William C. Banks Publishes on “Hybrid Threats, Terrorism, and Resilience Planning”

Hybrid Threats, Terrorism, and Resilience Planning. International Centre for Counter-Terrorism Perspective (2019). (With K. Samuel.)

We live in an inter-connected, inter-dependent world, not only in digital spaces, but increasingly between the physical and digital worlds. While our inter-connectedness and the accompanying rapid technological change bring with them widespread societal benefits, they can also deepen existing vulnerabilities and create new ones, such as in relation to critical infrastructure interdependencies. These technology-rich and highly dynamic circumstances can be exploited by those with criminal and malicious intent, including terrorists, with potentially extensive and catastrophic consequences, as the 2017 WannaCry cyber-attack with global reach, which nearly brought the United Kingdom’s National Health Service to its knees, illustrated.

We will illustrate this ironic confluence of good news/bad news by focusing on hybrid threats posed by cyber technology to critical national infrastructure. Our op-ed begins by briefly examining the concept of hybrid threats, before examining how they are materialising in the cyber world. The discussion then turns to examining how best to counter hybrid threats to our Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). We propose the development of more dynamic, integrated and innovative resilience planning solutions beyond those that currently exist.

The Concept of Hybrid Threats

Hybrid threats posed by state and non-state actors are expected by many to increasingly challenge countries and institutions globally. In 2016, this recognition led to the creation of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), which recognises diverse and wide-ranging forms of terrorism as a potential source of hybrid threats. The Hybrid CoE has defined a hybrid threat in the following terms:

  • Coordinated and synchronised action, that deliberately targets democratic states and institutions systemic vulnerabilities, through a wide range of means;
  • The activities exploit the thresholds of detection and attribution as well as the different interfaces (war-peace, internal-external, local-state, national-international, friend-enemy);
  • The aim of the activity is to influence different forms of decision making at the local (regional), state, or institutional level to favour and/or gain the agent’s strategic goals while undermining and/or hurting the target.

As the broad parameters of this definition reveal, hybrid threats can take a multitude of diverse forms. They can pose many practical and legal challenges too, such as how to detect, investigate, and attribute them in order to identify and bring to account their perpetrators, whether state or non-state actors … MORE


William C. Banks Scholarship Included in Groundbreaking Disaster Risk Management Handbook

Disaster Risk HandbookProfessor Emeritus William C. Banks is among the authors included in a groundbreaking handbook for the emerging fields of disaster risk management and disaster risk reduction (DRR) law. The Cambridge Handbook of Disaster Risk Reduction and International Law (Cambridge, 2019) is edited by Katja L. H. Samuel, Marie Aronsson-Storrier, and Kirsten Nakjavani Bookmiller. Banks’ chapter—”Improving Disaster Risk Mitigation: Towards a ‘Multi-Hazard’ Approach to Terrorism”—is co-authored with Samuel and Daphné Richemond-Barak, of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel.

Yet the law sector itself remains relatively under-developed, including a paucity of supporting ‘DRR law’ scholarship and minimal cross-sectoral engagement.

The new handbook introduces concepts of DRR, especially DRR law; highlights the critical need for broader cross-sectoral engagement on DRR issues; looks at the multi-sectoral approaches of the Sendai Framework, especially between law, science, and technology; contributes to the development of DRR related law, policy, and practice; and informs law and policy makers of the growing importance of DRR law through comparative analysis of multiple regimes.

Write the co-editors in their introduction, “The number, intensity, and impact of diverse forms of ‘natural’ and ‘human-made’ disasters are increasing. In response, the international community has shifted its primary focus away from disaster response to prevention and improved preparedness.

“The current globally agreed upon roadmap is the ambitious Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, central to which is the better understanding of disaster risk management and mitigation. Sendai also urges innovative implementation, especially multi-sectoral and multi-hazard coherence.

“Yet the law sector itself remains relatively under-developed, including a paucity of supporting ‘DRR law’ scholarship and minimal cross-sectoral engagement. Commonly, this is attributable to limited understanding by other sectors about law’s dynamic potential as a tool of disaster risk mitigation, despite the availability of many risk-related norms across a broad spectrum of legal regimes.”

INSCT Video: Elections, Violence, and Apathy: Crisis in the Congo, with Jason Stearns

Jason Stearns is Director of the Congo Research Group at New York University and author of Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. He obtained his Ph.D. from Yale University and has served in various roles for Congolese and international NGOs and the United Nations.

