Mary Ellen O'Connell
Robert & Marion Short Professor of Law
Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution
Office: 3104 Eck Hall of Law
Staff Assistant: Beth Smith
Mary Ellen O'Connell is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and is Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution—Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame.
O’Connell’s research is in the areas of international law on the use of force, weapons technology, dispute resolution, and international legal theory. She is the author or editor of numerous books and articles on these subjects, including, The Art of Law in the International Community (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming), Self-Defense against Non-State Actors (with C. Tams and D. Tladi, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) and The Power and Purpose of International Law, Insights from the Theory and Practice of Enforcement (Oxford University Press, 2008, paperback 2011).
In the Spring of 2018, O’Connell was a Fulbright Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. In April 2018, she gave the Fifth Annual Justice Stephen Breyer International Law Lecture at the Brookings Institution. During the 2014-2015 academic year, she was a Senior Law Fellow at the Center for Theological Inquiry, Princeton, in a project organized jointly with Princeton’s Program on Law and Public Affairs. O’Connell has served as a vice president of the American Society of International Law from 2010-2012 and chaired the Use of Force Committee of the International Law Association from 2005-2010. Before joining the faculty at Notre Dame, she was a faculty member at The Ohio State University, the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Bologna Center, and Indiana University. From 1995 to 1998, she was a professional military educator for the U.S. Department of Defense in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. She also practiced law with the Washington, D.C.-based international law firm, Covington & Burling.
O’Connell earned her B.A. in history at Northwestern with highest honors. She won a Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in the U.K., where she earned an M.Sc. in international relations at the LSE and an LL.B. with first class honors at Cambridge University, in international law. She holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School where she won the Berger Prize for International Law. In July 2013, O’Connell earned the Ph.D. under special regulation also from Cambridge University.
LAW70401, International Law LAW70431, International Environmental Law LAW73402, Protection of Cultural Heritage: War, Markets and Museums LAW73428, International Law and the Use of Force LAW75718, International Dispute Resolution
WHAT IS WAR? AN INVESTIGATION IN THE WAKE OF 9/11 (Martinus Nijhof/Brill, edited volume, 2012)
INTERNATIONAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION, CASES AND MATERIALS (Carolina, 2d ed. 2012)
THE POWER AND PURPOSE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, INSIGHTS FROM THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF ENFORCEMENT (Oxford University Press, paperback, 2011)(hardback published, 2008; reviewed in the AM. J. INT’L L., EUR. J. INT’L L., HUMAN RTS Q., ILSA J. and other journals and on-lines sites)
THE INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SYSTEM, CASES AND MATERIALS (with N. Roht-Ariaza and R. Scott, Foundation, fully revised and updated 6th ed. 2010)
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE USE OF FORCE, CASES AND MATERIALS (Foundation, 2d ed. 2009)
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE “GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM”, LECTURES FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF PARIS II (Assas-Pantheon) (Editions-Pedone 2007)
REDEFINING SOVEREIGNTY, THE USE OF FORCE AFTER THE COLD WAR (edited volume with M. Bothe and N. Ronzitti eds., Transnational, 2005)
INTERNATIONAL DISPUTE SETTLEMENT, LIBRARY OF ESSAYS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW (Ashgate/Dartmouth, edited volume, 2003)
PROCEEDINGS OF THE 2002 ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW (with R. Alford, ed. ASIL)
POLITICS, VALUES AND FUNCTIONS: INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE 21ST CENTURY, ESSAYS IN HONOR OF PROF. LOUIS HENKIN (with J. Charney and D. Anton, eds., Kluwer Law International 1997)
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE USE OF FORCE (with T. Ehrlich, Little, Brown & Co., 1993)
Articles and Book Chapters
Cyber Security without Cyber War, 17 J. CONFLICT & SECURITY L. 187-209 (2012).
What is Aggression?: Comparing the Jus ad Bellum and the ICC Statute (with M. Niyazmatov) 10 J. INT’L CRIM. J. 189 (2012)
Jus Cogens, International Law’s Higher Ethical Norms, in THE ROLE OF ETHICS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW (Donald Earl Childress III ed. Cambridge, 2011)(an earlier version of the article was published in JORNADAS DE DERECHO INTERNACIONAL (2010).
