Michael A. Newton

Professor of the Practice of Law
Director, Vanderbilt-in-Venice Program

Michael Newton is an expert on accountability, transnational justice, and conduct of hostilities issues. Over the course of his career, he has published more than 80 books, articles and book chapters. He currently serves as senior editor of the Terrorism International Case Law Reporter, an annual series published by Oxford University Press since 2007. Professor Newton is an elected member of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and the International Bar Association. At Vanderbilt, he developed and teaches the innovative International Law Practice Lab which provides expert assistance to judges and lawyers, governments, and policy-makers around the world. Under his leadership, Practice Lab students have completed projects for ongoing litigation, international organizations such as the UN Office of Drugs and Crime and the Conduct and Disciplinary Office, and Foreign Ministries in a number of nations. He also develops and coordinates externships and other educational opportunities for students interested in international legal issues, and has supervised more than 150 such opportunities in the past three years. Professor Newton currently serves on the executive council of the American Society of International Law (ASIL), and has previously served on its Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward the International Criminal Court and on an experts group in support of the Task Force on Genocide Prevention established by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He is presently serving on the Advisory Board of the ABA International Criminal Court Project. He has supervised Vanderbilt law students working in support of the Public International Law Policy Group to advise the governments of Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Peru and other nations. Professor Newton negotiated the "Elements of Crimes" document for the International Criminal Court, and coordinated the interface between the FBI and the ICTY while deploying into Kosovo to do the forensics fieldwork in support of the Milosevic indictment. As the senior advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the U.S. State Department, Professor Newton implemented a wide range of policy positions related to the law of armed conflict, including U.S. support to accountability mechanisms worldwide. He was the senior member of the team that taught international law to the first group of Iraqis who began to think about accountability mechanisms and a constitutional structure in November 2000. He subsequently assisted in drafting the Statute of the Iraqi High Tribunal, and served as International Law Advisor to the Iraqi Judicial Chambers in 2006 and 2007. Professor Newton has taught Iraqi jurists on seven other occasions, both inside and outside Iraq and as part of the academic consortium he assists Vanderbilt students in providing substantive advice to the lawyers in Iraq. He served as the U.S. representative on the U.N. Planning Mission for the Sierra Leone Special Court, and was also a member of the Special Court academic consortium. From January 1999 to August 2000, he served in the State Department's Office of War Crimes Issues. Professor Newton began his distinguished military career as an armor officer in the 4th Battalion, 68th Armor, Fort Carson, Colorado, until his selection for the Judge Advocate General's Funded Legal Education Program. As an operational military attorney, he served with the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina in support of units participating in Desert Storm. Following duty as the chief of operational law, he served as the group judge advocate for the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He deployed on Operation Provide Comfort to assist Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq, as well as a number of other exercises and operations. From 1993-95 he was reassigned as the brigade judge advocate for the 194th Armored Brigade (Separate), during which time he organized and led the human rights and rules of engagement education for all Multinational Forces and International Police deploying into Haiti. He subsequently was appointed as a professor of international and operational law at the Judge Advocate General's School and Center in Charlottesville, Virginia from 1996-99. 

Research Interests

International humanitarian law, international criminal law, special tribunals, terrorism/counterterrorism and national security law

Representative Publications

  • "Charging War Crimes: Policy and Prognosis," Chapter 28 in The Law and Practice of the International Criminal Court: A Critical Account of Challenges and Achievements (Carsten Stahn editor, Oxford University Press, 2015)
    Full Text | WWW
  • Prosecuting Maritime Piracy: Domestic Solutions to International Crimes, Cambridge University Press (2015) (with Michael P. Scharf and Milena Sterio)
    Full Text | WWW
  • Proportionality in International Law, Oxford University Press (2014)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Evolving Equality: The Development of the International Defense Bar," 47 Stanford Journal of International Law 379 (2011) (Winner, International Association of Penal Law, American National Section Article of the Year Award 2011, Awarded for Scholarly Contribution to the Field)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "The Quest for Constructive Complementarity," in The ICC and Complementarity: From Theory to Practice, (Cambridge University Press, 2011) (Carsten Stahn & Mohamed El Zeidy, eds.)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Illustrating Illegitimate Lawfare," 43 Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law 255 (2011). Reprinted online by International Relations and Security Network, Zurich, Switzerland.
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Reconsidering Reprisals," 21 Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law 361 (2010)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Why Criminal Culpability Should Follow the Critical Path: Reframing the Theory of ‘Effective Control,'" 40 Netherlands Yearbook of International Law 3 (2009 edition, 2010)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Exceptional Engagement: Protocol I and a World United Against Terror,” 42 Texas Journal of International Law 2 (2009)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • Enemy of the State: The Trial and Execution of Saddam Hussein, St. Martin's Press (Winner 2009 Book of the Year Award of the International Association of Penal Law, American National Section)

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Contact Information

(615) 322-2912 (voice)
(615) 322-6131 (fax)
Room 298 (office)

Curriculum Vitae



LL.M., J.D. University of Virginia
LL.M. The Judge Advocate General's School
B.S. United States Military Academy at West Point