd, "The Permissive Power of the Ban on War," European Journal of International Security, August 2016, pp.1-18. pdf here and website


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Letter to Ashton Carter re. Mohamedou Ould Slahi

An open letter to the US Secretary of Defense in support of releasing Mohamedou Ould Slahi from Guantanamo military base.

May 18, 2016

Ashton B. Carter Secretary of Defense Department of Defense 1000 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC

Dear Secretary Carter,

We are professors and teachers from a variety of disciplines. We are writing to convey our interest in the forthcoming Periodic Review Board hearing of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the author of Guantánamo Diary, and our hope that those proceedings will bring an end to Mr. Slahi’s ordeal in United States custody.

Many of us have assigned Guantánamo Diary to our students and discussed it in our classrooms. We have done so because, as a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged shortly after Guantánamo Diary was published, “it’s part of our country’s history.” We have also done so because it is an important and often surprising work of literatureone that, like other notable works of prison literature, draws a complex portrait of life in captivity and testifies to the resilience of dignity and the human spirit.

When students read Guantánamo Diary, they are troubled by the ordeal Mr. Slahi recounts, and they are moved by his candor, wit, and willingness to recognize the humanity of his guards and interrogators. They are also full of questions, as we are, about why Mr. Slahi is in United States custody at all, and how the treatment he recounts accords with our most basic notions of fairness, due process, and justice.

Because it takes readers deep into some of the most wrenching experiences of our post-9/11 history, Mr. Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary will almost certainly be read for generations. But how it is read in the future will depend in large part on how and when Mr. Slahi’s time in United States custody ends.

We hope the Periodic Review Board will resolve Mr. Slahi’s profoundly troubling story. Guantánamo Diary reminds us vividly that justice is both a universal concept and an individual matter. As educators and as readers, we sincerely hope that Mr. Slahi’s faith in the United States’ fair administration of justice will at last be repaid.


Rebecca A. Adelman

Ruth Blakeley

Head of School, Professor of International Relations
University of Kent

Joseph A. Buttigieg

William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English University of Notre Dame

Joan C. Callahan

Professor Emerita of Philosophy University of Kentucky

Christine Cervenak

Associate Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights and Concurrent Assistant Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

Associate Professor of Media & Communication Studies University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Amna Akbar

Assistant Professor of Law The Ohio State University

Meena Alexander

Distinguished Professor of English Hunter College/Graduate Center CUNY

Robert Archambeau

Professor of English Lake Forest College

Shohini Chaudhuri

Senior Lecturer, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies University of Essex

Erwin Chemerinsky

Dean of the School of Law; Distinguished Professor of Law; Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law University of California, Irvine School of Law

Michelle Chihara

Assistant Professor; Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Whittier College

Eleni Coundouriotis

Professor of English University of Connecticut

Jean-Philippe Dedieu

CIRHUS Research Fellow New York University

Lara Deeb

Chair, Department of Anthropology Professor of Anthropology
Scripps College

David Donahue

Affiliated Professor of Education; Director of Leo T. McCarthy Center University of San Francisco

Joshua Dubler

Assistant Professor of Religion University of Rochester

Marisa Egerstrom

Ph.D. Candidate Harvard University

Irene Williams

Professor of English University of San Diego

Lisa M. Feldstein

Instructor University of San Francisco

Professor William Felice

Professor of Political Science Eckerd College

Frank Foley

Lecturer, Department of War Studies King's College London

Amber Ginsburg

Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts University of Chicago

Tom Ginsburg

Deputy Dean, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar, and Professor of Political Science
University of Chicago Law School

Rebecca Gordon

Lecturer, Department of Philosophy University of San Francisco

Yogita Goyal

Associate Professor of Humanities University of California, Los Angeles

Lisa Hajjar

Professor of Sociology University of California, Santa Barbara

Sidra Hamidi

Ph.D. Candidate Northwestern University

Barbara Harlow

Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor of English Literatures University of Texas

