Mary Ellen O'Connell

Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law; Concurrent Professor of International Peace Studies, Kroc Institute

Mary Ellen O'Connell

3104 Eck Hall of Law
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Phone: (574) 631-7953
Fax: (574) 631-4197

Mary Ellen O'Connell is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law. 

O’Connell’s research is in the areas of international law on the use of force, arms control, international dispute resolution, international legal theory, and international art and cultural heritage law. She is the author or editor of numerous books and articles on these subjects, including, The Art of Law in the International Community (Cambridge University Press, 2019); Self-Defense against Non-State Actors (with C. Tams and D. Tladi, Cambridge University Press, 2019); and The Power and Purpose of International Law, Insights from the Theory and Practice of Enforcement (Oxford University Press, 2008, paperback 2011).  

In 2020, she was invited to be the Distinguished Visiting Academic at the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research of the University of St Andrews, Scotland. In 2018, O’Connell was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School; a Fulbright Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute and gave the Fifth Annual Justice Stephen Breyer International Law Lecture at the Brookings Institution. Before joining the faculty at Notre Dame, she was a faculty member at The Ohio State University, the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Bologna Center, and Indiana University. From 1995 to 1998, she was a professional military educator for the U.S. Department of Defense in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. She also practiced law with the Washington, D.C.-based international law firm, Covington & Burling. 

O’Connell earned her BA in history at Northwestern with highest honors. She won a Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in the UK, where she earned an MSc in international relations at the LSE and an LLB with first class honors at Cambridge University, in international law. She holds a JD from Columbia Law School where she won the Berger Prize for International Law. In July 2013, O’Connell earned the PhD under special regulation also from Cambridge University.

Mary Ellen O'Connell on Twitter » 

Kroc Cast Podcasts on Peace Studies, discussions of The Art of Law in the International Community, with George Lopez (Aug. 16, 2019), Sam Moyn (Nov. 7, 2019) Maria Stephan (Jan. 24, 2020) and Martha Nussbaum (Sept. 11, 2020) 


Recent Work

Book review: Book Review, 32 Ethics & Int'l Aff. 255 (2018). 

Book Chapter: (2019) “Transnational Legal Process and International Adjudication.” In Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law, edited by S. White and H. Ruiz Fabre. Oxford University Press.

Book Chapter: 2020. “Christianity and the Use of Force: Lex and Pax Christi.” In Christianity and Global Law, edited by Rafael Domingo and John Witte, Jr., 384-401. Routledge.

Book chapter: The United Nations Security Council and Arms Control, A Failure of Responsibility in The Research Handbook on International Arms Control Law (with S. White; T. Marauhn and E.P.J. Myjer, eds. Edward Elgar Publishers, forthcoming)

Journal article: Jain, N. (2021). The Art of Law in the International Community. By Mary Ellen O'Connell. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Pp. x, 320. Index. American Journal of International Law, 115(1), 183-187. doi:10.1017/ajil.2020.91. 

Journal article: Mary Ellen O’Connell, Mary Ellen O’Connell, Review of Chiara Redaelli, Intervention in Civil Wars: Effectiveness, Legitimacy, and Human Rights, European Journal of International Law, 2022;, chab110,

Journal article: Mary Ellen O’Connell (2022) Forever air wars and the lawful purpose of self-defence, Journal on the Use of Force and International Law, 9:1, 33-54, DOI: 10.1080/20531702.2022.2029020

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Curriculum Vitae