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Inaugural lecture: Dr Giulia Pecorella

Event information

START DATE 14 April 2015
START TIME 05:00pm

Room C219-20 and the 2nd Floor Mezzanine, College Building, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, Hendon, London NW4 4BT.

END DATE 14 April 2015
END TIME 07:30pm

The US administration, self-defence and international law


As a result of the prohibition to resort to force established by the UN Charter, self-defence has acquired increasingly crucial importance as a legal justification for states' armed operations. However, its contours have changed over time and, in some cases, remain controversial. A state can undoubtedly invoke individual self-defence whenever it is a victim of an armed attack by another state or by a paramilitary group supported by a state. It has also largely been accepted that under international law this attack does not need to have actually occurred; it is in fact enough that it is 'imminent'. 

Since the 1980s, the US has relied upon self-defence every time it has faced a threat by terrorists actively supported by a state. Over the last decade, it has also started to invoke self-defence as a justification for its military operations on the territory of all those states that are unwilling or unable to prevent or suppress a continuing terrorist threat against the US. This has been the practice even in absence of a state of war between the states themselves. 

This lecture aims to provide an overview of the US practice and the main controversial aspects related to its compliance with international law. In this regard, the airstrikes recently conducted in Syria and Iraq and the ongoing legal debate about the use of force against IS will also be discussed.


Dr Giulia Pecorella has recently completed her PhD in international criminal law at Middlesex University. Her research focused on the definition of the crime of aggression as understood and used by the US administration. Over the last year, Giulia has worked for the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression and has also established and coordinated 'An International Law Blog', which presents short posts on international law by current and former PhD students from Middlesex University. She has also co-authored her first book chapters together with Professor William Schabas in Triffterer's forthcoming commentary on the Rome Statute.

Giulia received her BA and MA in International Relations from the University of Florence, and her LLM in Human Rights from the University of Rome 'La Sapienza'. She has worked in different European countries, including, France, Belgium, Malta, Italy and the UK, within both governmental and non-governmental organisations.

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