Summer Harrison

Assistant Professor of English/Environmental Studies
Drew University

Rebecca Hazelton

Assistant Professor of English North Central College

Maha Hilal

Adjunct Professor George Mason University

Tobias Hoffman

Associate Professor of Philosophy The Catholic University of America

Aaron J Hughes

Artist, teacher, organizer, and Iraq War veteran

Paul Hunt

Professor, School of Law University of Essex

Aziz Huq

Professor of Law University of Chicago

Ian Hurd

Associate Professor and Director, International Studies Program
Northwestern University

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

Associate Professor, Political Science and Religious Studies Northwestern University

David B. Ingram

Professor of Philosophy Loyola University Chicago

Sherri Irvin

Presidential Research Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies; Co- Director of the Center for Social Justice University of Oklahoma

Shakti Jaising

Assistant Professor of English Drew University

Scott Korb

New York University

Wendy Kozol

Professor/Chair of Comparative American Studies
Oberlin College

Peter Kuznick

Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute American University

Les Levidow

Senior Research Fellow Open University, UK

Jinee Lokaneeta

Associate Professor Drew University

Laura Lomas

Associate Professor of English Rutgers University

Patrisia Macias-Rojas

Assistant Professor University of Illinois, Chicago

Nathaniel Mathews

Ph.D. Candidate Northwestern University

John Matthias

Professor Emeritus of English University of Notre Dame

Jamie Mayerfeld

Professor of Political Science and Adjunct Professor of Law, Societies and Justice University of Washington

Krystyna Mazur

Assistant Professor at American Studies Center
University of Warsaw, Poland

Bernadine Mellis

Five College Lecturer in Video Production Mount Holyoke College

Philip Metres

Professor, Department of English John Carroll University

Diane Tietjens Meyers

Professor Emerita of Philosophy University of Connecticut

Alexandra Moore

Associate Professor of English UNC Greensboro

Alberto Mora

Senior Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Hanna Musiol

Associate Professor, Institutt for språk og litteratur Det humanistiske fakultet Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Angela Naimou

Assistant Professor - U.S. American Literature, Cultural Studies
Clemson University

Lutz Oette

Lecturer in Law SOAS

Crystal Parikh

Associate Professor of English, Social and Cultural Analysis
New York University

Wendy Pearlman

Associate Professor of Political Science Northwestern University

John Peck

Philemon Foundation

Norma J. Hervey

Professor of Social Sciences Charles University, Prague

Deborah Alejandra Popowski

Lecturer on Law Harvard Law School

David L. Richards

Associate Professor of Political Science and Human Rights
University of Connecticut

Gabor Rona

Visiting Professor of Law Cardozo Law School

Noah Salomon

Assistant Professor of Religion Carleton College

Victoria Sanford

Professor of Anthropology, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies Lehman College City University of New York

Valerie Sayers

Professor of English University of Notre Dame

Kenneth Schlesinger

Professor and Chief Librarian Lehman College/CUNY

Rachel Seoighe

Associate Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology
Middlesex University

Henry Shue

Professor Emeritus of Politics and International Relations; Senior Research Fellow Emeritus at Merton College University of Oxford

Dawinder "Dave" S. Sidhu

Associate Professor of Law University of New Mexico School of Law

Shayna Silverstein

Assistant Professor Northwestern University

Karen-Margrethe Simonsen

Associate Professor; Director of the Ph.D. Programme
Aarhus University, Denmark

Eric Singer

Untold History Education Project

Joseph Slaughter

Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature Columbia University

William Slaughter

Professor Emeritus of English University of North Florida

Domna Stanton

Distinguished Professor of French Graduate Center, CUNY

Shari Stone-Mediatore

Professor of Philosophy Ohio Wesleyan University

Mark Storey

Assistant Professor of American Literature University of Warwick

Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg

Professor of English; Chair of Arts and Humanities Division
Babson College

Rory Sykes

Ph.D. Candidate Northwestern University

Terri Tomsky

Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies University of Alberta, Canada

Brenda Vellino

Associate Professor of English and Literature Carleton University

Belinda Walzer

Lecturer in English; Director, Writing Center Northeastern University

Julia Watson

Professor Emerita of Comparative Studies Ohio State University

Jessica Winegar

Associate Professor Northwestern University

Seval Yildirim

Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Professor of Law
Whittier Law School

Danielle Zach

Acting Director of Human Rights Studies City University of New York



Srivastava Mellon Fellow

Congratulations to Swati Srivastava (NU Poli.Sci. Phd candidate) on winning a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion fellowship. 


