Dustin A. Lewis is a Senior Researcher at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC). With a focus on public international law sources and methodologies, Mr. Lewis leads research into normative, theoretical, and practical aspects of wide-ranging contemporary challenges concerning armed conflict. He examines such topics as algorithm-infused decision-making and conduct in relation to armed conflict; impartial medical care and medical ethics in connection with state responses to terrorism; extraterritorial use of lethal force at the crossroads of war and policing; legal end-points of contemporary armed conflicts; and tensions at the intersections between counterterrorism frameworks and humanitarian action. 

Dustin A. Lewis, HLS PILAC Senior Researcher

Mr. Lewis oversees HLS PILAC’s publications, research assistants, and online platforms. He contributes to the Program’s events, case studies, and workshops. And he regularly presents research to an array of audiences, such as governments (including military, foreign-policy, human-rights, and humanitarian departments); the United Nations system; members of the media; and non-governmental organizations. Before helping establish HLS PILAC in 2014, Mr. Lewis served in a variety of roles, including as a Senior Researcher at the HLS–Brookings Project on Law and Security; a Project Manager and Technical Lead at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the HLS Library; a Program Associate at the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research; and a Visiting Professional in Chambers at the International Criminal Court. He is an honors graduate of Harvard College (A.B.) and Utrecht University School of Law (LL.M.).

[Biography last updated: August 2018]

Legal Research Fields

  • International humanitarian law/law of armed conflict/jus in bello

  • International criminal law

  • Jus ad bellum/jus contra bellum

  • International human rights law

  • Responsibility of states and of international organizations

  • International legal aspects of (counter)terrorism

  • U.N. Security Council


E-mail: dlewis@law.harvard.edu. Before contacting him, please review this website’s “Contact” page [link], which explains that Mr. Lewis is currently in a position to respond primarily to messages — whether concerning, for instance, speaking or interview requests or research/analysis inquiries — that pertain directly to a relevant HLS PILAC portfolio. Thus, due to time constraints, Mr. Lewis may not be able to respond to all inquiries.

Select Publications

SSRN Author Page


Armed Non-State Actors and International Human Rights Law: An Analysis of the Practice of the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly,” June 2017 (co-author with Jessica S. Burniske and Naz K. Modirzadeh).

Indefinite War: Unsettled International Law on the End of Armed Conflict,” Legal Briefing, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, February 2017 (co-author with Gabriella Blum and Naz K. Modirzadeh). See also a related Lawfare post [link].

War-Algorithm Accountability,” Research Briefing, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, August 2016 (co-author with Gabriella Blum and Naz K. Modirzadeh). See also a related Lawfare post [link]; PHAP Expert Briefing [link]; and the PHAP-event Question-and-Answer [link].

Suppressing Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Supporting Principled Humanitarian Action: A Provisional Framework for Analyzing State Practice,” Briefing Report, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, October 2015 (co-author with Jessica Burniske and Naz K. Modirzadeh).

Medical Care in Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law and State Responses to Terrorism,” Legal Briefing, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, September 2015 (co-author with Naz K. Modirzadeh and Gabriella Blum). See also a related Lawfare post [link], Bill of Health Blog post [link], and a Lawfare Podcast episode [link].

Select Blog Posts

The Pentagon’s New Algorithmic-Warfare Team,” Lawfare, June 26, 2017 (co-author)

Indefinite War,” Lawfare, February 27, 2017 (co-author)

Accountability for Algorithmic Autonomy in War,Lawfare, September 12, 2016 (co-author)

Amid Investigations of Hospital Bombings, Don’t Lose Sight of Key Principles,” Lawfare, October 30, 2015 (co-author)

PILAC Report on Wartime Medical Care for Terrorists,” Bill of Health Blog, October 5, 2015

Medical Care in Armed Conflict: IHL and State Responses to Terrorism,” Lawfare, September 8, 2015 (co-author)

HLS PILAC Online Resources

Database of States’ Statements (August 2011–November 2016) concerning Use of Force in Relation to Syria,” project director, May 2017

International Counterterrorism Efforts: An Initial Mapping,” editor and project director, February 2015 

Working Group Briefing Memoranda

Katie King with Naz K. Modirzadeh and Dustin A. Lewis, “Understanding Humanitarian Exemptions: U.N. Security Council Practice and Principled Humanitarian Action,” Working Group Briefing Memorandum, Counterterrorism and Humanitarian Engagement Project, April 2016.  

Harvard Law School Case Studies

Somalia in Crisis: Famine, Counterterrorism, and Humanitarian Aid,” Harvard Law School Case Studies Program, February 2015 (co-author):

Part A: General Background Document

Part B1: The National Security Council Dilemma

Part B2: The NGO General Counsel Dilemma

Humanitarian Practice Network Paper

Counter-terrorism laws and regulations: what aid agencies need to know,” Humanitarian Practice Network Paper, Overseas Development Institute, No. 79, November 2014 (co-author)

Select Research and Policy Papers

An Analysis of Contemporary Counterterrorism-related Clauses in Humanitarian Grant and Partnership Agreement Contracts,” Research and Policy Paper, Counterterrorism and Humanitarian Engagement Project, May 2014 (unattributed) 

An Analysis of Contemporary Anti-Diversion Policies and Practices of Humanitarian Organizations,” Research and Policy Paper, Counterterrorism and Humanitarian Engagement Project, May 2014 (unattributed)

Chapters in Edited Volumes

Dustin A. Lewis, Humanitarian Exemptions from Counter-terrorism Measures: A Brief Introduction, in 47 Proceedings of the Bruges Colloquium 141 (2017)

Jurisdictional Arrangements and International Criminal Procedure,” in International Criminal Procedure: Principles and Rules (eds. Göran Sluiter, Håkan Friman, Suzannah Linton, Sergey Vasiliev, and Salvatore Zappalà, Oxford, 2013), pp. 116–128, published as part of the International Criminal Procedure Expert Framework (co-author, with Sarah M. H. Nouwen)

Journal Articles

Humanitarian engagement under counter-terrorism: a conflict of norms and the emerging policy landscape,” International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 93, No. 883, pp. 623–47 (Sept. 2011) (co-author)

Unrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence against Men in Conflict Settings under International Law,” Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 1–49 (2009)