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Ratner, Steven R.

Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law

338 Hutchins Hall

Steven R. Ratner, the Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law, came to Michigan Law in 2004 from the University of Texas School of Law. His teaching and research focus on public international law and on a range of challenges facing governments and international institutions since the Cold War, including territorial disputes, counter-terrorism strategies, ethnic conflict, state and corporate duties regarding foreign investment, and accountability for human rights violations. Professor Ratner has written and lectured extensively on the law of war, and is also interested in the intersection of international law and moral philosophy and other theoretical issues. A member of the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law from 1998 to 2008, he began his legal career as an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department. In 1998-1999, he was appointed by the UN secretary-general to a three-person group of experts to consider options for bringing the Khmer Rouge to justice, and he has since advised governments, NGOs, and international organizations on a range of international law issues. In 2008-2009, he served in the legal division of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. Since 2009, he has served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law and since 2013, he has been an adviser to the American Law Institute for the Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States. In 2010-2011, he was a member of the UN's three-person Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, which advised Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on human rights violations related to the end of the Sri Lankan civil war. He has also served as an expert on international investment law in various arbitrations. He established and directs the Law School's externship program in Geneva. Professor Ratner holds a JD from Yale, an MA (diplôme) from the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales (Geneva), and an AB from Princeton.


Recent Publications

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Co-author. "The Role of the ICRC." R. Giladi, co-author. In The Geneva Conventions in Context: A Commentary, edited by A. Clapham, P. Gaeta, and M. Sassoli. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Forthcoming, 2015.

Co-author. International Law: Norms, Actors, Process: A Problem-Oriented Approach. 4th ed. J. Dunoff and D. Wippman, co-authors. New York: Aspen, 2015.​​​

The Thin Justice of International Law: A Moral Reckoning of the Law of Nations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
MLaw Catalog

"Is international law just?" OUPblog (December 15, 2014).
Full Text: WWW​

"From the ATS to Corporate Criminality under ICL — Mind the Gap." Opinio Juris (November 25, 2014).
Full Text: WWW

​"Beyond Courtroom Arguments: Why International Lawyers Need to Focus More on Persuasion, Part I." EJILTalk (September 10, 2013).
Full Text: WWW​​

​Review of Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World, edited by C. Finklestein, J. D. Ohlin, and A. Altman. Am. J. Int'l. L. 107, no. 1 (2013): 274-8.
Full Text: HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Westlaw | JSTOR (UMich users) | JSTOR

"Self-Defense Against Terrorists: The Meaning of Armed Attack." In Counter-terrorism Strategies in a Fragmented International Legal Order: Meeting the Challenges, edited by N. Schrijver and L. van den Herik, 334-55. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

"Ethics and International Law: Integrating the Global Justice Project(s)." Int'l Theory 5, no. 1 (2013): 1-34.
Full Text: SSRN | WWW

"Behind the Flag of Dunant: Secrecy and the Compliance Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross." In Transparency in International Law, edited by A. Bianchi and A. Peters, 297-320. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Full Text: SSRN

"Persuading to Comply: On the Deployment and Avoidance of Legal Argumentation." In Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Law and International Relations: The State of the Art, edited by J. L. Dunoff and M. A. Pollock, 568-90. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Full Text: SSRN

Co-author. "In Memoriam: Eric Stein." D. Halberstam and M. W. Reimann, co-authors. Am J. Int'l L. 106, no. 1 (2012): 98-101.
Full Text: HEIN (UMich Users) | HEIN

​"Accountability and the Sri Lankan Civil War." Am J. Int'l L. 106, no. 4 (2012): 795-808.
Full Text: Westlaw | JSTOR (UMich users) | JSTOR



Gave a lecture on "The Thin Justice of International Law" at Australian National University's College of Law, July ​2015.

Gave a lecture on "International Law's Ban on Torture: Can a Super-Norm Survive Pervasive Violations?" at Australian National University's Regulato​ry Institutions Network, July 2015.

Professor Ratner's book, The Thin Justice of International Law: A Moral Reckoning of the Law of Nations, was the basis of an online symposium held by the blogs of the European Journal of International Law and Ethics & International Affairs, June 2015.​

Panel commentator, "Lawful vs. Unlawful Expropriation: Is This a Distinction Without a Difference?", Ninth Annual Investment Treaty Arbitration Conference, Washington, D.C., February 2015.​

Presented "Protecting Human Rights Abroad: International Norms and Thin Global Justice," Georgetown University Law Center Human Rights Workshop, Washington, D.C., February 2015.​

Presented "The Thin Justice of International Investment Law," University of Toronto Faculty of Law Legal Theory Workshop, January 2015.​

Gave a presentation to staff attorneys on United Nations fact-finding mechanisms, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office of the Legal Adviser, Jerusalem, Israel, January 2015.​

Gave a presentation to staff attorneys on drone warfare and international law, Israel Defense Forces Military Advocate General International Law Department, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 2015. ​

Presented the 2014 John P. Humphrey Lecture in Human Rights, "After Atrocity: Optimizing UN Action Toward Accountability for Human Rights Abuses," at the Maxwell Cohen Moot Court, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 2014.​

Featured speaker, seminar on "Attacking Syria: The Key Legal Issues," presented by the University of Michigan Law School's Center for International and Comparative Law and Human Rights Advocates, Ann Arbor, September 2013.

Featured speaker on "Drone Strikes, U.S. Policy, and the Law," Australian National University Centre for International and Public Law and Centre for Military and Security Law Public Lecture, Canberra, Australia, August 2013.

Gave the keynote address at the Australian National University Centre for Military and Security Law Workshop on International Humanitarian Law, Anti-Terrorism Laws, and Non-State Actors, Canberra, Australia, August 2013.

Presented "Accountability and the Sri Lankan Civil War," Australian National University Centre for Military and Security Law, Canberra, Australia, July 2013.

Presented "The Thin Justice of International Law," Australian National University Regulatory Institutions Network, Canberra, Australia, July 2013.

Visiting fellow, Australian National University College of Law, Canberra, Australia, July 29-August 2, 2013.

Featured speaker on "Cyber War and Drones: The Implications of War without Soldiers," Societas series, Fondazione Corriere della Sera, Milan, Italy, June 2013.

Presented "Modern Challenges to Investment Treaties" and "The Thin Justice of International Law," Universitá Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Milan, Italy, June 2013.

Panel speaker, "Sri Lanka: Challenges: Implementing International Human Rights and Accountability for Human Rights Violations," Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre, Osgoode Hall School of Law, Toronto, February 2013.

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