Focus areas: International relations, international law, humanitarian intervention and the global regime for migration

Michael Doyle specializes in international relations theory, international security, and international organizations.

Doyle previously served as assistant secretary-general and special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan from 2001 to 2003. His responsibilities included strategic planning (Millennium Development Goals), outreach to the international corporate sector (the Global Compact), and relations with Washington.

Doyle has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1992 and is the former chair of the Academic Council of the United Nations System. He has also been a senior fellow and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Peace Institute since 1996. In 2001, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; in 2009, to the American Philosophical Society; and in 2012, to the American Academy of Political and Social Science. He served as chair of the board of the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) from 2006–2013. On July 15, 2014 the University of Warwick conferred on him an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) upon Doyle in recognition of his research and publications on Peace Theory.

Doyle holds a BA from Harvard College (1970), and an MA (1972) and PhD (1977) from Harvard University.

Research & Publications

November 2011|Routledge|Michael Doyle

Comprising essays by Michael W. Doyle, Liberal Peace examines the special significance of liberalism for international relations.

The volume begins by outlining the two legacies of liberalism in international relations - how and why liberal states have maintained peace among themselves while at the same time being prone to making war against non-liberal states. Exploring policy implications, the author focuses on the strategic value of the inter-liberal democratic community and how it can be protected, preserved, and enlarged, and whether liberals can go beyond a separate peace to a more integrated global democracy. Finally, the volume considers when force should and should not be used to promote national security and human security across borders, and argues against President George W. Bush’s policy of "transformative" interventions. The concluding essay engages with scholarly critics of the liberal democratic peace.

This book will be of great interest to students of international relations, foreign policy, political philosophy, and security studies.

October 2011|Princeton University Press|Michael Doyle, Stephen Macedo

Does the United States have the right to defend itself by striking first, or must it wait until an attack is in progress? Is the Bush Doctrine of aggressive preventive action a justified and legal recourse against threats posed by terrorists and rogue states? Tackling one of the most controversial policy issues of the post-September 11 world, Michael Doyle argues that neither the Bush Doctrine nor customary international law is capable of adequately responding to the pressing security threats of our times.

In Striking First, Doyle shows how the Bush Doctrine has consistently disregarded a vital distinction in international law between acts of preemption in the face of imminent threats and those of prevention in the face of the growing offensive capability of an enemy. Taking a close look at the Iraq war, the 1998 attack against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, among other conflicts, he contends that international law must rely more completely on United Nations Charter procedures and develop clearer standards for dealing with lethal but not immediate threats.

After explaining how the UN can again play an important role in enforcing international law and strengthening international guidelines for responding to threats, he describes the rare circumstances when unilateral action is indeed necessary. Based on the 2006 Tanner Lectures at Princeton University, Striking First includes responses by distinguished political theorists Richard Tuck and Jeffrey McMahan and international law scholar Harold Koh, yielding a lively debate that will redefine how--and for what reasons--tomorrow's wars are fought.

October 2008|Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases|Michael Doyle