(WUNC | April 10, 2018) In the 1990s, officials founded five criminal tribunals to seek international justice: four temporary bodies in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cambodia, and the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. The first four were put in place to handle specific civil war crimes. Since then, the issue of international criminal justice has faded.
Host Frank Stasio talks to David Crane about why international justice is hard to achieve. He’s the founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He’s also the co-editor of “The Founders: Four Pioneering Individuals Who Launched The First Modern-Era International Criminal Tribunals” (Cambridge University Press/2018). Crane talks about geopolitical changes that have diminished the political will to prosecute international human rights violations. He also discusses his book and how the five criminal tribunals were founded …
Successor to Robert H. Jackson Speaks at Jackson Center Link
(The Post-Journal | April 3, 2018) Inside the Robert H. Jackson Center on Monday sat David Crane, the first American chief prosecutor in an international war crimes tribunal since Robert H. Jackson, himself, during the Nuremberg Trial. Crane, former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, indicted and later convicted Charles Taylor, president of Liberia, marking the first time a head of state was held accountable for war crimes.
“No one is above the law,” Crane said regarding the legacy of the Sierra Leone tribunal.
Crane’s mandate as chief prosecutor was to prosecute those who bore the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed during the decade-long Sierra Leone Civil War.
Crane also recently released a book titled “The Founders: Four Pioneering Individuals Who Launched The First Modern-Era International Criminal Tribunals.” The book, written primarily by Crane, features first-hand accounts of the creation of four separate tribunals that brought justice to places such as Rwanda, Cambodia, Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone.
Greg Peterson, director of the Robert H. Jackson Center, conducted the interview and noted that Crane created a lot of precedents regarding international war crime tribunals. Peterson described Crane’s new book, “The Founders,” as a detailed history of the “four foremost prosecutors since Jackson.”
The four prosecutors included in the book include Crane, Richard Goldstone, Robert Peit and Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
“He is in a high echelon of prosecutors,” Peterson said of Crane. “We’re thrilled that he’s here.”
Crane recently announced he would be retiring from his alma matter the Syracuse University College of Law where he taught as a professor of practice since 2006. While there, he taught international law, international humanitarian law, military law and national security law.
Prior to the public interview, a four minute video was played that showed segments from Taylor’s indictment.
“The path will be strewn with the bones of the dead, the moans of the mutilated, the cries of agony of the tortured echoing down to the valley of death,” Crane began his opening statement during the tribunal.
Crane said during the interview that he was personally attacked by other heads of state in Africa because of the indictment. After being indicted, Taylor was later sentenced to 50 years of imprisonment …
After teaching as a Professor of Practice at his alma mater since 2006, David M. Crane L’80 has announced that he will retire from the College of Law in August 2018. Crane taught international criminal law, international humanitarian law, military law, and national security law. As a faculty member of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, he developed interdisciplinary projects and courses with colleagues from across the University, including, most recently, a groundbreaking course on media and atrocities with Professor Ken Harper of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
At the College, Crane founded Impunity Watch, an online student-run law review and public service blog, and the Syrian Accountability Project (SAP), an internationally recognized effort among students, activists, journalists, and non-governmental organizations to document war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Syrian Civil War.
“It has been a pleasure teaching at my alma mater,” says Crane. “The hundreds—perhaps thousands—of students I have taught and placed in jobs or at other universities has inspired me and excited me in ways I never imagined. I hope I gave them a spark to go out in the world and make a difference.”
“For the past 12 years, David Crane has taught many hundreds of students about the paramount importance of the rule of law, the scourge of impunity, and that ordinary human beings—especially those who are the victims of atrocities visited upon them by the powerful—must always be the focus of justice,” says College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise. “I know that our students have been honored to work for Impunity Watch and the Syrian Accountability Project and that they were often spellbound in the classroom by David’s stories from his days in the military and working for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.”
