PUBLISHED:July 12, 2011

Dunlap takes helm of Duke's national security center

Durham, N.C. — Dean David F. Levi has appointed Visiting Professor of the Practice Charles Dunlap executive director of Duke Law School’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security (LENS), upon the recommendation of the center’s executive board. Professor of the Practice Scott Silliman, who has led the center since its inception in 1993, will continue to serve as an adviser and director emeritus.

Dunlap is a former deputy judge advocate general of the United States Air Force and a prominent scholar and prolific writer on issues relating to national security. He joined the Duke Law faculty in July 2010 as a visiting professor of the practice and associate director of the center.

“Under Professor Silliman’s leadership, the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke Law has become one of the leading generators of scholarship and commentary on the legal challenges faced by the military and government officials who protect our nation,” said Dean David F. Levi. “Charlie is a worthy successor to Scott Silliman. Professor Silliman served as director for the last 18 years and, with the late Professor and Judge Robinson Everett, is responsible for the center’s excellence and reputation. Professor Dunlap brings outstanding experience from his many years in the Air Force as well as a deep appreciation for the ways in which academic study of these issues can benefit those in the field.”

Dunlap served 34 years in the Judge Advocate Corps and in his capacity as deputy judge advocate general assisted in the professional supervision of more than 2,200 judge advocates, 350 civilian lawyers, 1,400 enlisted paralegals, and 500 civilians around the world. In addition to overseeing an array of military justice, operational, international, and civil law functions, he provided legal advice to the staff and commanders at all levels. He has published commentary on a variety of topics in leading newspapers and military journals; his 2001 essay on “lawfare” — a concept he defines as “the use or misuse of law as a substitute for traditional military means to accomplish an operational objective” — has been highly influential among military scholars and in the broader legal academy.

Dunlap said the center will continue to fulfill the vision of its founder, the late Professor Robinson Everett (1928-2009). A longtime member of the Duke Law faculty and a former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Everett established the center in 1993 to sponsor and encourage education, research, and publications on national security law topics and to convene conferences and seminars that would bring together scholars and practitioners in the field.

In addition to organizing and hosting the center’s annual conference, which draws military leaders and government officials from around the world to Duke each spring, Dunlap hopes to broaden the center’s emphasis on global security issues. He aims to develop new courses on global security topics for Duke Law students while continuing to support publications, commentary, and public events.

“I like to write and hope to continue a variety of writings, some aimed at academicians and area specialists, but also some targeting a broader if not general audience,” Dunlap said. “A significant ancillary benefit of this is the chance to educate more of the security community about the center, and what Duke Law School offers.”

Silliman, who plans to retire in two years, will continue to teach, speak, and conduct research in the areas of national security law, military law, and the law of armed conflict, and to assist Dunlap as he assumes leadership of the center.

“It has been a tremendous privilege for me to have worked with Robinson Everett in establishing LENS in 1993 and in directing for the last 18 years what is recognized as one of the premier academic centers in the country for the study of national security law and policy,” said Silliman. “Professor Dunlap, whom I have known for over 20 years, is the right person to take the center to the next level of excellence.”

Dunlap stressed that the center will maintain its commitment to providing opportunities to study and work in national security law to students.

“While students interested in public service, or service with nongovernmental organizations, are often attracted to the center’s courses and activities, my view is that every lawyer these days needs to understand something about national — and, again, international — security,” he said. “After all, understanding what one’s government is doing in the name of its citizenry — especially when so many lives are at risk — is central to responsible civic culture, not to mention the rule of law.”

LENS is principally funded through a trust created by the estate of Kathrine R. Everett, the mother and longtime law partner of Professor Robinson Everett, and is advised by executive board of distinguished scholars. See the center’s website for more information.