Seductive Drones: Learning from a Decade of Lethal Operations, J. LAW, INFO. & SCI. (special issue; DOI: 10.5778/JLIS.2011.21.Oconnell.1)
The Natural Superiority of Courts, FROM BILATERALISM TO COMMUNITY INTEREST: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF JUDGE BRUNO SIMMA (Oxford Univ. Press., 2011).
The Choice of Law Against Terrorism, 4 J. NAT’L SEC. L. & POL’Y 343 (2010).
Responsibility to Peace: A Critique of R2P, 4 J. INTERVENTION AND STATEBUILDING 39 (Mar. 2010) republished in CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT: INTERROGATING THEORY AND PRACTICE (Philip Cunliffe ed. Routledge, 2011).
NATO at Sixty: America Between Law and War, 17 Ind. J. Global L. Studies 187 (2010).
Responses to Ten Questions, 36 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 5127 (2010) (special ed., J. of the Nat'l Security Forum) (responding to ten questions posed by the editors of the special edition).
Arbitration and the Avoidance of War: The 19th Century American Vision in THE UNITED STATES AND INTERNATIONAL COURTS AND TRIBUNALS 30 (Cesare Romano ed., Cambridge, 2009)
Combatants and the Combat Zone, 43 University Of Richmond Law Review 845 (2009).
Beyond Wealth: Stories of Art, War, and Greed, 59 ALA. L. REV. 1075 (2008)
Preserving the Peace: The Continuing Ban on War Between States, 38 CAL. WESTERN L. REV. 41 (2008)
Die Forderung nach humanitären Interventionen – eine kritische Betrachtung, im DAS RECHT UND DIE MACHT. BEITRÄGE ZUM VÖLKERRECHT UND VÖLKERSTRAFRECHT AM BEGINN DES 21. JAHRHUNDERTS (Gerd Hankel ed., 2008) (The Claims for Humanitarian Intervention, A Critical Observation in Law and Power, in CONTRIBUTIONS TO INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY)
Rethinking the Remedy of Return in International Art Law (with M. Alevras-Chen), in THE ACQUISITION AND EXHIBITION OF CLASSICAL ANTIQUITIES, PROFESSIONAL, LEGAL AND ETHICAL PERSPECTIVES 114 (Robin F. Rodes ed. 2008)
The Nicaragua Case: Preserving World Peace and the World Court, in International Law Stories 339-70 (John E. Noyes et al. eds., 2007).
The Ban on the Bomb - and Bombing: Iran, the U.S., and the International Law of Self-Defense, 57 Syracuse L. Rev. 497 (2007) (with Maria Alveras-Chen).
The Counter-Reformation of the Security Council, 2 J. INT’L L. & RELATIONS 107 (2005).
Crying War, in INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: BRIDGING THEORY AND PRACTICE (Tom Biersteker et al, eds. Routledge 2007).
The United Nations Security Council and the Authorization of Force: Renewing the Council Through Law Reform, in THE SECURITY COUNCIL AND THE USE OF FORCE, THEORY AND REALITY--A NEED FOR CHANGE? 47 (Niels Blokker & Nico Schrijver eds., Martinus Nijhof, 2005).
Affirming the Ban on Coercive Interrogation, 66 OHIO STATE L. J. (2005).
Taking Opinio Juris Seriously, A Classical Approach to International Law on the Use of Force, in INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMARY LAW ON THE USE OF FORCE: A METHODOLOGICAL APPROACH 9 (E. Cannizzaro and P. Palchetti eds. 2005).
