Academic Profile

People Feature

Janina Dill

Professorial Fellow
John G. Winant Associate Professor of U.S. Foreign Policy

Research Interests: International law on the use of force, Just war theory, Theories of international law, U.S. military practices, Attitudes towards the use of force, Moral psychology 

My research concerns the role of law and morality in international relations, specifically in war. In one strand of research, I develop 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. The second strand of my research seeks to explain how moral and legal norms affect the reality of war. I use both qualitative and experimental research to contribute to debates about the capacity of international law to constrain military decision-making. I also study how normative considerations can shape mass attitudes towards the use of force and the attitudes of conflict-affected populations. Several of my ongoing research projects concern the moral psychology of decision-making in war. 

My first book, entitled Legitimate Targets? International Law, Social Construction and US Bombing, proposes a constructivist theory of how international law influences the choice of targets of attack in U.S. air warfare. I test the theory with three case studies of U.S. air warfare. I further uncover tensions between a legal and a moral definition of a legitimate target of attack and one guided by strategic considerations alone. The book appeared with Cambridge University Press as part of the series Cambridge Studies in International Relations in 2015. The book is based on my doctoral dissertation, which won the Dasturazada Dr. Jal Pavry Thesis Prize (Oxford, DPIR) and the Lord Bryce Prize (Political Studies Association). The book was joint runner-up for the Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship (Society of Legal Scholars) and received an Honourable Mention (Theory Section of the International Studies Association). 

In my second book, entitled Law Applicable to Armed Conflict (co-authored with Ziv Bohrer and Helen Duffy), I propose a moral division of labour between human rights and humanitarian law. I examine under what circumstances each body of law better fulfils what I argue are the moral tasks of law. My contribution to the book provides a moral justification for the so-called displacement view, i.e. the position that humanitarian law should displace human rights law in certain types of armed conflict. The book appeared in January 2020 with Cambridge University Press.

Before joining Nuffield, I was an Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Alongside my current appointments, I am co-director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) and a Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute. 

Janina Dill


Law Applicable to Armed Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2020) - Ziv Bohrer, Janina Dill, Helen Dufy (my contribution is avaiable on ssrn)

Legitimate Targets? Social Construction, International Law and U.S. Bombing (Cambridge University Press, 2015)


Inconstant Care: Public Attitudes towards Force Protection and Civilian Casualties in the United States, United Kingdom and Israel, Journal of Conflict Resolution, accepted, with Scott D. Sagan, 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, forthcoming, with Cecile Fabre 

"A Kettle of Hawks: Public Opinion on the Nuclear Taboo and Non-Combattant Immunity in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Israel," Security Studies, Vol.31 (1), 2022, pp. 1-31, with Scott D. Sagan and Benjamin A. Valentino (open access!)

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

"Distinction, Necessity, and Proportionality: Afghan Civilians' Attitudes Towards Wartime Harm," Ethics and International Affairs Vol. 3 (3), 2019, pp. 315-342

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

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

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

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

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