Before Crane joined the College of Law faculty, from 2002 to 2005, he was the founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), appointed to that position by Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. Serving as a UN Undersecretary-General, Crane’s mandate was to prosecute those who bore the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war in the 1990s. Among those he indicted was Liberian President Charles Taylor, the first sitting African head of state to be held accountable in this way. Taylor was found guilty in April 2012 of all 11 charges levied by the SCSL, and he was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Crane’s UN appointment was preceded by more than 30 years in the US federal government. Crane held numerous positions, including Director of the Office of Intelligence Review; Assistant General Counsel of the Defense Intelligence Agency; an appointment to the US Senior Executive Service; and Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the US Army Judge Advocate General’s School. Among Crane’s most lasting legacies are the desk books he edited for publication by the JAG School: The Law of War, Operational Law, Counterintelligence Coordination, Legal Aspects of Future War, and Cases and Materials on Intelligence Law.
For the past six years, College of Law and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs students have assisted Crane’s efforts toward justice for the people of Syria. In particular, the student-led Syrian Accountability Project has documented humanitarian crimes committed by all sides during the Syrian Civil War. They have catalogued that information—relative to applicable bodies of international law, such as the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute, and Syrian Penal Law—in an extensive conflict narrative, crime base matrix, and in several white papers. The aim of SAP’s work is to guide a future prosecution team toward the administration of postconflict justice for Syrians. In 2016, the Syrian Accountability Project was praised by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) on the floor of the US House of Representatives for its work gathering evidence of atrocities.
Crane has received numerous accolades and awards for his service to international law and human rights, including honorary degrees from his alma mater Ohio University and from Case Western Reserve University. Crane has been awarded a Medal of Merit from Ohio University, a Distinguished Service Award from Syracuse University College of Law, and a George Arents Pioneer Medal from Syracuse University. Among Crane’s other awards are the Intelligence Community Gold Seal Medallion, the US Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, a Legion of Merit award from the US Armed Forces, and an Eclipse Award from the Center for Victims of Torture. Crane was made an honorary Paramount Chief by the Civil Society Organizations of Sierra Leone, and in 2006, he was given a key to the City of Highland Park, IL, where he attended high school.
Crane recently published The Founders, the complex and compelling story of his and his three fellow international prosecutors’ efforts to set up the world’s first international tribunals and special courts.
Crane’s experience investigating and prosecuting some of the world’s most appalling crimes and his expertise in humanitarian law has led to many media inquiries over the years by the world’s foremost news outlets. For instance, he has appeared as an expert on NBC’s The Wanted, a 2009 six-part series focusing on international justice; on the BBC’s documentary Mad Dog: Gadaffi’s Secret World in 2014; and in a lengthy 2016 profile in Der Spiegel in the wake of the release of the SAP white paper “Through a Window Darkly.”
The day after the release of the “Caesar Report” in 2014—first announced by The Guardian—worldwide media rushed to seek comment from Crane. “In the eyes of the media, David Crane L’80 is a wanted man,” explained SU News in its coverage. “[Crane] spent much of the day on Tuesday in a small TV studio located in Newhouse. From there, he spoke to reporters around the world … In one afternoon, he completed interviews with Sky News, CBC, the BBC, Al Jazeera, NPR, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. That was before taking a break at 5 p.m. to teach class.”
Never before have international chief prosecutors written in detail about the challenges they faced, but with the publication of The Founders—co-edited by David M. Crane, Professor of Practice, Syracuse University College of Law; Leila Sadat of Washington University School of Law, St Louis, MO; and Michael P. Scharf of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, OH—comes the complex story of four individuals who created the world’s first international tribunals and special courts.
A candid look at how the founding prosecutors sought justice for millions of victims, the backdrop to these tales are four of the most appalling conflicts of modern times: the Balkan wars in the former Yugoslavia (1991-2001), which included the Bosnian genocide and led to hundreds of thousands of casualties and displaced peoples; the 1994 mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority government; the Cambodian genocide (1975-1979), perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge; and crimes against humanity committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002). The crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during these conflicts spurred the creation of international tribunals designed to bring the perpetrators of unimaginable atrocities to justice.
