Laura A. Dickinson

Portrait of Laura A. Dickinson
Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
United States
[email protected]

Laura A. Dickinson joined GW Law in 2011 as the Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law. Her work focuses on national security, human rights, foreign affairs privatization, and qualitative empirical approaches to international law. Professor Dickinson’s book, Outsourcing War and Peace, published by Yale University Press in 2011, examines the increasing privatization of military, security, and foreign aid functions of government, considers the impact of this trend on core public values, and outlines mechanisms for protecting these values in an era of privatization.

In addition to her scholarly activities, Professor Dickinson has a distinguished record of government service. She served as Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense and was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service for her work there. She has also served as a senior policy adviser to Harold Hongju Koh, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State, and is a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justices Harry A. Blackmun and Stephen G. Breyer, and to Judge Dorothy Nelson of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prior to her position at GW, Professor Dickinson was, from 2008-11, the Foundation Professor of Law and the faculty director of the Center for Law and Global Affairs at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University (ASU). She has also been on the faculty of the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she taught from 2001 to 2008, and she was a Visiting Research Scholar and Visiting Professor in the Law and Public Affairs Program at Princeton University in 2006-2007.

Professor Dickinson is currently a Future of War Fellow with the New America Foundation's International Security Program and Co-chair of the International Law and Technology Section of the American Society of international Law. She has previously served as a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law, and co-organizer of a Collaborative Research Network on Empirical Approaches to International Human Rights Law, convened under the auspices of the Law & Society Association.

Curriculum Vitae     Publications


AB, Harvard University; JD, Yale University

In the News

"Just Security's Symposium on the ICC Afghanistan Probe and the US"

April 05, 2018

Laura A. Dickinson writes in Just Security about the symposium she convened on the ICC Afghanistan investigation and the United States.

"Expert Q&A: The International Criminal Court's Afghanistan Probe and the US"

March 26, 2018

Laura A. Dickinson co-writes in Just Security about the investigation to look into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.

"Symposium: The Trump Administration and International Law–Policy in the Shadow of International Law"

February 21, 2018

Laura A. Dickinson writes in about the relationship between law and policy in national security decision-making.

"Plan to Privatize US War in Afghanistan Gets Icy Reception"

August 12, 2017

Laura A. Dickinson is quoted in VOA about the legal risks to privatize a large portion of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

"A Legal and Policy Risk Analysis of the Erik Prince Plan to Privatize War in Afghanistan"

August 10, 2017

Laura A. Dickinson writes in Just Security about the Trump administration's proposal to privatize the U.S. war in Afghanistan.