Jens David Ohlin

Vice Dean and Professor of Law
Photo of Jens Ohlin
Contact Information
Cornell Law School
218 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

Phone: (607) 255-0479
Fax: (607) 255-7193

Lyndsey Clark
Cornell Law School
315 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

Professional Biography

Professor Ohlin specializes in international law and all aspects of criminal law, including domestic, comparative, and international criminal law. His latest books include Necessity in International Law (2016) (with Larry May), Criminal Law: Doctrine, Application, and Practice (2016), and The Assault on International Law (2015), which challenges the prevailing American hostility towards international institutions 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.


B.A., Skidmore College, 1996
M.A., Columbia University, 1998
M.Phil., Columbia University, 2000
Ph.D., Columbia University, 2002
J.D., Columbia Law School, 2005