When Richard Goldstone, David M. Crane, Robert Petit, and Luis Moreno-Ocampo received their orders from the international community, each set out on a quest to build unique postconflict justice mechanisms and launch their first prosecutions. South African jurist Goldstone founded the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which indicted 161 individuals between 1997 and 2004. Crane was the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2002 until 2005, indicting, among others, then-President of Liberia Charles Taylor for his role in crimes committed against Sierra Leoneans. (Incidentally, Crane was the first American to be named the chief prosecutor of an international war crimes tribunal since Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945.)The founder of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia was Canadian Robert Petit, who led the investigation and prosecution of five of the senior-most leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Lastly, Argentinian lawyer Luis Moreno-Ocampo is most famous for becoming the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. During his tenure, which began in 2003, Moreno-Ocampo opened investigations into crimes committed in Burundi, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Uganda, and Georgia.
“As we worked on this book it occurred to me the extraordinary professional and personal risk we took in establishing these ground-breaking justice mechanisms. We all had successful careers when we literally received ‘the call’ asking us to stop our life trajectory and to take on a task with absolutely no certainty of success,” says Crane, who continues to work on humanitarian and atrocity law issues at Syracuse University College of Law, including with the student-run Syrian Accountability Project. “We were in unchartered waters, yet we were drawn to the possibility of bringing justice to victims of horrific acts. This we did, and we took up the flaming sword of justice. It was an honor and a privilege to be asked to found these international courts.”
With no blueprint and little precedent, each prosecutor became a pathfinder. The Founders offers behind-the-scenes, first-hand stories of these historic journeys, the challenges the prosecutors faced, the obstacles they overcame, and the successes they achieved. Contributions are made by the founders themselves, as well as former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Hans Corell, Leila Nadya Sadat, Michael Scharf, William Schabas, and David Scheffer.
Uncovering and communicating the truths about human conflict, human suffering, and human rights violations is a complicated but vitally important task that often falls to those who write the “first rough draft of history”—that is, journalists operating on the front lines of conflict zones or under cover.
“These students will become young professionals who are trained to seek and present information on atrocities, genocide, disaster.”
Training communicators to make sense of atrocity and humanitarian disaster was the motivation behind Media & Atrocities, an interdisciplinary course offered for the first time this semester at Syracuse University. The course was co-taught by David Crane, Professor of Practice at the Syracuse University College of Law and member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, and Ken Harper, Associate Professor of Multimedia Photography and Design at the Newhouse School and director of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement.
The course examines the critical roles that law, policy, and communications play in ensuring truth-telling and securing justice for victims of atrocity, often by providing international law organizations with the raw information they require to bring humanitarian law violators to justice. Harper says he and Crane believe it’s the first university course of its kind.
“These students will become young professionals who are trained to seek and present information on atrocities, genocide, disaster … basically, making the unthinkable understandable,” says Harper.
Special guests—including Ploughshares Fund president Joseph Cirincione, CNN senior UN correspondent Richard Roth, and Physicians for Human Rights researcher Christine Mehta ’11—participated in class discussions via Skype.
Course content was constantly shifting, Harper says, “adapting to the reality the world presents.”
Students in the course included both undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of programs across campus, such as international relations, broadcast and digital journalism, public affairs, photography, and law. They began the semester by examining the meaning and history of atrocity, reviewing legal developments over the past century, and learning about the modern international criminal law system.
Most of the semester was spent building a mock postconflict justice tribunal for Syria. Students chose various roles—such as prosecutor, journalist, public relations officer, or activist—and carried out a series of practical exercises in preparation for the final exercise, held on the last day of class: a press conference called by the mock tribunal’s chief prosecutor (played by Crane) announcing an indictment against Syrian President Bhashr Hafez Al-Assad.
Students also set up a public relations office; organized a PR plan; staged a news broadcast; and developed a coordination plan for NGOs working in Syria, as well as a model for the organizations to work together into the future.
Zach Krahmer, who is earning a master’s degree in photography from the Newhouse School and an executive master’s degree in international relations from the Maxwell School, says he chose to enroll in the class because he is interested in conflict resolution and has worked with communities that have experienced trauma. “I wanted to think critically about the way we produce and consume media that involves atrocities, and the responsibility that implies,” he says.