This talk was part of the David F. Everett Postconflict Reconstruction Speaker Series.

Co-sponsors: Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and Maxwell African Scholars Union

New Battlefields/Old Laws 2018—When Disaster Hits: Threats, Preparedness, and Legal Gaps

New Battlefields/Old LawsThe 2018 edition of INSCT’s signature initiative New Battlefields/Old Laws will take place at the World Summit on Counterterrorism, to be held Sept. 3-6, 2018, at the Institute for Counter-terrorism (ICT), Herzliya, Israel.

Co-chaired by Professor Emeritus William C. Banks and Professor Daphné Richemond-Barak, Head of International Humanitarian Law Desk Law and Security Program, ICT, the theme of this year’s multi-disciplinary NBOL workshop—on September 5—is “When Disaster Hits: Threats, Preparedness, and Legal Gaps.”

The workshop will investigate multiple facets of law and policy responses during and after major natural and human disasters. Papers will address disaster governance, cyber disasters, responding to health epidemics and pandemics, and “disaster law,” or the analysis of gaps in national security and international law that disasters can expose.

ICT’s annual international summit is the largest and one of the most influential events in the field of counterterrorism. Bringing together academics, scholars, law enforcement officials, and decision-makers, this year the summit will convene around the theme of difficulties liberal democracies face in combatting terrorism, such as striking a balance between democratic values and security.

“Countering terrorism by developing solutions to these dilemmas is not just a strategy, but a true art. This year’s conference will delve into the ‘Art of Counter-Terrorism,'” the workshop organizers write. Five themes will help to highlight the challenges of combatting terrorism: Assessment and Response; Rationale and Rationality; Motivation and Capability; Terrorism and Democracy; and Recovery and Resilience.

Read more about the ICT workshop.


Corri Zoli Co-Authors Safety Science Article on “Terrorist Critical Infrastructures”

INSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli has published “Terrorist Critical Infrastructures, Organizational Capacity, and Security Risk” in the engineering journal Safety Science. This interdisciplinary article is co-authored with Zoli’s Syracuse University colleagues Professor Laura J. Steinberg of the School of Engineering and Computer Science and Professor Margaret Hermann of the Maxwell School, along with Martha Grabowski, an engineering professor at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY.

This essay addresses gaps between studies of terrorism and infrastructure resilience to explore “terrorist critical infrastructures” (TCIs) as one critically missing framework to understand the rise of terrorist political violence globally. This approach to global terrorism maximizes core perspectives common in resilience and safety research and uses comparative analyses from terrorism studies, systems engineering, and infrastructure protection.

The authors develop a topology of terrorist infrastructures, introduce the concepts of “enabling” and “coopted” TCIs, and contrast characteristics of TCIs with those of conventional infrastructures. They argue that the organizational intelligence that comes from aligning strategic goals with infrastructural capacity is critical to explaining the prevalence, durability, and resilience of many terrorist organizations (as well as their increasing use of violence).

“We can understand these emerging organizational forms by their design and development, often flat, mobile, and flexible ‘networks of networks’ themselves,” the authors explain.

Article Highlights
  • Analysis used a systems-based interdisciplinary approach to terrorism.
  • Informal, illicit non-state groups, such as terrorist organizations, build and design critical infrastructures to effect terrorist aims and goals, including targeting soft targets.
  • The types of TCIs can be categorized according to terrorist organizations’ strategic targeting priorities; interface with existing context-specific civilian infrastructure systems; and their need to design, build, and engineer new infrastructure systems particular to illicit organizations.
  • Such TCIs involve formal and informal, legitimate and illegitimate, and physical and virtual systems.
  • TCIs often interface with criminal networks and low-governance.
  • Results show the need for more research and a targeted, infrastructure based approaches to combating terrorism.\
  • Practical implications for governments and security sectors are discussed.


“Managing Expectations”: Keli Perrin Discusses the Federal Response to Hurricane Harvey with Business Insider

Trump and his administration receive high marks for initial response to Hurricane Harvey — but the real test is only just starting

(Business Insider | Sept. 2, 2017) Forecasters were near certain that Hurricane Harvey would be the most devastating storm to hit the continental US since Hurricane Katrina 12 years earlier.

Perrin … said the administration is doing a good job of both “managing expectations” and not making similar mistakes made by the Bush administration.