Swati Srivastava

Configurations of Sovereignty: Public and Private Authority Negotiations in World Politics

How is sovereignty negotiated between public and private authorities in international politics? How do these power dynamics change over time? This project uses archival data, comparative historical methods, and an interpretive methodology to investigate private actors who deploy international violence, rules, and ideology. It leverages an understanding of public-private sovereign negotiations in the English East India Company from 1650 to 1789 to better situate the contemporary sovereignty challengers of Blackwater, the International Chamber of Commerce, and Amnesty International. The project shows that rather than representing a threat to state sovereignty, private actors create various configurations of sovereignty together with the state, obscuring who counts as public and private in the first place. Such reorientation maps the multi-sited networks of global power and foregrounds privatized action within a broader history of sovereign governance





A Workshop on History and Politics of International Law

Friday, June 3, 2016
Ripton Room, Scott Hall, Evanston Campus


Liliana Obregón

Universidad de los Andes

Christopher Tenove

University of Toronto

Timothy Schroer

University of West Georgia

Scott Veitch

University of Hong Kong-Law

Giovanni Mantilla


Arnulf Becker Lorca

Brown University

Janne Nijman

University of Amsterdam

Jennifer Pitts

University of Chicago

Helen Kinsella

Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Ian Hurd

Northwestern University


Sponsored by Equality, Development and Globalization Studies, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the International Law/International Organization Working Group all at Northwestern University. 



How to get away with cholera: the UN in Haiti

"The UN-cholera epidemic in Haiti exposes aspects of the political power of international law that are routinely overlooked by liberal internationalists and others who see international legalizationthe fitting of political disputes into a legal frameas a solution to political problems."

Article here.

Mara Pillinger, Ian Hurd, and Michael N. Barnett, "How to Get Away with Cholera: The UN, Haiti, and International Law," in Perspectives on Politics March 2016, 14(1).



Bernie Sanders: The Foreign Policy President

Senator Sanders is the smart choice on US foreign policy.

What is Sen. Bernie Sanders' approach to foreign policy? As a political scientist, I have watched the presidential season with an eye on candidates' foreign policy, and I see an increasingly sharp gap between Sanders' approach and that of all other candidates in either party.

Long before he ran for president, Sanders said he sees "no magic line separating local, state, national and international issues." This intuition sits at the heart of what might be called the Bernie doctrine on foreign policy. It illuminates how a Sanders presidency would approach the key global challenges for the U.S. in the coming years. The Bernie doctrine focuses on two central connections: between the local and the global and between politics and economics. The pernicious effects of inequality link these together. 

Full essay in US News and World Report Feburary 29 2016




Elections for ISA section on International Organizations

The International Organization section of ISA is selecting a new section head and three new members for the executive committee. Voting is now open and will close on February 26th at noon ET. All IO section members are eligible to vote. All terms are for two years.  

The ballot is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZQMRWY3. There is one candidate for section head and 11 candidates for the three open positions on the executive committee.

We look forward to welcoming the new leadership at the IO business meeting in Atlanta on Friday March 18th at 12:30.

Please contact Ian Hurd, IO section chair, with any questions or comments at ianhurd@northwestern.edu



Permissive international law

"The UN Charter is as much about endorsing international war as it is about restraining it."

Ian Hurd, "Permissive Law on the International Use of Force," Proceedings of the American Society of International Law, 2016. ssrn



ISA-IO section is seeking new chair and new board members

The International Organization section of ISA is searching for several new members for its executive committee and for a new section head. Elections will be held prior to ISA 2016 in Atlanta. To be considered, please send a note indicating your interest along with a short bio to Alynna Lyon (alynna.Lyon@unh.edu), the IO section secretary. All positions are for two years. Candidates should be IO section members by the time they take office. Self-nominations are welcome; if you wish to nominate someone other than yourself, please indicate to us that you have their permission. The deadline for nominations is February 5, 2016.

