Kenneth Anderson


Kenneth Anderson is a professor of international law at Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, DC, and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. He specializes in international law. Formerly general counsel to the Open Society Institute and director of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division, Anderson has written Living with the UN: American Responsibilities and International Order (2012), and a new book with Benjamin Wittes, Speaking the Law: The Obama Administration’s Addresses on National Security Law (2013), both published by the Hoover Institution Press. Anderson blogs at the law professor websites Volokh Conspiracy and Opinio Juris, and is the book review editor of the national security law website Lawfare.

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Recent Commentary


Book Review: Judicial Review Of National Security By David Scharia

by Kenneth Andersonvia Lawfare
Thursday, April 16, 2015

David Scharia is an Israeli national security lawyer with experience prosecuting Israeli terrorism cases before the Israeli courts, including service on the Attorney General of Israel’s legal staff.

Complexities of CybersecurityFeatured Commentary

Comparing The Strategic And Legal Features Of Cyberwar, Drone Warfare, And Autonomous Weapon Systems

by Kenneth Andersonvia The Briefing
Friday, February 27, 2015

Cyberwar, targeted killing using remotely-piloted drones, and autonomous weapon systems (AWS) are all emerging weapon technologies and operational capabilities that are, or gradually will come to be, available to the world’s advanced militaries — and in some instances, available to non-state actors and individuals as well. 


Readings: An International Legal Framework for Surveillance, a New Article by Ashley Deeks

by Kenneth Andersonvia Lawfare
Friday, September 26, 2014

Lawfare’s own Ashley Deeks (University of Virginia School of Law) has released a new article, “An International Legal Framework for Surveillance,” available on SSRN and forthcoming in the Virginia Journal of International Law (Vol. 55, 2015). 

Speaking the Law book cover
Featured Commentary

Speaking the Law: Chapters 4 and 5

by Kenneth Anderson, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Hoover Institution has released Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of our serialized book: Speaking the Law: The Obama Administration’s Addresses on National Security Law. Here are the Introduction and Chapter 1Chapter 2,  and Chapter 3.

Speaking the Law: Chapter 5

by Kenneth Anderson, Benjamin Wittesvia Analysis
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In chapter 5, the authors look at the criticisms of the Obama administration’s legal policies on counterterrorism from both the political Right and the political Left—and explain why they largely reject both. They assert that although the framework of law and legitimacy that the administration has laid out is not without its problems, the legal, ethical, and policy framework is far more robust, as a matter of law, morality, and legitimacy, than the critics acknowledge. Moreover, in the view of the authors, it compares favorably with all the alternatives the various strains of critics have proposed in its stead.

Speaking the Law: Chapter 4

by Kenneth Anderson, Benjamin Wittesvia Analysis
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In chapter 4, the authors discuss the Obama administration’s speeches in response to the NSA revelations made public by Edward Snowden and review the involvement of other branches of government in the legal framework described in the administration’s national security speeches. They explore the degree to which each branch is implicated in major aspects of the administration’s position. They also look at the degree to which the international system and its actors—other countries and international nongovernmental organizations—have had their voices heard, even though outsiders to the government, and have exerted leverage to influence it.


Readings: Adapting the Law of Armed Conflict to Autonomous Weapon Systems

by Kenneth Anderson, Matthew Waxmanvia Lawfare
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We are pleased to share our recently published article on law and autonomous weapons, on which we teamed up with our good friend Daniel Reisner (formerly head of the Israel Defense Forces International Law Department). The article, “Adapting the Law of Armed Conflict to Autonomous Weapon Systems,” appears as 90 International Law Studies 386 (2014), available online at SSRN (free pdf download).

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Readings: Can Non-State Actors Mount an Armed Attack? by Kimberly N. Trapp

by Kenneth Andersonvia Lawfare
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Among the issues separating the American understanding of international law regarding transnational non-state actor armed groups from that of the “international community” (or at least an influential and significant part of UN officialdom, international law academics, international tribunals, international human rights NGOs, and governments particularly in Europe) is whether it is even possible for a non-state actor to mount an “armed attack” against a state, within the meaning of the UN Charter.

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Readings: The Diffusion of Drone Warfare: Industrial, Infrastructural and Organizational Constraints by Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli

by Kenneth Andersonvia Lawfare
Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Political science graduate students Andrea Gilli (European Union Institute, Florence) and Mauro Gilli (Northwestern University, Evanston) have posted a new and provocative paper to SSRN–“The Diffusion of Drone Warfare: Industrial, Infrastructural and Organizational Constraints.”

Featured Commentary

Al-Aulaqi ‘Bivens’ Damages Suit in Drone Strikes Dismissed

by Kenneth Andersonvia The Volokh Conspiracy (Washington Post)
Monday, April 7, 2014