But even they could not have foreseen the level of rainfall that would blanket areas of southeast Texas — particularly around Houston. With rains in some areas exceeding 50 inches and flooding that put entire neighborhoods virtually underwater, the disaster will go down as one of the costliest in American history.

More than 40 people have been found dead as a result of the initial hurricane and subsequent flooding. At least 33,000 Texans are now spread throughout more than 230 shelters. Roughly 20,000 homes were damaged, and hundreds of thousands will, in all likelihood, seek disaster assistance of some kind.

For President Donald Trump, this disaster was the first “serious” crisis early in his administration, as conservative news aggregator Matt Drudge wrote ahead of the storm’s landing last week. It was a major question for the young administration: How would Trump and his officials respond to and handle Hurricane Harvey?

A week after Harvey’s destruction began, Trump and his team have generally received high remarks for their response …

… nd after his meeting with federal, state, and local leaders in a Corpus Christi fire station, Trump addressed a large crowd that had gathered outside, saying, “what a crowd, what a turnout.” He added that the storm was “historic, it’s epic, but I can tell you it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.”

Some bristled at the display. Politico’s Josh Dawsey noted that the trip didn’t include Trump meeting with “a single storm victim,” seeing “an inch of rain or” getting “near a flooded street.” But, the Politico reporter wrote that the trip “gave the optics-obsessed president some of the visuals he wanted.” And pool reporter David McSwane wrote suspiciously of the hundreds of Trump supporters who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to greet the president at the fire station, where Trump waved the Lone Star flag and mentioned the crowd size and turnout.

“The turnout of hundreds of Trump supporters is notable because few knew where Trump was actually going,” he tweeted. “Someone organized that.”

But Keli Perrin, a Syracuse University law professor whose expertise is in critical infrastructure and emergency response, told Business Insider that she thought Trump was “actually on script” in his responses.

“He does throw in some stuff like crowd counts or this is going to be the best response ever, because that’s what he does,” she said. “That’s his persona. But for the most part, if you watch his full clips, he’s saying the right stuff.”

Mackowiak said he “probably wouldn’t” have issued the pardon at the time Trump did, but he praised both Trump and the administration for their initial handling of the disaster.

“He is who he is,” Mackowiak said. “There’s a limit to sort of what he’s capable of doing” …

Perrin, who said she’s a “real fan of Administrator Long,” said the administration is doing a good job of both “managing expectations” and not making similar mistakes made by the Bush administration.

“Of course, the Trump administration is trying not to look like the Bush administration,” she said. “They’re showing up, [Trump] was there, he was doing what he was supposed to do. Corpus Christi instead of Houston, he was close but out of the way. It’s almost like they read what went wrong in Katrina and fixed it.”

What comes next for Trump is the push to get federal funding for the recovery and pass both an emergency package as soon as possible, with a more substantial one in the coming months …

To read the whole article, click here.

“It Will Take a Generation”: WAER Examines SAP’s Syrian Civil War Research & Postconflict Justice

War Crimes Evidence in Syria, SU Law Group has New Report on Government Violence Against Civilians

(WAER (Syracuse, NY) | May 1, 2017)  A project at Syracuse University’s Law School is monitoring potential war crimes in Syria.  The Syrian Accountability Project has a report out on some of the most violent and deadly incidents, allegedly carried out by the government against its own citizens. 

“We’ll get Assad eventually; there’ll be a knock at his door someday.”

Many of us followed in horror of the chemical attacks leveled at civilians in Syria last month.  But Zach Lucas, Executive Director of the Syrian Accountability Project, has been following such atrocities for months.  The group has a white paper out about finding six types of incidents against innocent civilians.

“From use of chemical weapons, use of barrel bombs, a nasty type of improvised explosive device dropped from helicopters, to indiscriminate shelling general, dragging war planes out every single day and just bombing neighborhoods.  We also found extra-judicial killings, attacks on hospitals and the aid convoys on September 19th (2016).”

They were investigating the siege of Aleppo and also found another tactic – not allowing civilians a way to leave.

“The way the Syrian government has done it for the past six and-a-half years, the way it’s been carried out has just been awful, to say the least.  There’s no distinguishing between a combatant on the ground and a lawful target, and just a child, for instance that’s just in their neighborhood trying to play.”

Lucas says their work can show investigators where to look for evidence and witnesses in preparation for a war crimes trial against Syrian Leader Bashar Al-Assad and others.  SU Law Professor and project leader David Crane is  confident justice will be served … if not so optimistic about the country’s future.

