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SU Students Invited to National Security Crisis Law Invitational
To better prepare the next generation of national security and counterterrorism law and policy leaders for an actual global crisis, four SU students are preparing to join the simulation of a dramatic international catastrophe—and work with colleagues from across the United States to negotiate a peaceful and safe resolution.
The four students from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and College of Law—all with a keen interest in National Security Law—have been invited to the National Security Crisis Law Invitational to be held at Georgetown Law in Washington, D.C., April 5 and 6.
The SU team is among seven teams from top national security law schools taking part in this two-day event. They will join colleagues from American University, Georgetown Law, George Washington University, New York University, University of Texas and University of Virginia.
“This is an unparalleled opportunity for our students, one that will provide them crucial practical experience in the kind of national security challenge that will serve them well as they start their professional careers,” says Professor William C. Banks, director of Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, who will accompany the students as a faculty advisor. “I have every confidence these talented students will put Syracuse University in the best light, and I know they are excited to find out the nature of the crisis they must help resolve, in order to ‘save the world.’”
During the two-day national crisis simulation, each law school team becomes a federal agency or department. The SU team enters as the U.S. Department of State, with each student given a leadership role within this department. Playing U.S. secretary of state is Elizabeth Irwin (from the Maxwell School); the department’s top legal advisor is Thomas Caruso (College of Law); the coordinator of the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism is Christopher Elliot (College of Law); and the undersecretary of state for political affairs is Carolyn Abdenour (College of Law).
At the beginning of the simulation, the teams will be presented with a complex and dynamic international crisis that in various ways affects the security of the United States, likely some combination of a terrorist attack, an organized crime attack, a pandemic disease, a nuclear threat, a natural disaster or similar catastrophe.
Explains Abdenour, a third-year juris doctor candidate, “During the simulation, as we work with our colleagues to address the issues, we will be evaluated by practitioners in the field with experience in national security and crisis management.” Along the way, Professor Ruth Wedgewood—who serves on the U.S. Secretary of State’s Advisory Committees on International Law and teaches at Johns Hopkins University—will mentor the SU team.
The chance to work with distinguished professors and practitioners is just one of the benefits of the months of preparation that Abdenour and her teammates have put in. “Participating in the simulation is a great honor and a challenge,” Abdenour says. “It’s an exciting opportunity to test our national security law knowledge against a real-world scenario and demonstrate our decision-making skills in front of professionals. Plus, we have the pleasure of interacting with peers who share our passion for National Security Law. Our team is ready to represent Syracuse!”
However intense the legal and policy arguments mooted and however seemingly insurmountable the security crisis dropped in front of the students, Abdenour says the event organizers insist that by 3 p.m. on April 6 “we must have saved the world one way or another, before taking high tea and listening to a debriefing.”