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Professor of Law, University of Adelaide

Professor Dale Stephens CSM is a Captain in the Royal Australian Navy Reserve who spent more than 20 years as a permanent officer in the Navy before taking up his appointment at Adelaide Law School.

He has occupied numerous staff officer appointments throughout his career in the Australian Defence Force, including Fleet Legal Officer, Command Legal Officer (Naval Training Command), Chief Legal Officer Strategic Operations Command, Director of Operational and International Law, Deputy Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Military Law (a joint venture with Melbourne University Law School), Director Navy Legal and Director of the Military Law Centre.

He has deployed twice to East Timor (INTERFET & UNTAET) and twice to Iraq (Baghdad) in senior legal officer positions and has provided extensive advice to Government at the strategic level.

During his time in the ADF, Dr Stephens was involved in providing legal advice regarding numerous operational, disciplinary and administrative law issues, including fisheries, customs and immigration matters within Australia's maritime zones, combined operations with other military forces, UN Peace Operations, drafting Rules of Engagement, implementation of international treaties including the International Criminal Court Convention as well as numerous weapons reviews.

In the early 2000's Professor Stephens was part of the Australian delegation to UNESCO negotiating the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention. In the mid 2000's he taught at the U.S. Naval War College located in Newport, Rhode Island as a faculty member of the International Law Department.

In 2010 was seconded to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as a senior advisor on Afghanistan. In more recent years he has taught National Security Law as well as a number of military law subjects at the ANU College of Law.

Dr Stephens is Director of The University of Adelaide Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics (RUMLAE) and co-editor of the RUMLAE eJournal.

He is currently Head of the combined SA/NT Navy Legal Reserve Panel.

He is Director of the Adelaide Military Law Program and a member of the Ploughshares/McGill University/George Washington Univesity 'Space Security Index' Consortium.


  • –present
    Professor of Law, University of Adelaide


  • 2014 
    Harvard University, Doctor of Juridical Science