New Battlefields/Old Laws

One of INSCT’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, INSCT—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 2017 (10th Anniversary Workshop): Crisis Management in Times of Transition

At this year’s World Summit on Counter-Terrorism—Sept. 11-14, 2017, in Herzliya, Israel—INSCT will convene its 10th New Battlefields/Old Laws (NBOL) workshop.

The battlefield has grown geographically broader in recent years, with conflicts spilling over national boundaries. At the same time, the distinction between peace and war has eroded. Terrorism, in particular, features in both peace and war under quite similar forms. Peace time crises – be they national security crises, health emergencies, natural disasters or financial crises – increasingly trigger issues not that different from those encountered in times of war. This workshop looks at the reasons for this change, the extent of crisis management by various actors, and the crises’ local and global repercussions. Questions of authority, legitimacy, and decision-making in times of governmental transitions will be examined as part of this year’s workshop.

  • Co-Chair: Prof. William C. Banks, Founding Director, Institute for National Security & Counter Terrorism (INSCT) and Professor of Law & Public Administration and International Affairs, Syracuse University & Member of the Professional Advisory Board, ICT, IDC Herzliya, United States of America
  • Co-Chair: Dr. Daphné Richemond-Barak, Senior Researcher & Head, International Humanitarian Law Desk, ICT & Assistant Professor, Lauder School of Government, IDC Herzliya, Israel
  • Dr. Amnon Cavari, Assistant Professor, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy & Strategy, IDC Herzliya, Israel
  • Dr. Katja Samuel, Co-Chair, Disaster Law, American Society of International Law, United Kingdom
  • Dr. Dana Wolf, Senior Researcher, ICT, IDC Herzliya, Israel

NBOL Scholarship: Critical Contributions to the Study of Asymmetric Warfare

New Battlefields/Old Laws: Critical Debates from the Hague Convention to 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.
 Counterinsurgency Law Book Counterinsurgency Law: New Directions in Asymmetric Warfare
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

NBOL 2016: Legal Triggers of War on New Battlefields
NBOL 2015: The Threat of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and UN Security Council Resolution 2178
NBOL 2014: The Next Steps in Counterterrorism
NBOL 2013: The Operationalization of the Law
NBOL 2012: Dialogue Between Operational & Legal Experts on Counterterrorism
NBOL 2011: The Scope of the 21st Century Battlefield--Forecasting the Legal & Policy Landscape
NBOL 2010: Shaping a Legal Framework for Counterinsurgency
NBOL 2009: Converging Paradigms in Asymmetric Warfare
NBOL 2008: State Conflicts with Non-State Actors--Reconceptualizing Duties and Liabilities
NBOL 2007: Inaugural Event
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