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

Mon, 30 October, 2017 2:30pm

The United States pursues a range of policy options in serving its national interests, from diplomacy to sanctions and other coercive measures to the use of military force. At various times, such measures have been undertaken unilaterally, or pursuant to Security Council authorization, or in accordance with obligations arising under international security agreements. 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.

This live online briefing, the eighth in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature 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 will discuss 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 US officials consider in determining whether a given exercise of armed force is legally permissible.


  • Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School, former Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice and former special counsel, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Oona Hathaway, Yale Law School, former special counsel, Office of General Counsel for National Security Law, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Laura Dickinson (moderator), The George Washington University School of Law, former senior policy adviser, U.S. Department of State

This session will be streamed live, free of charge, to policymakers, members of the press, and the public.

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