Janina Dill

MPhil Cantab, DPhil Oxon

John G Winant Professor in US Foreign Policy
Professorial Fellow, Nuffield College
Co-Director, Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC)
International Relations Network
Nuffield College
other links
Office address
Nuffield College, Staircase J, Room 4

Janina Dill is a Professor at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) of the University of Oxford. She is also a Fellow at Nuffield College and Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict (ELAC).

Janina Dill's research concerns the role of law and morality in international relations, specifically in war. In one strand of research, she develops legal and philosophical theories about how international law can be an instrument of morality in war, albeit an imperfect one. This work speaks to debates in just war theory and international law.

Another strand of her research seeks to explain how moral and legal norms affect the reality of war. This work contributes to debates about the capacity of international law to constrain military decision-making. She also studies how normative considerations can shape public opinion on the use of force and the attitudes of conflict-affected populations, for instance, in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Iraq.

In 2021, Janina won a Philip Leverhulme Prize for researchers "whose work has had international impact and whose future research career is exceptionally promising." She will use the prize to conduct further research on the moral psychology of decision-making in war. 

In 2022-2024, Janina Dill co-convenes (with Scott Sagan) a research project on the "Law and Ethics of Nuclear Deterrence," which is part of the Research Network on Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and hosted by the Harvard Belfer Centre. 

Starting in 2024, Janina Dill will also work on a three-year project entitled "Cumulative Civilian Harm: Addressing the Hidden Human Toll of the Law's Blind Spot", which is funded by a joint grant from the ESRC and the National Science Foundation. 

Professional Responsibilities

Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict

Previous Posts

She was previously employed as an Assistant Professor of Normative Political Theory at the Department of International Relations of the London School of Economics and Political Science.


  • International law and war, 

  • Military decision-making,

  • Attitudes toward the use of force, 

  • Just war theory, 

  • Nuclear Deterrence,

  • Theories of international law 


  • Ethics of war

  • Laws of war

  • Air warfare





Law Applicable to Armed Conflict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2020) - Ziv Bohrer, Janina Dill, Helen Dufy

Which law applies to armed conflict? This book investigates the applicability of international humanitarian law and international human rights law to armed conflict situations. The issue is examined by three scholars whose professional, theoretical, and methodological backgrounds and outlooks differ greatly. These multiple perspectives expose the political factors and intellectual styles that influence scholarly approaches and legal answers, and the unique trialogical format encourages its participants to decenter their perspectives. By focussing on the authors' divergence and disagreement, a richer understanding of the law applicable to armed conflict is achieved. The book, firstly, provides a detailed study of the law applicable to armed conflict situations. Secondly, it explores the regimes' interrelation and the legal techniques for their coordination and prevention of potential norm conflicts. Thirdly, the book moves beyond the positive analysis of the law and probes the normative principles that guide the interpretation, application and development of law.

Legitimate Targets? International Law, Social Construction and US BombingCambridge Studies in International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2015)

Based on an innovative constructivist theory of international law the book investigates the effectiveness of international humanitarian law (IHL) in regulating the conduct of hostilities. A comprehensive exegesis of the law defining a legitimate target of attack reveals an unacknowledged controversy among legal and military professionals about the logic according to which belligerents ought to balance humanitarian and military imperatives: the logics of sufficiency or efficiency. Although IHL prescribes the former, increased recourse to IL in US air warfare is constitutive of a legitimate target in accordance with the logic of efficiency. The logic of sufficiency is morally less problematic. Yet, neither logic satisfies contemporary expectations of effective IHL or legitimate warfare. Those expectations demand that hostilities follow a logic of liability, which proves impracticable. The book proposes changes to IHL, but concludes that according to widely shared normative beliefs on the 21st century battlefield there are no truly legitimate targets.

Reviews and Discussions

Peer-reviewed Papers

  • At Any Cost: How Ukrainians Think about Self-Defense Against Russia, American Journal of Political Science, 2023, accepted, with Marnie Howlett and Carl Müller-Crepon.

  • Threats to State Survival as Emergencies in International Law, International Theory, 2023, first view.

  • Public Opinion and the Nuclear Taboo Across Nations: An Exchange – The Authors Reply, Security Studies, Vol. 31 (1), pp. 195-204, with Scott D. Sagan and Benjamin A. Valentino.

  • Inconstant Care: Public Attitudes towards Force Protection and Civilian Casualties in the United States, United Kingdom and Israel, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2022, Vol. 67(4), pp. 587–616, with Scott D. Sagan and Benjamin A. Valentino.

  • Introduction to a Symposium on War by Agreement: A Contractarian Ethics of War by Yizthak Benbaji and Daniel Statman, Law and Philosophy, 2022, Vol. 41, pp. 663–669, with Cecile Fabre.

  • A Kettle of Hawks: Public Opinion on the Nuclear Taboo and Non-Combatant Immunity in the United States, United Kingdom, France and IsraelSecurity Studies, 2022, with Scott D. Sagan and Benjamin A. Valentino (open access!).

  • Attitudes toward the Use of Force: Instrumental Imperatives, Moral Principles, and International LawAmerican Journal of Political Science, 2021, Vol.63 (3), pp. 612-633, with Livia I. Schubiger (open access!). 

  • Distinction, Necessity, and Proportionality: Afghan Civilians' Attitudes Towards Wartime HarmEthics and International Affairs, 2019, Vol. 3 (3), 315-342.

  • Do Attackers have a Legal Duty of Care? Limits to the 'Individualisation of War'International Theory, 2019, Vol. 11 (1), pp. 1-25 (open access!).

  • The Rights and Obligations of Parties to International Armed Conflicts: From Bilateralism but not Towards Community Interest? in: Eyal Benvenisti and George Notle (eds.) Community Interests Across International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).  

  • Just War Theory in Times of Individual Right, in: Robyn Eckersley and Chris Brown (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

  • Abuse of Law on the 21st Century Battlefield: A Typology of Lawfare, in: Michael L. Gross and Tamar Meisels (eds.) Soft War: The Ethics of Unarmed Conflict (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

  • Forcible Alternatives to War: Legitimate Violence in 21st Century International Relations, in: Jens David Ohlin (ed.) Theoretical Boundaries of Armed Conflict and Human Rights (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

  • The 21st Century Belligerent’s Trilemma, European Journal of International Law, 2015, Vol. 26 (1), pp. 83–108. 

  • Ending Wars: The jus ad bellum Criteria Suspended, Repeated or Adjusted? introduction to edited symposium, Ethics, 2015, Vol. 125 (April), pp. 627–630.

  • The Informal Regulation of Drones and the Formal Legal Regulation of War,” contribution to the symposium on: Allen Buchanan and Robert O. Keohane, Toward a Drone Accountability Regime, Ethics and International Affairs, 2015, Vol. 29 (1), pp. 51-58.

  • The American Way of Bombing and International Law: Two Logics of Warfare in Tension, in: Matthew Evangelista and Henry Shue (eds.) Changing Ethical and Legal Norms, From Flying Fortresses to Drones (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014).

  • Interpretive Complexity and the Principle of Proportionality, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Int. Law, 2014, Vol. 108, pp. 82-105.

  • Limiting Killing in War: Military Necessity and the St Petersburg Assumption, Ethics and International Affairs, 2013, Vol. 26 (3), pp. 311-334 – with Henry Shue.

  • Should International Law Ensure the Moral Acceptability of War? Leiden Journal of International Law, 2012, Vol. 26 (2), pp. 253-270. 

  • The Definition of a Legitimate Target of Attack: Not More than a Moral Plea? Proceedings of Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law, 2009, Vol. 103, pp. 229-232.


Selected Other Papers