Prof. O’Connell in Belgium for armed conflict conference

Author: Susan Good

Mary Ellen Oconnell

Mary Ellen O’Connell, the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution—Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame, will speak at the 10th annual Bruges Colloquium in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, Oct. 22. The Bruges Colloquium brings together academics, practitioners and experts to discuss current developments in International Humanitarian Law.

O’Connell, who also chairs the Committee on the Use of Force of the International Law Association, will deliver a presentation on international armed conflict, titled, “Saving Lives Through a Definition of International Armed Conflict.” For O’Connell defining international armed conflict requires discussing the term’s two components: “international” and “armed conflict”. Of these two, she finds the “armed conflict” component the more important because of the combatant’s privilege to kill without warning which applies in both international or non-international armed conflict but not outside of armed conflict. Outside of armed conflict, the use of lethal force by police or other authorities is only permitted in situations of necessity. She concludes: “When humanity reaches the point where all force is governed by necessity, we will not need a definition of armed conflict. But we are not there yet. There is still a need, if a diminishing one, to be able to distinguish armed conflict situations from peacetime ones.”

O’Connell is an expert on the international law governing the use of force. She is the author of the leading American law school casebook on the subject: International Law and the Use of Force, Cases and Materials (Foundation 2d ed. 2009). She is the lead author of the next edition of The International Legal System (Foundation 6th ed. 2010) as well as the author of The Power and Purpose of International Law (OUP 2008) and International Law and the “Global War on Terrorism” (Editions-Pedone 2007) among many other books and articles.

O’Connell teaches a number of courses in the international law area including international law, international law and the use of force, international art law, international dispute resolution, and international environmental law, as well as the law of contracts.

She is a member of the American Society of International Law, the International Law Association, the Germany Society of International Law, and the International Institute for Humanitarian Law.

For more on Professor O’Connell, visit her faculty profile web page.