Program Descriptions

The Center on Law and Security is a research and policy institute dedicated to examining critical questions of national security law and national security strategy.  

The Center's programs have three focal points:

Law and Strategy

In the post-9/11 era, questions of national security strategy and questions of national security law have often merged, and the relationship between “Can we?” and “Should we?” in the consideration of many important national security decisions has been blurred.  Certain legal questions, such as the criteria that should be applied to carry out drone strikes abroad, or whether to try terrorist suspects in civilian courts, have taken on strategic import.  At the same time, quintessentially strategic questions, like how to define the enemy, have been addressed by legal actors like courts.  The Center’s program on Law and Strategy will analyze the causes and consequences of this phenomenon to better understand some of the most important factors driving the shift in national security processes and outcomes since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Learn More

Public-Private Partnerships in National Security 

      The private sector has long worked with government to accomplish national security objectives. Recently, however, the private sector’s role has been redefined, with companies in a range of industries partnering with the government to accomplish national security objectives in areas such as telecommunications, data collection and analysis, cybersecurity, and community engagement.  CLS will explore the nature of these relationships in order to better understand the “partnership agreement” between the government and the private sector, and how the rules governing these interactions should change over time to account for a shifting threat environment and rapidly evolving technology. Learn More

Global National Security Law 

In the decade after the 9/11 attacks, countries around the world have had to face a new type of terrorism with the potential to inflict harm on an unprecedented scale.  In confronting this threat, states—in particular Western democracies—have had to confront complex issues like the proper role of the judiciary in national security decision-making, and the appropriate functions, organization, and oversight of intelligence agencies.  The Center’s program in Global National Security Law will analyze developments in national security law around the world in the last decade, identifying points of continuity and discontinuity, ascertaining lessons-learned, and considering prudent reforms. Learn More


The Center has received the support of The Luce Foundation, The Markle Foundation, The Carnegie Corporation, The John Merck Fund, The William C. Bullitt Foundation, The JEHT Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and private individuals, for its various projects.