“We’ll get Assad eventually; there’ll be a knock at his door someday.  But the area around Syria, known as the Levant, it’s destroyed.  It will take a generation.  It is now a part of the world the U.N. is only going to be able to manage.  At this point it’s almost ungovernable” …

To read the full story, click here.


Preparing for Complex Conflicts

By Dr. Robert D. Lamb & Melissa R. Gregg1

(Re-published from US Institute of Peace Fragility Study Group Policy Brief No. 7 | October 2016) The United States and its partners have not been unambiguously successful in most of the conflicts they have been engaged in since 9/11. In some cases, conflicts that had seemed settled erupted again under different guises. Combatants that had appeared defeated emerged under different names. Partners that had seemed reliable turned out to have different agendas. Successful operations have rarely led to strategic success. In short, tactics, alliances, motives, and players shift so quickly now that existing analytic “conflict lenses” sometimes make today’s conflicts look more kaleidoscopic than focused – shift your perspective just a little and the whole picture seems to change.2

“We consider a conflict to be complex if it involves more than two sets of direct combatants, uncertain or unstable alliances between them, fragmentation within at least one of them, involvement by external supporters who themselves are global competitors, and opacity in the motivations and objectives of at least one major combatant group.”

In the face of this complexity, how should the U.S. government organize and position itself to protect its interests and contribute to a stable international order in the future? Some scholars and practitioners have suggested the answer lies in finding ways to be more adaptive and innovative – more like startups and venture capitalists than government bureaucracies.

But what does that mean in practice? What are the systemic challenges the United States would need to overcome to prepare adequately for conflicts that realistically are not likely to be susceptible to normal planning?

Conflicts as Complex Systems

This policy brief – based on a year of research, including a literature search, expert consultations, a focus group, and a simulation exercise3 – addresses these questions and recommends some experiments and investments that can be made early in the next administration to position U.S. institutions for the longer-term reforms that will be needed to engage more intelligently and strategically with complex conflicts (at all stages) in the future.

Evidence is accumulating that conflicts are increasing in complexity (even as they are arguably decreasing in number). Today’s wars tend to involve more uncertainty, more volatility, and more actors with domestic, regional, or international affiliations. Parties to conflict are increasingly likely to be highly fragmented, use interconnected social networks (proximate or distant), and engage in competitive alliances out of expediency or necessity, rather than ideological alignment, trust, or a desire for power sharing. Even after rates of violence fall, the instability of these alliances can increase the likelihood of conflict recurrence and disrupt the transition to peace. In complex wars, it can be unclear what winning might even look like.4

Fragility has a similar complexity. The “absence or breakdown of a social contract between people and their government,” as the Fragility Study Group defines the term,5 is generally reflected in a lack of consensus over the system of governance that different populations within a defined territory would consider legitimate. When a governance system suffers from “deficits of institutional capacity and political legitimacy that increase the risk of instability and violent conflict and sap the state of its resilience to disruptive shocks,”6 the result is that different political groupings find ways to fend for themselves – allying with other groups when convenient, competing with others for resources and influence, carving out their own safe spaces where possible, partnering with outside patrons when necessary, and communicating different narratives to different audiences to maximize whatever benefit can be achieved. In a sense, fragility is a complex conflict that has not yet turned violent.

“Conflict systems are like ecological, electrical, and biological systems. They absorb inputs that can change the status of the system and generate outputs.”

For the sake of this brief, we consider a conflict to be complex if it involves more than two sets of direct combatants, uncertain or unstable alliances between them, fragmentation within at least one of them, involvement by external supporters who themselves are global competitors, and opacity in the motivations and objectives of at least one major combatant group. Fragile environments are complex if, instead of combatants, politically significant population groups interact with similar degrees of uncertainty, instability, and opacity. More formally, we consider fragile and conflict environments to be systems, and complex ones to be complex systems.

