Georgetown University Law Center named international justice and war crimes expert Anna Cave as its new executive director of the Center on National Security and the Law, after a monthslong search to fill the role.
Cave replaces Nadia Asancheyev (LAW ’06), who served six years as executive director of the center, a department of the Law Center that emphasizes scholarship and experiential learning initiatives for graduate students enrolled in the program. Cave’s appointment was announced Dec. 9.
In her new role, Cave will focus on promoting diversity in all facets of the center, she said.
“How do we ensure that there is diversity of expertise, diversity of backgrounds?” Cave said in an interview with The Hoya. “I think that’s an area where the field really needs to grow. It’s not a particularly diverse field, so the Center can help educate and mentor a diverse next generation of national security experts.”
Cave hopes to direct the center to look more closely at the real-world effects of national security policies, she said.
“It’s easy to focus on the nitty-gritty of the law or these abstract principles — so separation of powers, checks and balances, or what it means to fight terrorism,” Cave said. “But, what does that actually mean for the people who are affected by our national security bureaucracy, policy, legal framework? What is the human element?”
The Master of Laws Guide ranked the Law Center as the No. 1 program for “National Security / International Security Law” in the United States. As executive director of the center, Cave will help bolster the school’s reputation in the field, according to Executive Vice President and Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor.
“In light of the school’s position as a national leader in the field, she will have the opportunity to help to advance the conversation in ways that strengthen U.S. national security and rule of law,” Treanor wrote in an email to The Hoya.
National security and rule of law go hand in hand, according to Cave. By studying the intersection of the two fields, the center can help enact positive policy change, according to Cave.
“I hope that the center that we build can have an impact in the world and that we can take and translate the research, and identify some of the key problems and then really experiment and innovate possible solutions,” Cave said. “You really need to have a national security system and approaches and policies and laws that are undergirded by rule of law principles.”
Prior to joining the center, Cave worked in national security and foreign policy positions in the Department of State and U.S. government. Cave served as the director for Central Africa on the National Security Council and helped to advise, support and coordinate the U.S. executive branch’s response to security crises in Central Africa, she said.
Her time at the NSC taught her critical decision-making skills and gave her real-life experience, Cave said.
“You get to see all of the permutations of U.S. interests, U.S. power, U.S. values, when to restrain and hold back, how to balance competing interests,” Cave said. “That kind of glimpse behind the curtain of how the national security apparatus actually works was incredibly valuable.”
Cave most recently served as the founding director of the Ferencz International Justice Initiative, a division of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which works to prevent genocide and other crimes against humanity. Leading the initiative in its early stages also prepared Cave for her role as executive director of the center, she said.
“That was really creating something new, and launching something new — in a big institution,” Cave said. “So creating a new strategy, and then figuring out how to implement it, and understanding the comparative advantage that your institution has, the needs in the field that you’re working in, and the way in which those two things can come together to create something new.”
Cave’s diverse past experiences will serve her well as she joins the center, Treanor wrote.
“Anna brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise: she has experience in private practice, government, and the nonprofit sector, so she understands critical questions from a number of perspectives,” Treanor wrote.