The section head manages the interests of the section in relation to ISA headquarters as well as organizing the section’s contributions to each annual meeting. This includes choosing a program chair who selects papers and panels, setting up thecommittees that decide on section prizes, and leading new programming initiatives. Executive committee members assist the section chair in these activities.

The IO section is among the largest groups in ISA, with almost 700 members. It is growing strongly and is in a strong financial position. 

For queries, contact Ian Hurd (ianhurd@northwestern.edu) or Alynna Lyon (alynna.Lyon@unh.edu).



'Enchanted vs. Disenchanted' International Law

International law is often assumed to produce policy choices that are better than choices made without the help of international law - more just, more fair, more sustainable, or more progressive. This assumption leads to an 'enchanted' view of international law, which sees international law as a natural and a-political solution to political problems. In this new essay I explore this enchanted attitude alongside a 'disenchanted' alternative that is more attentive to the power and politics of international legalization.

Ian Hurd, "Enchanted and Disenchanted International Law," Global Policy, December 2015.



Nominations are open for 2015 Finkelstein Prize

The International Organization section of the International Studies Association will be accepting nominations for the 2015 Finkelstein Prize, for the best graduate student paper on international organization, broadly understood, until December 31st 2015. Papers must have been presented at the ISA annual meetings in New Orleans in 2015. Self-nominations are accepted. To be considered for the prize, please send the paper to the Finkelstein Committee, comprised of John Karlsrud and Alexandru Grigorsescu, at:

John Karlsrud, Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, jka@nupi.no


Alexandru Grigorescu, Department of Political Science, Loyola University Chicago, agrigor@luc.edu





Workshop on Intl Law & Intl Orgs: March 4 2016

The University of Notre Dame is hosting a workshop on international law and international organizations on Friday March 4th, 2016. Proposals are being accepted now - details below. The workshop is an interdisciplinary project sponsored by the University of Notre Dame, the IO/IL Working Group at the Buffett Institute at Northwestern University, and the Center on Law and Globalization at the American Bar Foundation and the Illinois College of Law.

This is the sixth annual Midwest Regional Colloquium on International Law and International Organization.

Send proposals and queries to:
Emilia Justyna, Notre Dame University epowell4@nd.edu
Ian Hurd, Northwestern University ianhurd@northwestern.edu
Andrew Day, IO/IL Working Group Northwestern University AndrewDay2019@u.northwestern.edu
Steven McDowell, Ph. D. Student Notre Dame smcdowe2@nd.edu

Conference details are here.



Why the 'International Rule of Law' isn't like the domestic rule of law

My article on the politics of the international rule of law, and the ways it contradicts domestic models of the rule of law, is now available in Global Constitutionalism, 4(3), 2015: 365-395. Available here. Thanks to Tony Lang, Jutta Brunnée and the Global Constitutionalism team for help with it.

Ian Hurd "The International Rule of Law and the Domestic Analogy," Global Constitutionalism 4(3), 2015.



On the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations

An hour-long panel on the UN at 70 with me, Susan Pedersen, Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press), Heidi Tworek, William Cohen, John Negroponte, and Nina Krushcheva. http://huff.lv/QYPOba

Lee covers the lack of UN accountability to the people it serves, while Tworek, Pedersen, and Krushcheva talk about the mid-20th century. Cohen and Negroponte talk about US foreign policy.



New, on domestic vs. international rule of law

The International Rule of Law and the Domestic Analogy

Coming this fall in Global Constitutionalism (Nov. 2015):

"A surge in academic interest in the interaction of international law with international politics has recently raised the profile of the rule of law in global politics. The idea of an ‘international rule of law’ is central to many accounts of international order, and to both political science and legal scholarship. Despite its popularity, the concept is rarely defined or examined. This article considers the theory and practice of the international rule of law..."



Forthcoming: Enchanted and Disenchanted International Law

Enchanted and Disenchanted International Law - coming soon in Global Policy

"In international law, the ‘enchanted’ view begins from the premise that international law represents an improvement over the political or legal relations that it replaces. It distinguishes law from politics by presuming that the turn to law adds rationality, procedure, fairness, or accountability to a pre-legal antecedent condition..."