Melvin Christopher Jenks Senior Scholars
|Home Institution||Southern Methodist University|
|Host Institution||The University of Melbourne|
|Award Name||Senior Scholarship|
|Discipline||Law – International Law|
Chris teaches and writes on the law of armed conflict. He is the co-author of a law of armed conflict textbook, co-editor of a forthcoming war crimes casebook, and served as a peer reviewer of the Talinn Manual on the international law applicable to cyber warfare.
He has published articles on drones, child soldiers, extraordinary rendition, law of war detention, targeting and government contractors. He has also spoken on those same topics at universities and institutes in Africa, Asia, Europe and Central and South America. Chris recently served as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense on U.S. military security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Prior to joining the SMU faculty, Chris served for over 20 years in the military. After graduating from West Point, he was commissioned as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. Chris served as a rifle platoon leader, executive officer and in battalion and brigade staff positions in the U.S., Europe, and in deployments to Kuwait and Bosnia.
Following graduation from law school, Chris transitioned to the U.S. Army JAG Corps and was assigned as the primary international and operational law advisor near the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. During this assignment, he defended Status of Forces Agreement rights of American soldiers during South Korean interrogations and trials in high profile and politically sensitive criminal cases.
Following his return to the U.S. in 2003, Chris served as the lead prosecutor in the Army’s first counterterrorism case, a fully contested, classified court-martial of a soldier attempting to aid Al Qaeda. He coordinated the investigative efforts of 30 law enforcement agents from four separate federal agencies on three continents and the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism section nominated him for the John Marshall award for interagency cooperation.
In 2004, he deployed to Mosul, Iraq and served as chief legal advisor to a unit of over 4000 soldiers. There he provided targeting advice for the employment of artillery, close air support and direct fire weapons during enemy engagements in a city of two million people. Chris also advised investigations and served as prosecutor for crimes against the civilian population, detainee abuse, and fratricide.
Before moving to Dallas, Chris was most recently stationed in Washington D.C., holding numerous positions, including attorney adviser at the Department of State and his most recent position as chief of the International Law Branch of the Office of The Judge Advocate General in the Pentagon.
While at the Department of State, Chris served at the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York City and represented the U.S. during negotiations on cultural and humanitarian resolutions pending before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly
As the Army’s international law branch chief, he oversaw the foreign exercise of criminal jurisdiction over US service members, represented the Department of Defence at status of forces agreement negotiations and served as the legal advisor to the U.S. Military Observers Group, which provides military officers to United Nations Missions around the world.
Chris’ goal in working with the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law is to identify criminal responsibility norms which will help further both the discussion and reconciliation of emerging technologies and accountability under the law of armed conflict.