He notes a particular assignment that had him and his classmates explore the ways social media have been used in various campaigns, with the resulting presentations touching on everything from the Colombian plebiscite to Buddhist extremist groups in Myanmar to Assad. “I was surprised by the innumerable ways that perceptions of events had been manipulated by tactful use of media,” he says.
Krahmer, along with fellow students Katie Conti and Maggie Mabie ’16, acted as Crane’s media team for the mock tribunal. They staged the public release of an indictment against a sitting head of state; wrote, edited and delivered a press release; and crafted the chief prosecutor’s press briefing. “It was valuable to experience the deliberation that goes into crafting public messages such as these,” he says. Mabie, who earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the Newhouse School and is now a joint J.D./M.P.A. student in the College of Law and the Maxwell School, says the final exercise was one of the most powerful parts of the class. “Everyone treated the simulation as if it were real.”
Following the class, Krahmer says, “I have a greater appreciation for the way media can be leveraged by different actors to achieve their goals.”
Crane knows intimately how important good journalism and good public relations are to the success of postconflict justice. As the founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone—an international war crimes tribunal set up after a devastating civil war—Crane held frequent press conferences and town hall meetings with ordinary citizens seeking justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity, helping them to engage with a lengthy and esoteric process and to accept its findings.
Today, Crane and his law students in the College of Law’s Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) rely on ground reports from reporters, photojournalists, and others in the field. SAP is an internationally recognized, cooperative effort to document war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Syrian Civil War. The students log reports of crimes in their “Crime Matrix,” which is filed with international clients such as the United Nations and International Criminal Court. The intent is that the Crime Matrix will help form the basis of a prosecution of those most responsible for humanitarian crimes after the conflict ends.
Crane and Harper have collaborated on several recent SAP projects, including the event Running for Cover and the white papers “Looking Through the Window Darkly”; “Covered in Dust, Veiled by Shadows”; “Idlib Left Breathless”; and “Report on the Yazidi Genocide.”
“In a conflict zone, the free press is often another victim of tyrants and unscrupulous warriors, and journalists must do their work in extremely dangerous conditions. Certainly, Ken and I know first-hand the difficulties reporters face when documenting human suffering, and the Syrian Accountability Project has recorded many crimes against journalists during that conflict,” says Crane. “Nevertheless, throughout the world there are brave reporters who risk their lives, not only filing reports so the world can witness atrocity but also acting as advocates for those who have no voice. In this course, Ken and I worked together from different disciplines to instill a sense of the responsibility communicators in war zones have, how their work can bring hope and eventually justice to the afflicted, and the importance of professionalism in extreme conditions.”
“The United States has yet to turn the page on the dark chapter in our history when illegal detention and torture was carried out on suspects.”
The new findings, produced in partnership with The Rendition Project, reveal that nearly 30% of all acknowledged CIA black-site prisoners –34 individuals — rendered from 2001-2006 were transported on planes that originated in North Carolina. The Senate torture report has detailed the abuse detainees were subject to at these CIA sites.
Aero Contractors, founded in 1979 and headquartered at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, NC, operated a Gulfstream V jet nicknamed the “Guantanamo Express” to transport dozens of prisoners to black site prisons and proxy countries where many were subjected to torture, including waterboarding, painful stress positions and prolonged sleep deprivation, in their interrogations following 9/11. Aero also operated a Boeing business jet from a hangar it built at the Global TransPark, a state development project in Kinston, North Carolina.
The role of Aero Contractors and how North Carolina’s tax dollars, aviation infrastructure, and other public resources may have been used to directly or indirectly support the CIA’s rendition and torture program are the primary focus of NCCIT’s investigation. The public hearings held this week served as an opportunity for international experts, witnesses, and participants in the program to provide testimony to the Commission.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was wrongfully accused of involvement in 9/11, appeared before the commission remotely by video and told the story of how he was transported on an Aero-operated flight which originated in North Carolina, brutally tortured, and detained at Guantanamo for more than 14 years. Slahi stated, “I am personally inspired to see citizens of North Carolina organize to demand accountability especially in an environment where the use of torture is still openly advocated.”