Enhancing the Status of Non-State Actors Through a Global War on Terror, 43 COL. J. TRANS. LAW 435 (2005)
Who Helps the Hegemon? 8 AUSTRIAN REV. INT’L & EUR. L. 91 (2003)
Controlling Countermeasures, in INTERNATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY TODAY: ESSAYS IN MEMORY OF OSCAR SCHACHTER 49 (M. Ragazzi ed., 2005)
Occupation Failures and the Legality of Armed Conflict: The Case of Iraqi Cultural Property, 9 J. ART & ANTIQUITY LAW 323 (2004)
La Doctrine Américaine et L’intervention en Iraq (The Iraq War in American Legal Scholarship) 2003 ANNUAIRE FRANÇAISE 3
The Legal Case Against the Global War on Terrorism, 36 CASE W. RES. J. INT’L L. 349 (2004)
Lawful and Unlawful Wars Against Terrorism in THE WAR ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM 79 (Ved Nanda ed., Transnational, 2005)
Ad Hoc War, in KRISENSICHERUNG UND HUMANITÄRER SCHUTZ—CRISIS MANAGEMENT AND HUMANITARIAN PROTECTION 399 (Horst Fischer et al, eds., 2004)
Re-Leashing the Dogs of War, Review Essay of Christine Gray, International Law and the Use of Force (2000) 97 AM. J. INT’L L 446 (2003)
To Kill or Capture Suspects in the Global War on Terror, 35 CASE W. RES. J. INT’L L. 325 (2003)
Enforcing International Law in National Courts: The German and American Experiences Compared in KONFLIKT DER RECHTSKULTUREN? DIE USA UND DEUTSCHLAND IM VERGLEICH/AMERICAN AND GERMAN LEGAL CULTURES, CONTRAST, CONFLICT, CONVERGENCE? (2003)
Lawful Self-Defense to Terrorism, 63 U. OF PITTSBURGH L.R. 889 (2002)(excerpted in MARK JANIS & JOHN NOYES, INTERNATIONAL LAW (3d ed. 2006) and HAROLD BRUFF & PETER SHANE, SEPARATION OF POWERS LAW (2d ed. 2005))
American Exceptionalism and the International Law of Self-Defense, 31 DENVER J. INT’L L. & POL’Y 43 (2002)
Pre-emption and Exception, The US Moves Beyond Unilateralism, 20 SICHERHEIT & FRIEDEN 136 (2002)(reprinted in DIE STÄRKE DES RECHTS GEGEN DAS RECHT DES STÄRKEREN (THE MIGHT OF LAW VERSUS THE LAW OF THE MIGHTY)(2003))
The Myth of Preemptive Self-Defense, Aug. 6, 2002, available at http://www.asil.org/taskforce/oconnell.pdf (excerpted in JENNIFER ABASSI AND ANTHONY D’AMATO, INTERNATIONAL LAW TODAY, West 2006)
Evidence of Terror, 7 J. OF CONFLICT AND SECURITY LAW 19 (2002)
Debating the Law of Sanctions, 13 EUR. J. INT’L L. 63 (2002)
Humanitarian Assistance in Non-International Armed Conflict, The Fourth Wave of Rights, Duties and Remedies, 31 ISRAEL YBK. ON HUMAN RIGHTS 183 (2001)
The UN, NATO and International Law After Kosovo, 22 HUM. RTS. Q. (February 2000) (excerpted in INTERNATIONAL LAW (B. Carter et al., eds. 2003))
The Role of Soft Law in a Global Order in Commitment and Compliance, in THE ROLE OF NON-BINDING NORMS IN THE INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SYSTEM (Dinah Shelton ed., 2000)
New International Legal Process, 93 AM. J. INT’L L. 334 (1999) (reprinted in THE METHODS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW (S. Ratner & A-M Slaughter eds., 2004); excerpted in OONAH K. HATHAWAY AND HAROLD HONGJU KOH, THE FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND POLITICS (2004))
The Application of International Law to the New Security Agenda, The Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center, Occasional Paper No. 2 (October 1997)
Regulating the Use of Force in the 21st Century: The Continuing Importance of State Autonomy, 36 COL. J. TRANS. L. 473 (1997)
Why Do States Take on International Environmental Law Obligations?: A Comparison of the United States and The Netherlands inENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE EUROPEAN UNION (Randall Baker, ed. 1997)
