History of the Lexington Principles Project
Though the Lexington Principles Project began at Washington and Lee University and is housed at Washington and Lee School of Law, the Project is an independent international project whose members come from many different disciplines. We are fortunate that in this electronic age contributions come in at lightning speed from all over the globe, and our work is disseminated the same way.
The Lexington Principles Project was born at Washington & Lee University during the 2007 Institute for Honor Symposium on "Moral Responsibility and the Modern American Presidency." The event featured speeches by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, architect of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the genocide in the former Yugoslavia, and W&L Law School's Dr. Mark Drumbl, a renowned global scholar on international criminal law.
After impassioned speeches by Holbrooke and Drumbl, several notable W&L alumni and professors in attendance began to discuss the deficiencies in the present domestic and international legal frameworks with considerable enthusiasm. Unsatisfied with the possibility of deficiencies in the American legal system, esteemed W&L Economics Professor Emeritus, John Gunn, challenged this group of his former students to see what they could do to help solve the detainee treatment problem. A firm believer that good ideas and an honorable group of minds are all that is ever needed to change the world, Professor Gunn felt that there was perhaps no organization better suited to advance human rights than Washington and Lee University.
Inspired by the challenge laid forth by their former professor, Colonel Tom Greenwood USMC and attorney Bob Feagin resolved to begin an effort to make America's detainee treatment standards the best in the world. Colonel Greenwood, a decorated Marine Corps officer, had been dismayed that the noble dedication to ethical standards he had witnessed on the part of almost every American soldier he encountered throughout his lengthy career, was now being. tarnished He felt that gaps in the legal framework only served to help those seeking to misrepresent America's commitment to the human rights of its detainees. Bob Feagin, Chairman of the Founders Committee of the Institute for Honor, pledged to mobilize the considerable resources at his disposal to create a formal Lexington-based initiative aimed at collecting the ideas and minds necessary to try to meet the challenge set forth by his former economics professor. Naturally, the first mind he recruited was that of Dr. Mark Drumbl.
Professor John Gunn, eager to put his former students and beloved University to the test, immediately arranged the first formal meeting of the Lexington Principles Project. The group included Professor Gunn, Colonel Greenwood, Bob Feagin, Mark Drumbl, and two new additions: W&L Law alumnus Brooke Lewis and Dr. Kathryn Zunich, a member of Physicians for Human Rights. Brooke Lewis had served as the Federal Aviation Administration's liaison to the 9/11 Commission, and was enthusiastic about the opportunity to use his expertise to implement the recommendations of that Commission related to international law. He felt that American detainee treatment practices must be heralded as the most humane in the world, not only to better reflect our nation's commitment to fundamental human rights, but also to help these values prevail in the global effort against ideologies which embrace murder and religious hatred. Brooke Lewis was selected to chair the new initiative, and the Lexington Principles Project was officially formed. W&L alumnus and prominent Washington D.C. attorney, Bennett Ross, later joined the Project and was elected to the Steering Committee, along with Chairman Brooke Lewis, and Colonel Tom Greenwood.
The burgeoning group soon recognized the important role Washington and Lee University School of Law could play in helping the Lexington Principles Project influence the national legal dialogue in this area. W&L Law School now boasts one of the most impressive international law programs in the country, with faculty members like Frederic L. Kirgis, Johanna Bond, Susan Franck, Russell Miller, Hari Osofsky, & Speedy Rice. In addition, the Law School houses the new Transnational Law Institute, which placed considerable transnational legal resources at the group's disposal.
Professor Frederic Kirgis, a renowned international law professor and longstanding officer of the American Society of International Law, was asked to join the group despite his retirement. He graciously agreed and then spent many hours helping the group with international law issues.
A critical step forward came when Rod Smolla, Dean of the Washington and Lee University School of Law, generously offered the Law School's full support for the Project, and asked Professor David Alan Jordan to serve as its faculty liaison. Professor Jordan, a former student of Frederic Kirgis and Mark Drumbl, was later selected to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of the Lexington Principles after he developed the Transnational Incorporation Doctrine and an innovative conceptual framework around which to center the thrust of our calls for jurisprudential reform.
*The Lexington Principles Project is an independent international project on the rights of detainees hosted and supported by the School of Law and Washington and Lee University Institute for Honor. Its members hail from many different disciplines and institutions.