Exploring the Trump Administration and the Use of Force Under International Law

Professor Dickinson moderated an ASIL discussion about the interplay between international law, domestic legislation, and Executive Branch policies.

International law and order
November 27, 2017

Laura A. Dickinson, Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law, served as a moderator in an American Society of International Law (ASIL) discussion about the Trump administration and the use of force under International Law. Since entering office, the Trump Administration has continued military operations conducted by previous administrations against ISIS and other non-state actors, launched a unilateral missile strike against a Syrian government target in response to the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, and contemplated possible military actions in response to nuclear weapons tests in North Korea.

The online briefing, the eighth in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," featured former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for formulating policy and advising the Executive Branch on issues involving the use of force and the law of armed conflict. They discussed the international legal principles that apply to the permissible use of force by nation states and the extent to which those principles serve as an effective constraint on aggression, and will examine the interplay between international law, domestic legislation, and Executive Branch policies that U.S. officials consider in determining whether a given exercise of armed force is legally permissible.

Professor Dickinson began the conversation by focusing on the jus ad bellum, the body of law governing which states may initiate the use of force, which she says is "critically important" and relevant today. Professor Dickinson then engaged Professors Jack Goldsmith (Harvard Law School) and Oona Hathaway (Yale Law School) in a series of questions about legal issues under this body of law currently facing the Trump administration.

Watch the entire discussion