Chris Jenks

Chris Jenks

Director of Criminal Justice Clinic, Dedman School of Law

Chris Jenks joined the SMU Law faculty in Fall 2012 and teaches criminal law, evidence, and the law of armed conflict. His research considers how the nature and type of armed conflict (peacekeeping, coalition, non-international, international) impact accountability norms and practice. He is currently researching the efficacy of the law of armed conflict as applied to lethal autonomous weapons.

Professor Jenks is a fellow at the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law’s Program on Emerging Military Technology at Melbourne Law School in Australia and at SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, and serves as the deputy course director the Peace Support Operations course at the International Institute for Humanitarian Law in Sanremo, Italy. Prior to joining the SMU law faculty, Professor Jenks served in the US Army, first as an Infantry Officer and later as a Judge Advocate, and was detailed to the Office of the Legal Adviser at the Department of State and as a Special Assistant US Attorney on both the civil and criminal side at the Department of Justice.

He is the co-author of a law of armed conflict textbook and has published book chapters with both Oxford and Cambridge University presses. His articles have appeared in the law reviews and journals of Harvard, Berkeley, Georgetown, Stanford, & Washington & Lee and the International Review of the Red Cross. His blog posts have been featured on Lawfare, Just Security, and Opinio Juris. He has presented to House and Senate Staffers on Capitol Hill, at the American Society of International Law, the Council on Foreign Relations, and at universities and institutes around the world.

In 2016, he presented at the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Expert Meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS) in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2015, he was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholars Grant to research LAWS as part of a multidisciplinary research group based out of Melboune, Australia. He has spoken on LAWS at the Australian Defence Legal Division Headquarters, the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, and at the University of Oxford. In 2014, he served on a working group on the environment and armed conflict at the United Nations in New York organized by the Special Rapporteur for the International Law Commission. And in 2013, he served as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense on security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Prior to joining the SMU faculty, Professor Jenks served for more than 20 years in the U.S. military, first as an infantry officer serving in Germany, Kuwait and as a NATO peacekeeper in Bosnia, and then as a judge advocate serving near the demilitarized zone in the Republic of Korea and later in Iraq, where he provided law of armed conflict advice on targeting and detention issues during combat operations. The Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section nominated him for the John Marshall Award for interagency cooperation following his work as the lead prosecutor in the Army’s first counterterrorism trial involving a soldier who attempted to aid an al-Qaeda terrorist. While working in the human rights and refugees section of the Office of the Legal Adviser at the Department of State, he served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. In his last assignment, Professor Jenks served as the chief of the international law branch for the U.S. Army in the Pentagon, where he supervised the program by which foreign countries asserted criminal jurisdiction over U.S. service members and represented the DOD at Status of Forces Agreement negotiations; he was also the legal adviser to the U.S. military observers group, which provides personnel to U.N. missions around the world.