Although many of the details about the torture program remain classified, Dr. Sam Raphael, co-founder of The Rendition Project, has managed to uncover significant new findings regarding the role of North Carolina’s aviation infrastructure. Raphael says that “Aero Contractors, based in the state, operated two aircraft which played a central role in the CIA’s torture program, rendering at least 34 individuals to secret detention at CIA black sites, and at least 15 others to foreign custody, for interrogation and torture – including rape, genital mutilation, water torture, and electro-torture. Horrific details of the treatment of prisoners held by the CIA continue to emerge, and North Carolina’s public airports are now known to have been implicated in many more of these cases than previously understood. Now is the time for full accountability and justice.”
Catherine Read, Executive Director of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, stated, “No one has been held accountable for the heinous human rights violations committed in our country’s name and whose consequences continue to be felt. On the contrary, many of the key individuals involved in designing and executing the torture program continue to be given appointments within the federal government. NCCIT seeks to do the job our government has refused to do by investigating the links between the U.S. torture program and NC tax dollars and state resources that may have been used directly or indirectly to support the supply chain of torture and seek transparency and accountability.”
David Crane, NCCIT Commissioner and international chief war crimes prosecutor, said, “The United States has yet to turn the page on the dark chapter in our history when illegal detention and torture was carried out on suspects. The work of NCCIT serves as a unique and innovative model of citizen-driven accountability. Only with transparency can the public engage in an informed discussion of how to keep abuses like these from occurring again using our soil and tax dollars.”
The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture is continuing to investigate following the public hearing and will issue a report in 2018 with findings and recommendations.
“CIA rendition flights from rustic North Carolina called to account by citizens” (The Guardian | Jan. 17, 2018) … Seven years later, Cowger sat in the front row of a makeshift hearing room in the Raleigh Convention Center as 11 volunteer commissioners of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture “upped the ante”, as she put it, on that pledge. Over the course of two days, this “citizen-led truth seeking commission” called 20 witnesses to testify on the damage done by Aero’s rendition operations …
“David Crane, a former intelligence officer and federal prosecutor, claims 9/11 pushed the U.S. into the dark, slippery shadows of interrogation. ‘The United States did not torture individuals until after 9/11. It was against policy, and it just wasn’t the way we did business,’ Crane said.”
Crimes committed against civilians during war can be especially heinous, but when those crimes are committed with planned intent to destroy an ethnic or religious community, international law applies the unique label of “genocide.” It is not a charge used lightly by the international community, although in recent times it has been applied to crimes committed during the Bosnian War (1992-1995) and Rwandan Civil War (1994).
“Narratives about sexual violence as a war crime are difficult to collect, and whole villages have disappeared, so those people cannot tell their stories.”
Now, a white paper published by the Syracuse University College of Law-based Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) asserts that war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2014 against the Yazidi community by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also should be considered genocide. The report documents crimes perpetrated against the Yazidi community and calls on the international community to take “proper care of the living proof” of the Yazidi genocide and to begin the “strategic preservation” of forensic evidence that could be used in an international court.
As with past SAP special reports, the “Report on the Yazidi Genocide: Mapping Atrocity in Iraq and Syria” draws on the project’s six-year-long effort to document war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides during the Syrian Civil War and associated conflicts. Working with open-source materials from available media and contacts within the region, SAP students are responsible for maintaining the project’s two main deliverables, the Conflict Narrative and the Crime Base Matrix. The former is a legally relevant historical narrative of the conflict, while the matrix’s intent is to provide case facts of representative crimes (as well as the relevant international or national legal standard for each crime) to guide a future prosecution team. In this way, SAP both advocates on behalf of victims and provides legal analysis to aid in the eventual administration of postconflict justice.