Environment and Security Concerns for Europe, Europa Institut, No. 352, University of Saarland (1996)
International Legal Issues of the Dayton Accords: Arresting the Indicted and Preventing Partition, in A CLOSE-UP VIEW OF EUROPEAN SECURITY, Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies, Budapest (1996)
Enforcement and the Success of International Environmental Law, 3 IND. J. GLOBAL L. Stud. 47(1995)(excerpted in INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY (D. Hunter et al., eds. 2002, 1998)
The Failure to Observe Provisional Measures of Protection in the Case of Bosnia v. Yugoslavia, Walther-Schücking-Kolleg, No. 15, Institut für Internationales Recht an der Universität Kiel (1994)
Using Trade to Enforce International Environmental Law, 1 IND. J. GLOBAL L. STUD. 273 (1994)
Enforcing the New International Law of the Environment, 35 GERMAN YEARBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 293 (1992)
International Legal Aid: The Secretary General's Trust Fund to Assist States in the Settlement of Disputes Through the International Court of Justice, in INTERNATIONAL COURTS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (Mark Janis ed., 1992)
Continuing Limits on UN Intervention in Civil War, 67 IND. L. J. 903 (1992)
Enforcing the Prohibition on the Use of Force: The U.N.'s Response to Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait, 5 SO. ILL. L.R. 453 (1991)
The Prospects for Enforcing Monetary Judgments of the International Court of Justice: A Study of Nicaragua's Judgment Against the United States, 30 VA. J. INT'L L. 891 (1990)
The United States Experience at the International Court of Justice (with D'Amato) in THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE AT A CROSSROADS (L.F. Damrosch ed., 1987)
Soviet Prisoners in the Afghan Conflict, 23 COL. J. TRANS. L. 483 (1985)
Selected Shorter Publications, Online Publications and Conference Proceedings since 2007:
When are Drone Killings Illegal? Aug. 16, 2012, CNN OPINION.
Affirming the Ban on Bombing Iran, March 2012, Syracuse University College of Law,
The Right of Self-Defense, Oxford Bibliographies Online, March 2012
The Principle of Necessity and the Libya Intervention, Panel: Revolution & Intervention in the Middle East, PROC. 105TH AM. SOC. INT’L L. (2012)
The International Law of Drones, ASIL INSIGHTS, Nov. 12, 2010.
Ten Questions, 5 J. NAT’L SEC. FORUM 5113 (2010)
Toward a New Paradigm: Notre Dame’s Institute of Advanced Studies, in The Idea of a Catholic Institute for Advanced Study (Vittorio Hösle and Donald L. Stelluto, eds., 2010)
FLYING BLIND, 202 America (March 15, 2010)
NATO AT SIXTY, AMERICA BETWEEN LAW AND WAr, 17 IN. J. GLOB. LEGAL STUD. 187 (2010)
Saving Lives Through a Definition of International Armed Conflict, Panel: Categories of Armed Conflicts: Notions and Interpretations, Armed Conflicts and Parties to Armed Conflicts under IHL: Confronting Legal Categories to Contemporary Realities, 10th Bruges Colloquium 19, 22-23 October 2009
No Excuses, Our Obligation to Prosecute Human Rights Violations, 201 AMERICA 11 (August 3-10, 2009)
International Law’s Natural Normativity, Panel: Visions of International Law: Insights from Normative Theory, 103 PROC. AM. SOC. INT’L L. 385 (Mar. 25-28, 2009)
Review of Thomas Weiss, Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas in Action (2007) 7 PERSPECTIVES ON POLITICS 712 (No. 3 2009)
President Obama: New Hope for International Law? JURIST, Jan. 26, 2009
Defining Armed Conflict, 13 J. CONFLICT & SECURITY L. 393 (Winter 2008).
