Hinckley Institute

02.05.24 Self-Defense in International Relations and Law

February 5, 2024

12- 1 PM

Hinckley Institute of Politics,
260 South Central Campus Drive,
Room 2018,
Salt Lake City, UT, 84112
United States


Presented as part of the Francis Wormuth Lecture Series

Forum offered online and in the Hinckley Institute caucus room - Room 2018, Gardner Commons.


Self-Defense in International Relations and Law: The Problem of Non-State Actors

Non-state actors are not an especially novel challenge in international relations and international law, yet there remains significant controversy on what states may lawfully do in response to attacks and threats from non-state armed groups. Specifically, the rules of international law relevant to self-defense, which are derived from the United Nations Charter, have been predominantly interpreted and understood to only apply to attacks by other state actors. In this lecture, I propose that this interpretation of the right to self-defense has effectively changed as a result of state practice in the 21st Century. The lecture will outline the evolution of the right to self-defense in international law, describe how state practice has supposedly changed this rule, and suggest how such an altered rule might apply to some recent and current examples of conflicts between states and non-state actors.

Presenter Info:

Eric A. Heinze is a Professor at the David L. Boren College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is currently the holder of the Max & Heidi Berry Chair of International Studies and serves as Interim Associate Dean. Trained as a political scientist, Dr. Heinze teaches courses in the field of International Relations (IR), including classes on international law and institutions, international human rights, ethics and IR, and IR Theory. Professor Heinze’s research deals with ethical and legal issues in international relations with a focus on international norms pertaining to armed conflict, human rights, and genocide and mass atrocity. His current and recent work is on humanitarian intervention, the Responsibility to Protect, international law and non-state armed groups, and the law and ethics of limited wars.





Pizza will be distributed to attendees at the beginning of the event. Please plan to arrive at the venue promptly.

The Hinckley Institute neither supports nor opposes the views expressed in this forum.