The “Report on the Yazidi Genocide” has been sent to SAP’s international clients, including the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the US Congress, and leading human rights organizations. The report also joins related documents requested of SAP by London-based law firm Doughty Street Chambers and barrister Amal Clooney, who acts as legal counsel to Yazidi victims of ISIS’ crimes and to Yazda, a non-governmental organization that supports the Yazidi community.
“The Syrian Accountability Project has become a relied-upon legal investigatory tool for the delivery of justice for the people of Syria and the Levant,” says Syracuse University College of Law Professor of Practice David M. Crane, who supervises the project. “The capacity of a College of Law student with a focused, properly supervised plan is unlimited.”
The Yazidis—an ethno-religious group of between 500,000 and 1.2 million people living primarily in Northern Iraq—are Kurdish-speaking and follow their own syncretic religion that combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The “Report on the Yazidi Genocide” alleges that, beginning in summer 2014, the group was targeted by ISIS and its campaign to “purify” the region of non-Islamist influences. The report details what it calls “grim incidences” of “incomparable brutality” during this campaign. More than 2,800 Yazidis were killed in this short time; 4,600 community members were abducted; 1,950 children were victimized; and towns and villages were blockaded or emptied of their residents. Women were kidnapped, raped, forced to abort fetuses, and sold into sexual slavery, while in a particularly abhorrent episode in August 2014, many children died of exposure on Mount Sinjar, where up to 50,000 Yazidis were seeking refuge.
“This has been a harder project to track than crimes committed in Syria during the civil war,” says SAP Executive Director and third-year law student Joseph Railey. “Narratives about sexual violence as a war crime are difficult to collect, and whole villages have disappeared, so those people cannot tell their stories. Nevertheless, this white paper helps clarify for our clients what kinds of information the Syrian Accountability Project has recorded beyond the case facts stemming specifically from the Syrian Civil War.”
While the report cross-references individual representative crimes with the articles of the Geneva Conventions, Rome Statute, and/or Iraqi Penal Code that they violate, it is the systematic nature of the crimes, along with ISIS’ stated intent to convert Yazidis to Islam, that raises the atrocities collectively to genocide. “The stories underlying these crimes provide the evidentiary support necessary to demonstrate that ISIS executed a systemic plan to destroy, in whole or in part, the Yazidi people,” the report states. “ISIS soldiers regularly demonstrated a specific intent to destroy the Yazidi people through their ideology and unabashed assertions for eliminating the Yazidi community.”
The report recognizes that many of the circumstantial evidence and news reports that SAP has collected are not legally sufficient to support a declaration of genocide, but it hopes that publishing these narratives will spur the international community to make an effort to preserve physical evidence of crimes. “Bringing ISIS to justice for genocide against the Yazidi community, at the domestic or the international level, will depend on the strategic preservation of forensic evidence,” the report concludes.
“What we are asking is that more recording of actual criminal evidence be done by the international community,” asserts Railey. “We are essentially saying, what happened was horrific, yet few people are talking about it. So we want to help draw people’s attention to the Yazidi situation and start a dialogue about what can be done.”
27th ANNUAL REVIEW OF THE FIELD OF NATIONAL SECURITY LAW Link
NOV. 16-17, 2017 | Capital Hilton | 1001 16th St. NW, Washington, DC
Presented by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security
This premier conference focuses on vital national security law topics including the Law of Armed Conflict, The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, National Security Challenges on the World’s Oceans, Artificial Intelligence, Future Issues in National Security Law, Cybersecurity, National Security in Private Practice, Ethics for National Security Lawyers, and other current issues.
As a Director of The Robert H. Jackson Center, located in Jamestown, NY, INSCT Faculty Member David Crane, Founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, was on hand to open the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues on Aug. 27, 2017, at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York. The annual event, now in its 11th year, gathers current and former international war crimes tribunal prosecutors, renowned academicians, and law experts to speak on current issues in international criminal law.
The theme of this year’s Dialogues is “Changing Times: New Opportunities for International Justice and Accountability.”