Conflict systems are like ecological, electrical, and biological systems. They absorb inputs that can change the status of the system and generate outputs. In conflict systems, inputs can include weapons, money, recruits, knowledge, diplomatic cover, and other resources that come from outside the system. Status variables, which measure overall changes in the system, can include levels or types of violence, control of territory, changes in power and legitimacy, and other dynamics of concern. Outputs can be whichever status variable is of greatest interest – for example, which combatant controls the most territory, or how many civilians are being killed – or can include externalities such as refugee flows, the risk of uncontrolled disease outbreaks, or geopolitical tensions that spill over beyond the conflict.7

To understand complex systems, it helps to learn how different factors (variables) affect each other and how their interactions affect the outcomes of interest (i.e., status and outputs).8 In other words, it helps to understand the components of the system and the linkages between them. In conflicts, components can include combatants, legitimacy, finances, resentment, extremism, social networks, rumor, population subgroups, territory, and anything else that affects the conflict. The linkages between these components can be simple, as in a transfer of funds that increases the resources available to purchase weapons. Linkages can also be very complicated. Complications can include negative feedback loops (which counteract the effects of certain inputs), positive feedback loops (which exponentially amplify outcomes), multiple causality (in which one variable is affected by a lot of different variables in a lot of different ways), and delays between causes and effects.

Because of these complex internal dynamics, inputs can create cascades of effects (second- and third-order or higher) that make it extremely hard to predict what effects they ultimately will have. Large inputs can have no discernible effect. Small inputs can sometimes have very large effects. Multiple inputs can increase a system’s unpredictability exponentially. In short, anything one does in a complex conflict can have unexpected consequences – or none at all …

Read the full report here.

Bob Lamb is a visiting research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College and an adviser on strategy and policy through his consultancy, RD Lamb LLC. Melissa R. Gregg is a Ph.D. student in criminology at Simon Fraser University with a research focus on international criminal law and violence against women.

The Fragility Study Group (FSG)  is an independent, non-partisan, effort of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Center for a New American Security, and INSCT collaborator the United States Institute of Peace. INSCT Faculty Member David Crane is an FSG Senior Advisor. The chair report of the study group, U.S. Leadership and the Challenge of State Fragility, may be accessed here.

This brief is part of a series authored by scholars from the three institutions and others who advised the effort, that build on the chair report to discuss the implications of fragility on existing U.S. tools, strategic interests, and challenges. The complete list of policy briefs may be accessed here.


1 Bob Lamb and Melissa R. Gregg are advisers to the International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI), an applied-research and experiential training organization based in Washington, D.C., through which much of the research for this project was carried out. This policy brief is a preview of a longer monograph being prepared by the authors and others. The authors would like to thank Kevin Melton for his collaboration on this research as director of IPSI’s Kaleidoscopic Conflict Project.
2  David Crane, a lawyer and international prosecutor whose research is focusing on a potential war-crimes case against Bashar Assad, coined the term “kaleidoscopic conflict” to describe the complex war in Syria and the likely trajectory of warfare in the future. The authors are grateful to him for initiating the project through which this research was undertaken. 
3 References for evidence presented in this paper will be provided in the authors’ forthcoming monograph.
4 For example, the Syrian regime and the Islamic State group are fighting each other. The United States opposes both, so it supports, for example, Kurdish fighters, who also oppose both. But it also supports a regional power that opposes both the Islamic State group and the Kurds – and it is therefore only a slight exaggeration to argue that almost anything the United States does in the Syrian war can
end up both supporting and opposing its adversaries and opposing and supporting its partners.
5 William J. Burns, Michèle A. Flournoy, and Nancy E. Lindborg, “Fragility Study Group: U.S. Leadership and the Challenge of State Fragility” (United States Institute of Peace, Center for a New American Security, and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, September 2016).
6 Ibid.
7 Whether any particular variable is considered an output or a status depends mainly on what questions are being asked about the system and how it is being modeled. Status variables are usually called “state” variables by scholars, but status is used here because, among policymakers, “state” generally implies a political unit in the international system (e.g., “fragile states”) and the authors want to strongly encourage readers not to think of conflict systems as being coextensive with (political) state borders. A good introduction to complex systems in the context of conflicts is Giorgio Gallo, “Conflict Theory, Complexity and Systems Approach,” Systems Research
and Behavioral Science, 30 no. 2 (2013), 156–175. For a discussion of the “standard approach” to modeling complex systems, see James Lyneis and James Hines, “The Standard Method for System Dynamics Modeling,” Worcester Polytechnic Institute, class handout for SD554 Real World System Dynamics, Spring 2007.
8 System dynamics modeling, political economy analysis, control (or cybernetic) theory, and design thinking are all useful approaches to understanding complex systems and identifying paths through them to achieve some future objective.

