John C. Dehn, former Army detainee abuse prosecutor; J.S.D. candidate, Columbia University

The Laws of War in Comparative Perspective: the Past, the Present and Implications for the Future

Thu, 03/31/2011
6:00 PM, by invitation only
Graduate Students
Policy Students

The Program in Law and Public Affairs invites MPP/MPA students to the next dinner in this year's series, Law in the Public Service: Not Just for Lawyers, where our guest will be John C. Dehn, former Army detainee abuse prosecutor; J.S.D. candidate, Columbia University.

John C. Dehn is a former Army detainee abuse prosecutor and J.S.D. candidate at Columbia University studying the laws of war and their relationship to U.S. law. He spent eight years as a Judge Advocate of the United States Army before accepting a teaching position at West Point. As a Judge Advocate, Dehn was Prosecution Team Chief for allegations of detainee abuse by U.S. soldiers resulting in the deaths of two Afghani detainees. At West Point, he teaches the course on Constitutional and Military Law and serves as Deputy Course Director for more than 1,000 students. His publications and presentations have included examinations of law and policies concerning hostage rescue, humanitarian intervention, private military contracting, and the roles of president and congress in the war on terror. John Dehn is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, University of Oklahoma College of Law, The Judge Advocate General's School. He recently received an LLM from Columbia Law School.

From John Dehn: "I will briefly outline the origins of the laws of war (a.k.a. international humanitarian law) in Europe and the U.S. and their development in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries. This development seems to be heavily influenced by the differences in their domestic (common vs. civil law) legal traditions as well as older notions of customary international law. Considering these factors helps to explain both the nature and progression of treaties governing international armed conflict, as well as various points of convergence and divergence in the transatlantic understanding of the law applicable in non-international armed conflict, the predominant form of conflict today. These and other developments in Europe may also in part explain the increasingly divergent transatlantic views of the applicability of human rights law in armed conflict, particularly non-international armed conflict. Finally, I will offer some thoughts about the implications of these diverging views in current and future mutual defense arrangements and military operations."

This event is by invitation only. If interested, please e-mail Judi Rivkin at