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David M Crane

David M. Crane


Former Chief Prosecutor Special Court for Sierra Leone

        David M. Crane was appointed a professor of practice at Syracuse University College of Law in the summer of 2006.  Prior to that time he was a distinguished visiting professor for the 2005 academic year.  From 2002-2005 he 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, on 19 April 2002.  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 in 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 was the first American since Justice Robert Jackson and Telford Taylor at Nuremberg, in 1945, to be the Chief Prosecutor of an international war crimes tribunal. The Office of the Prosecutor was located with the Special Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  The Special Court for Sierra Leone was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

        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 Senior Inspector General, Department of Defense, Assistant General Counsel of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s School.  

        Professor Crane teaches international criminal law, international law, international humanitarian law, and national security law at the College of Law.  Additionally, he is a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, a joint venture with the Maxwell School of Public Citizenship at Syracuse University.  Professor Crane is on the leadership council of the American Bar Association’s International Law Section and served as the Chairman of the Section’s Blue Ribbon Panel on the International Criminal Court’s 2010 Review Session. He is also a Fellow of the American Bar Association. Additionally he sits on numerous boards of various humanitarian organizations. In 2006/7, he founded Impunity Watch (www.impunitywatch.net) a law review and public service blog. He currently leads the Syrian Accountability Project, an international effort that is developing a case against the Assad regime for international crimes stemming from the Syrian civil war.  To bring awareness to this conflict he helped found the “I am Syria” campaign (www.iamsyria.org). 

        Professor Crane travels the world speaking about various human rights issues.  He is widely published in the area of international humanitarian law, among other topics.

        Professor Crane holds a Juris Doctor degree from Syracuse University, a Masters of Arts Degree in African Studies and a Bachelor of General Studies in History, summa cum laude, from Ohio University.  For his service to humanity, Case Western Reserve University in Ohio awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in May 2008.

Various other awards include the Intelligence Community Gold Seal Medallion, the Department of Defense/DoDIG Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit. In September of 2006 Professor Crane was given a key to the City of Highland Park, Illinois (where he attended high school) in honor of his work in the field of human rights.

Professor Crane was a 2006 George Arents Pioneer Medal recipient from Syracuse University.  In 2005, he was awarded the Medal of Merit from Ohio University and the Distinguished Service Award from Syracuse University College of Law for his work in West Africa.  Prior to his departure from West Africa, Professor Crane was made an honorary Paramount Chief by the Civil Society Organizations of Sierra Leone. In 2014 Professor Crane was given the Eclipse Award by the Committee for Victims of Torture.

        Professor Crane is married to the former Judith A. Ponder of Columbus, Georgia and they reside in Waynesville, NC. They have two children, Katherine and David, who live and work with their families in North Carolina.