One of the Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law’s signature projects, New Battlefields/Old Laws (NBOL) began with a 2007 symposium to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Hague Convention of 1907.
The project has since grown into an ongoing series of interdisciplinary workshops and publications that reexamine the application of centuries-old customs and laws of armed conflict in the age of asymmetric warfare.
It has become increasingly clear that a re-examination of the policies and laws for the conduct of armed conflict is required. Toward that end, SPL—working with the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel—has assembled international teams of scholars and practitioners to address the considerable challenges for the future of humanitarian law.
Recent conflicts underscore the shortcomings of international law and policy in responding to asymmetric warfare. The tendencies of terrorists or insurgent groups to operate within civilian communities present significant and unanticipated strategic and tactical challenges for victimized states and citizens.
Neither The Hague Rules, the customary laws of war, nor the post-1949 law of armed conflict and accompanying international humanitarian law, account for non-state groups waging prolonged, “fourth generation” campaigns of terrorism that leave the defending state with little choice but to respond in ways that inflict heavy civilian casualties. The result is that the defending state is often criticized for violating norms that do not accommodate the conflict being waged. At the same time, the defending state lacks adequate guidance in shaping the parameters and details of its response.
NBOL 2019—When Conflicts End & How? ISIS as a Case Study
The 2019 edition of New Battlefields/Old Laws took place at the World Summit on Counterterrorism, Sept. 9-12, 2019, at the Institute for Counter-terrorism (ICT), Herzliya, Israel.
Eighteen years have passed since brutal and deadly attacks on US soil on Sept. 11, 2001, launched a seemingly never-ending conflict, with violence spreading from Afghanistan to Iraq and Yemen.
ISIS’s emergence reignited not only active hostilities but also attacks causing countless casualties in Paris, Brussels, Tunis, and even in a village in Tajikistan. These conflicts involve violent non-state armed groups—first Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and al Qaeda offshoots, and ISIS of course—and those that the idea of a Caliphate inspired all over the world.
Although Guantanamo remains open and many experts believe that ISIS will strike again, questions related to the end of this never-ending war have begun to arise.
This workshop attempted to answer to the following questions: When conflicts end and how? In the context of never-ending wars, how do wars between states differ from wars against non-state actors, if at all? What comes next? The experts at this workshop will explore some of the security and legal issues that will dominate the academic and practitioner discourse going forward and will use ISIS as a case study.
The session was held in memory of the late Gerald Cramer.
- Chair: Dr. Daphné Richemond-Barak, Senior Researcher and Head, IHL Desk, ICT & Assistant Professor, Lauder School of Government, IDC Herzliya, Israel
- Scott Allan, Senior Strategist, Bureau of Counter-Terrorism, State Department, United States
- William C. Banks, Founding Director, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, Professor of Law and Public Administration and International Affairs, Syracuse University, and Member of the Professional Advisory Board, ICT, IDC Herzliya, United States
- Laurie Blank, Clinical Professor of Law & Director of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic, Emory University School of Law, United States
- Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Advisor to the President, RAND Corporation & Member of the Professional Advisory Board, ICT, IDC Herzliya, United States
- Assaf Moghadam, Director of Academic Affairs, ICT & Associate Professor and Director of the MA Program in Government, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC Herzliya, Israel
NBOL Scholarship: Critical Contributions to the Study of Asymmetric Warfare
William C. Banks, editor (Columbia University Press, 2011)Recognizing that many of today’s conflicts are low-intensity, asymmetrical wars fought between disparate military forces, Banks’ collection analyzes nonstate armed groups and irregular forces (such as terrorists, insurgent groups, paramilitaries, child soldiers, civilians participating in hostilities, and private military firms) and their challenge to international humanitarian law. Contributions by: Robert P. Barnidge Jr., Geoffrey S. Corn, David M. Crane, Hilly Moodrick-Even Khen, Renée de Nevers, Daniel Reisner, Daphné Richemond-Barak, Gregory Rose, Eric Talbot Jensen, and Corri Zoli.
William C. Banks, editor (Oxford University Press, 2013)In Counterinsurgency Law, William C. Banks and several distinguished contributors explore, from an interdisciplinary legal and policy perspective, the multiple challenges that counterinsurgency operations pose to the rule of international, humanitarian, human rights, criminal, and domestic laws.Contributions by: Robert M. Chesney, Geoffrey S. Corn, Evan J. Criddle, Boaz Ganor, Christopher Jenks, Peter Margulies, Gregory S. McNeal, Daphné Richemond-Barak, Eric Talbot Jensen, and Corri Zoli.
Previous NBOL Workshops
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