Adding Context and Commentary to Current Global Conflicts

31 January 2024

Trinity Professorial Fellow Janina Dill has been busy providing media commentary on the conflicts in Israel/Gaza and Ukraine as both conflicts continue to intensify.

Professor Dill is the Dame Louise Richardson Chair in Global Security at the Blavatnik School and serves as Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict at Oxford University. Her research on the role of law and morality in international relations, particularly armed conflict, is internationally recognised. In her opinion pieces and commentary for CNN, the New York Times, and TIME magazine (among others), she discusses the significance – both legal and ethical – of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on South Africa’s allegation that Israel is violating the genocide convention in Gaza, as well as the role and limitations of international law in war.

In TIME magazine, Professor Dill discusses the danger of devaluing international law given the way it is instrumentalised in Gaza and Ukraine. She notes: ‘These wars have caused unimaginable horrors but world leaders have co-opted the language of law to defend them. […] When legal arguments follow political rather than ethical considerations, as the Biden Administration and European allies are doing, can law still help us make sense of the world? Ukraine and Gaza have created a crisis of confidence in the project to constrain war with international law, but dismissing it outright would be a grave mistake.’

In Just Security, as well as in her commentary for CNN and the New York Times, Professor Dill considers the ICJ’s order that Israel must take provisional measures in Gaza. ‘Even though it is not a definitive verdict, it is a very significant rebuke for the armed forces of a democratic state that sometimes says it has the most moral army in the world,” She says. ‘It is also a rebuke of world leaders who preempted legal deliberations by declaring the case meritless or baseless or who argue that Israel’s compliance with international law can be assumed because it is a democracy.’

Professor Dill says: ‘When international law is prominent in policy discussions and the media it is usually because the world is in crisis and often international law does not meet all our expectations of what law should do to solve these crises. Yet, particularly in war, international law is really our best hope and getting that message out is one of my professional aims.’