Syrian Accountability Project to Reveal Groudbreaking Analysis of Rape in Syrian Conflict

Spotlight on Syria: The Gendered Perils of War and Forced Migration
March 24, 2016 | 12 pm ET – 4 pm ET
Strasser Legacy Room, 220 Eggers Hall, Maxwell School, Syracuse University

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura to Keynote Livestreaming Event

With peace talks anticipated to begin this week, on the fifth anniversary of the Syrian Civil War, the Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) at Syracuse University College of Law will release a groundbreaking report documenting and analyzing incidents of rape during the Syrian conflict.

Compiled using international legal standards—and with an eye toward future transitional justice for the victims—the white paper will be distributed to United Nations and other international legal organizations to support the transitional justice process for victims of rape during the Syrian conflict.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura will provide keynote remarks at the white paper release event “Spotlight on Syria: The Gendered Perils of War and Forced Migration,” to be held March 24, 2016, at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in partnership with SAP, Syracuse University College of Law, and the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications. The entire program will be live streamed (see URL in information box).

Remarks and the release of the white paper will be followed by an expert panel on gender crimes in conflict in Syria and the Levant and accompanied by curated multimedia presentations on the conflict.


12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Keynote

“International Law and Sexual Violence in the Syrian Conflict” by Zainab Hawa Bangura, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict

  • Introductions by David Crane, SU College of Law Professor of Practice; founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; SAP Project Leader
  • Q&A to Follow

2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: SAP White Paper Release

 “Looking Through the Window Darkly: Rape in Syria, 2011-2015” featuring analysis and documentation of 142 incidents of rape occurring from the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011 to 2015. It is the first document of its kind to not only highlight and analyze reported accounts of this horrific gender crime but also to apply international legal standards with an eye toward future transitional justice for the victims.

  • David Crane, SU Law 
  • Peter Levant, Executive Director, SAP; Juris Doctor Candidate, SU Law

2:30 p.m – 4 p.m.: Expert Panel

“Gendered Perils of War in Syria and the Levant”

Moderator: Catherine Bertini, Professor of Practice, SU Maxwell School; former Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program (1992 to 2002)

  • Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Under-Secretary-General
  • Lamis Abdelaaty, Assistant Professor of Political Science, SU Maxwell School 
  • Lynn Levey, Syrian Accountability Project; Legal Writing Professor, SU Law

In addition, attendees can experience a virtual reality, 3D journey out of Syria called Clouds over Sidra beginning throughout the event, beginning at 11:30 am ET.


Started at Syracuse University College of Law in 2011, the Syrian Accountability Project is an internationally recognized cooperative effort between activists, non-governmental organizations, students, and other interested parties to document war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of the Syrian Crisis. Now in its fifth phase, the project aims to produce non-partisan, high quality analysis of open source materials and to catalogue that information relative to applicable bodies of law; including, the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and Syrian Penal Law.


Zainab Bangura has more than 20 years of policy, diplomatic, and practical experience in the field of governance, conflict resolution, and reconciliation in Africa. She served most recently as Minister of Health and Sanitation for the Government of Sierra Leone, and was previously Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the second woman in Sierra Leone to occupy this position. She was also Chief Adviser and Spokesperson of the President on bilateral and international issues. Bangura has been instrumental in developing national programs on affordable health, advocating for the elimination of genital mutilation, managing the country’s Peace Building Commission and contributing to the multilateral and bilateral relations with the international community. She has deep experience engaging with State and non-State actors on issues relevant to sexual violence, including engaging with rebel groups. 


Professor David M. Crane was appointed a professor of practice at Syracuse University College of Law in the summer of 2006. From 2002-2005, Crane was the founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an international war crimes tribunal, appointed to that position by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Serving with the rank of Undersecretary General, Professor Crane’s mandate was to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international human rights committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone during the 1990’s. Among those he indicted for those horrific crimes was the President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, the first sitting African head of state in history to be held accountable. Professor Crane served over 30 years in the federal government of the United States. Appointed to the Senior Executive Service of the United States in 1997, Mr. Crane has held numerous key managerial positions during his three decades of public service, to include a, and Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s School.

“Fight the Disease, Not Just the Symptom” with Sarah Chayes Now Online

Sarah Chayes is a Senior Associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program and the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment. Formerly special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, she is an expert in South Asia policy, kleptocracy and anticorruption, and civil-military relations. She is working on correlations between acute public corruption and the rise of militant extremism.