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Blaine Sloan Lecture on International Law

Jens David OhlinMonday, April 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm, New York Judicial Institute-Lecture Hall
Professor Jens David Ohlin, Cornell Law School
"The Assault on International Law"


Professor Ohlin specializes in international law and all aspects of criminal law, including domestic, comparative, and international criminal law. His latest book, The Assault on International Law, from Oxford University Press, challenges the prevailing American hostility towards international law, and offers a novel theory of rationality to explain why nations should comply with international law.

Ohlin’s research also focuses on the laws of war, in particular the impact of new technology on the regulation of warfare, including remotely piloted drones and the strategy of targeted killings, cyber-warfare, and the role of non-state actors in armed conflicts. His books in this area include Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World (Oxford University Press 2012, with A. Altman & C. Finkelstein); Cyber-War: Law & Ethics for Virtual Conflicts (Oxford University Press forthcoming, with C. Finkelstein & K. Govern); and Defending Humanity: When Force is Justified and Why (Oxford University Press 2008, with George Fletcher).

In the area of international criminal law, Professor Ohlin concentrates on the application of traditional criminal law theory by international tribunals, especially with regard to genocide, torture, joint criminal enterprise and co-perpetration, and more generally the philosophical foundations of collective criminal action. His work has been cited by judges and litigants at several international tribunals, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). He also is a member of an international working group, centered in The Hague, developing a codification of general rules and principles of international criminal procedure.

His scholarly work has appeared in the Cornell Law Review, Columbia Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, Harvard International Law Journal, Michigan Journal of International Law, Leiden Journal of International Law, Chicago Journal of International Law, American Journal of International Law, Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Journal of International Criminal Justice, as well as many peer-reviewed edited volumes published by university presses.

Professor Ohlin has consulted for foreign governments and law firms on a wide range of issues, including human rights, white-collar criminal defense and litigation, criminal antitrust, and appellate litigation. He blogs at Opinio Juris.

Biography taken from Debevoise website - see the full biography here:


International law presents a conceptual riddle. Why comply with it when there is no world government to enforce it? The United States has a long history of skepticism towards international law, but 9/11 ushered in a particularly virulent phase of American exceptionalism, as the US drifted away from international institutions and conventions.


The Blaine Sloan Lecture on International Law honors F. Blaine Sloan for developing the international law studies program at Pace. A member of the United Nations Legal Office for three decades and Director of the General Legal Division, Professor Sloan has contributed significantly to the development of private and public international law. He represented the Secretary General at the 1978 UN Conference on the Carriage of Goods by Sea; at the sessions from 1969–1978 of the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL); and at the 1966–1978 sessions of the Legal Sub-Committee on the Peaceful uses of Outer Space. His UN service involved him in that organization’s work on Vietnam, relief for Palestinian refugees, peacekeeping in the Middle East, the UN Commission on Korea, and as Legal Advisor to Security Council sessions in Africa and Latin America.


Professor Blaine Sloan joined the Pace Law School faculty in 1979 and taught International Law. For many years Professor Blaine Sloan was associated with the United Nations Legal Office as Director of the General Legal Division and as Deputy to the Under Secretary General. While with the United Nations he was on various peacekeeping and refugee foreign mission assignments in the Middle East and Korea. He was legal advisor to the Security Council in meetings away from headquarters and Representative of the Secretary-General at meetings of the Legal Sub-committee on Outer Space and the International Trade Law Commission. (UNCITRAL). He published many articles on international law and organization, including a widely quoted article on General Assembly resolutions. His book, General Assembly Resolutions in Our Changing World, was published in 1991. He was also a member of the Panel of Arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association.

The Blaine Sloan Lecture on International Law honors Blaine Sloan, former Professor Emeritus of International Law and Organization at Pace Law School, for developing the international law studies program at Pace. Professor Sloan passed away on April 12, 2012. You can read more about him and his legacy in this memorial lecture.



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Professor of Law, United States Military Academy, West Point
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José E. Alvarez
Hamilton Fish Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, Columbia University School of Law
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Philippe Kirsch
President, International Criminal Court (ICC); and Judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Division
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Barbara Stark
Professor of Law, Hofstra University School of Law
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Michael Greenhalgh Bridge
Professor of Commercial Law and Dean of the Faculty of Laws, University College London (UCL)
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Edward R. Utley Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health
Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
Professor of Socio-Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine
Founder and first Director, Boston University's Law, Medicine, and Ethics Program
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Harold G. Maier
David Daniels Allen Professor of Law Emeritus, Vanderbilt University Law School 
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President Emeritus, International Human Rights Law Institute; and Distinguished Research Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law
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David J. Scheffer
Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law; and Director of the Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern University
First U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues (1997–2001)
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W. Ramsey Clark
Sixty-Sixth Attorney General of the United States
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Stephen M. Schwebel
Judge, International Court of Justice (President from 1997–2000)
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Shoshana Netanyahu
Justice, Supreme Court of Israel
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W. Michael Reisman
Myres S. McDougal Professor of International Law, Yale Law School; Chairman, Hague Arbitration Tribunal, Bank for International Settlements
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Benjamin B. Ferencz
Chief Prosecutor for the United States Army, Einsatzgruppen Trial of the 'Subsequent Nuremberg Trials' at Nuremberg, Germany
Adjunct Professor of International Law (1985-1996), Pace University School of Law
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Founding President, Canadian Council on International Law
Judge, European Court of Human Rights
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Ian Brownlie, CBE, QC, FBA
Chichele Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford; and Distinguished Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
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Emeritus Professor of European Law, University of London (UCL)
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Louis Henkin
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Nash Professor Emeritus of Law, Columbia Law School;
President, International Academy of Comparative Law; President, American Foreign Law Association and of the American Branch of the International Law Association; Former president of the International Association of Legal Sciences
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Hamilton Fish Professor Emeritus of International Law and Diplomacy, Columbia Law School; Advisor, UN Commission on Transnational Corporations 
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Professor Emeritus of International Law and Organization, Pace Law School
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