The event opened with the conferring of The Joshua Heintz Award for Humanitarian Achievement, bestowed on Zainab Hawa Bangura in recognition of her distinguished service to mankind and her achievement in the field of international justice. As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict from June 2012 to April 2017, Bangura worked—and continues to work—in the pursuit of justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, both in her native Sierra Leone and around the world.
University at Buffalo School of Law Dean Aviva Abramovsky—a former faculty member at Syracuse University College of Law—accepted the award on behalf of Bangura, who was not able to travel due to a recent humanitarian disaster in her native country.
A second keynote event was a first-time group interview with Andrew Cayley, Robert Petit, and Nick Koumijian, former and current chief international co-prosecutors for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The ECCC—referred to as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal—was established by the UN and the Cambodian government to bring to trial those responsible for atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge regime, during which an estimated 1.7 million people were killed.
The Dialogs conclude on August 28 and 29 with public seminars and lectures held on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution.
The Robert H. Jackson Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty under law through the examination of the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, Chief US Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.
The culmination of the IHL Dialogues was the issuance of the 10th Chautauqua Declaration. The ceremony was moderated by James Silkenat, representing the American Bar Association. The Declarationwas executed by representatives of all the International Criminal Tribunals, including Professor David M. Crane.
(Re-published from The Jurist | Aug. 11, 2017) Tyrants need a war. Looking back over the past hundred years one finds that tyrants come to power in conflict and remains in power largely due to conflict. It centers the populace, distracting them from other societal challenges to include their civil liberties.
Historically these conflicts created by a tyrant, dictator or insecure leader rarely succeed. The immediate result may be a distraction, but in the long term that nation, and its leader, end up weakened and in some cases worse off than they were before the conflict.
Politically weak or insecure leaders also need a distraction. I call those distractions boogeymen–nations, a peoples, or culture that the leader perceives to be a threat to the national security. This boogeyman also distracts from the political challenges both real and imagined that leader faces. Hitler had the Jews; Stalin capitalism; the Ayatollah the “Great Satin,” and Assad “terrorists” by way of a few examples.
Dictators and other leaders need a populace that is afraid. Fear is a powerful psychological tool to govern with and leaders use it for various reasons. A populace that is afraid of “something” looks to its leader for security and a solution. This is where the shadow of a boogeyman is useful. Fear can bring a society together in common cause.
Historically these conflicts created by a tyrant, dictator or insecure leader rarely succeed. The immediate result may be a distraction, but in the long term that nation, and its leader, end up weakened and in some cases worse off than they were before the conflict. Various circumstances intervene that were unintended consequences. History shows that these unintended consequences rarely benefit a leader.
Only the citizens of that country suffer those consequences. Simply put some of their loved ones do not come home. Tens of thousands perish their nation weakened politically and economically by the conflict. The nation itself loses stature internationally. Weakened trade through sanctions and other action only bring more unrest and insecurity.
The result is a country in worse shape than before the conflict. It all blows up in the tyrant’s face, with more unrest and division a result. In this information age, conflict is bad for global trade and business, unlike the industrial age where conflict was good for business. The world suffers from this type of threat and conflict as well.
As our President, politically weak, deeply insecure and challenged on all fronts looks for a distraction and a boogeyman, he conveniently has been handed one in the guise of Kim Jong-un and North Korea. From the President’s point of view, he has a “twofer,” a threat worthy of a conflict and a boogeyman. To maintain his political relevancy (and to silence whatever demons whisper to him) a looming crisis with nuclear implications is just what the doctor ordered. Words such as “fire and fury” ring true to him.
Suddenly the Russia scandal is off the front page. No one is talking about collusion, conspiracy, perjury or obstruction of justice. Attention is diverted across the Pacific Ocean to a hermit kingdom led by a crafty leader who uses just this type of tension to maintain his own power.
Kim Jong-un is a dictator, he needs a looming conflict, and he needs that boogeyman, as well, to distract his citizenry away from daily famine towards an impending attack by their boogeyman, the United States. The President has handed him politically a reason to lead his nation and consolidate power on a silver platter.
We have an insecure and an unstable leader in our President now in a possible “dance of death” with a brutal tyrant who is “crazy like a fox” …