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The Annual Senator George J. Mitchell Peace Lecture 2024

The Fate of Civilians in War: The Effects and Effectiveness of International Conventions

February 13, 2024
Senate Room, Lanyon Building, QUB
16:00 - 17:30

The Senator George J. Mitchell Peace Lecture Series celebrates and recognises Senator Mitchell’s contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process and to conflict resolution in the Middle East.  His aim of transforming conflict and promoting social justice in Northern Ireland and across the world is shared by our Institute.

The Annual Peace Lecture series was inaugurated in 2018 with a lecture from President Mary Robinson on climate justice.  President Robinson has subsequently become Chair of The Elders and has held prestigious posts in Ireland and the United Nations.


Speaker: Professor Neta Crawford (Balliol College, University of Oxford)

Chair: Professor Richard English (Queen's University Belfast)


The Lecture

In the wake of several episodes of mass atrocity in the twentieth century, the international community articulated new legal conventions designed to prevent deliberate harm to civilians and other noncombatants in international and civil conflicts.  These include the Genocide Convention (1948); the four Geneva Conventions (1949); the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Convention (1977) and the Responsibility to Protect (2005).

In this Lecture, Professor Neta Crawford will explore:

  • What impact, if any, have those conventions had in either preventing or reducing the harm that civilians have suffered? 
  • Why are civilians still dying in large numbers in war? 
  • Who is morally responsible for those deaths and for the long term harm to civilians that occurs as a consequence of the destruction of infrastructure?


The Speaker

Neta C. Crawford, FBA is the Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford.  She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the British Academy.  Her publications include Accountability for Killing: Moral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America's Post-9/11 Wars (Oxford University Press, 2013).  Her most recent book, The Pentagon, Climate Change and War: Charting the Rise and Fall of U.S. Military Emissions (MIT Press, 2022) won the 2023 American Book Award and the 2024 Grawemeyer Prize for World Order.  Crawford is also the Co-Director of the Costs of War Project, based at Brown University.

Her research interests include:

  • International relations theory
  • Normative theory, foreign policy decision making
  • Sanctions
  • Climate change
  • Climate security
  • Military greenhouse gas emissions
  • US foreign and military policy
  • Peace movements
  • Discourse ethics
  • Research design
  • Utopian science fiction and emotion


The Annual Senator George J. Mitchell Peace Lecture Series

13 October 2022

Human Rights, Justice and Negotiating Peace with Terrorists: The Case of Afghanistan

Mr Nader Nadery


29 October 2020

After Remorse, the Impossibility of Repair

Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela


8 October 2019

Interconnectedness for Peace in Our Times

Dr Mamphela Ramphele


6 November 2018

Senator George J. Mitchell: A True Champion of Peace

President Mary Robinson


The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
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