Prof Chris Jenks


Prof Chris Jenks

Senior Fellow | Lieber

Chris Jenks is a Professor of Law at the SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas. He is a fellow at the Center for Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence in Arlington, Virginia and a research fellow at the Program on the Regulation of Emerging Military Technology in Australia. Professor Jenks’ research interests are at the intersection of the law of armed conflict, accountability norms, and emerging technology. He is the co-author of a law of armed conflict textbook and has published articles and book chapters on both drones and autonomous weapons.

In 2020 he testified at a Commission on Security Cooperation in Europe hearing on Artificial Weapons and Autonomous Systems. In 2019, he worked with both the Defense Innovation Board and the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.  Between 2017-2018, while on leave from SMU and serving as the Special Counsel to the General Counsel for the Department of Defense, Professor Jenks twice served on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts meetings on Lethal Autonomous Weapons in Geneva, Switzerland.  He previously presented on autonomous weapons at a similar United Nations meeting. In 2015, he was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholars Grant to research autonomous weapons as part of a multidisciplinary research group based out of Melbourne, Australia. 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.

Professor Jenks is a graduate of the United States Military Academy (B.S.); the University of Arizona College of Law (J.D.), The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (LL.M.) and Georgetown Law (LL.M.)

Articles by Professor Jenks can be found on his SSRN page.

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