CTLab is a direct outgrowth of legal and social science inquiries into the dynamics of security in the post-911 period. Official reportsdoctrinal revisions, and concept papers have redefined the spatial syntax of war, challenging social scientists to investigate and illuminate the textures, nuances, implications and consequences of variable geometries of violence. Scholars have grappled with the transformation, newness, or changing character of war, simultaneously striving to identify elements of continuity and change, and to redress emergent practical and conceptual imbalances in the way war is governed.

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Under the aegis of the Institute for National Security and Counter-Terrorism (INSCT) at the University of Syracuse, and the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary (IDC) Center Herzliya, a joint research initiative entitled New Battlefields, Old Laws: From the Hague Conventions to Asymmetric War conducted workshops and meetings to debate these complexities. New Battlefields, Old Laws (NB-OL) asks a basic question: "Are the traditional laws and norms of armed conflict sufficient guides in asymmetric war - where weaker combatants use strategies and tactics outside the rules to offset their military disadvantage?"

Initial discussions among NB-OL participants suggest that the Laws Of Armed Conflict, elements of which were first drafted over a century ago as a means of regulating conduct on linear battlefields, face a pandora’s box of apparently non-linear challenges. Conflicting political and security metaphors of spatial knowledge, simulation and control - "failed states", "human terrain", "terrorist sanctuaries" - have revealed deep divisions  over the perception and management of threat. The analytical and methodological levers needed  to pry open these intricate and contentious lines of inquiry are as many as their subjects are varied - looking to everything from the obligations of states in the international system, to the role of ethnographic intelligence, the limits of technological fixes, the challenges of holistic surveillance in democratic societies, and the ethics of scholarly engagement in security research.