Old Hawks Wrong for Foreign Policy, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Dec. 2, 2008,
The Way Forward: Post 9/11 Principles, JURIST, Nov. 25 2008,
International Legal Process, MAX PLANCK ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW (R. Wolfrum et al. eds., 2008)
Learning from the Iraq War: The Wisdom of International Law, JURIST, March 19, 2008
Areas of Expertise
- Armed Conflict
- Art Law
- International Courts
- International Dispute Resolution
- International Law
In the News
Why Obama, when moving to punish Syria, is unlikely to go it alone (+video) - Christian Science Monitor (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), August 26, 2013
Why the US won't declare war on Syria - Miami Herald (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), August 26, 2013
Attack Needs U.N. Approval to Be Legal (Opinion by Mary Ellen O’Connell) New York Times - August 26, 2013
Drones, Guantanamo part of broad Obama counterterrorism speech - CBS News (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), May 23, 2013
Law School’s O’Connell to testify before Congress on citizens’ rights during 'War on Terror' ND News, May 22, 2013
CIA Terror War Torture And Rendition Program: An Italian Spy Is Sentenced To Jail - Can Tenet, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Ashcroft Be Next? - International Business Times (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), February 22, 2013
Mary Ellen O'Connell was quoted by several news media sources on using drones - February 7, 2013
How Obama Transformed an Old Military Concept So He Can Drone Americans - Wired (Quotes: Mary Ellen O'Connell), February 5, 2013
'Judge, jury and executioner': Legal experts fear implications of White House drone memo - NBCNews.com (Quotes: Mary Ellen O'Connell)
A Contradiction in Terms - New York Times (Opinion by Mary Ellen O'Connell), August 26, 2013
4 key questions about controversial Justice Department drone memo - NBC (Quotes: Mary Ellen O'Connell), February 6, 2013
Using Drones to Target Americans - KQED Radio (Guest: Mary Ellen O'Connell), February 6, 2013
The Questions Brennan Can't Dodge - New York Times (Opinion by Mary Ellen O'Connell)
How Obama Transformed an Old Military Concept So He Can Drone Americans - Wired - (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), February 5, 2013
Brennan must answer for drones, torture (Opinion by Mary Ellen O’Connell) CNN.com – January 14, 2013
Palestinian 'state' vote a crisis moment - Asian Times (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), November 29, 2012
Drone technology raises questions on evolving nature of war and its conduct - National Catholic Reporter (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), November 5, 2012
US faces more activism against America's drone policy in Pakistan - The Voice of Russia (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), October 22, 2012
In legal battle against drone strikes, she's on the front lines – LA Times – (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), October 9, 2012
The Democrats and the Liberal Catholic Voter - NYTimes.com New York Times - (By: Mary Ellen O’Connell), September 19, 2012
Does Libya intervention violate War Powers Resolution? – St. Petersburg Times – (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), June 24, 2011
Debate: Did Obama Overstep His Authority In Libya? – NPR (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), June 23, 2011
U.S. strains credibility on its Libya role (Opinion by Mary Ellen O’Connell) CNN.com – June 21, 2011
Drone warfare won’t win in Libya (Opinion by Mary Ellen O’Connell) CNN.com – April 25, 2011
US Works With Sudan on Gitmo – Wall Street Journal (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), August 12, 2010
Hentoff: Is Obama ‘in Love With Drones’? – (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), July 31, 2010
Few batting eyes at Obama’s deadly drone policy – The Trentonian (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), July 28, 2010
Obama’s in love with drones – WorldNetDaily (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), July 27, 2010
Do drone attacks comply with international law? – PolitiFact (Quotes: Mary Ellen O’Connell), July 1st, 2010
Legal questions raised over CIA drone strikes – Associated Press, April 29, 2010 (Quoting Mary Ellen O’Connell)
House subcommittee hearing questions legality of drone attacks – CNN.com, April 28, 2010 (Quoting Mary Ellen O’Connell)
Respect the Battlefield – The U.S. Has No More Legal Authority Today to Kill Persons in Yemen than it Had in 2002 (by: Mary Ellen O’Connell) – CBS News Opinion, April 9, 2010
International legal experts question legality of US drone strikes – Malaysia Sun, April 7, 2010 (Quoting Mary Ellen O’Connell)
U.S. Defends Legality of Killing With Drones – The Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2010 (Quoting Mary Ellen O’Connell)
NPR interviews Prof. O’Connell on drone strikes – National Public Radio, March 26, 2010