Respecting Military Law Conference

Dates: 12 & 13 March

Where: University House, Woodward, Melbourne Law School, Level 10, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053

The purpose of the conference was for academics, researchers, and practitioners to share their thoughts about the legal principles, rules and standards applicable in enhancing respect for military law. The conference aimed to provide attendees with an opportunity to share best practice and understandings of how law and policy may be better used in developing and applying military law.

Speakers included:
Sir Adam Roberts KCMG FBA Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford R.
Scott Adams Major US Air Force Exchange Officer to Australian Defence Force
Alexander Bellamy Professor, Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at The University of Queensland
Krisna Bovornratanaraks General, Royal Thai Armed Forces 
Alison Duxbury Professor of Law, Melbourne Law School
Carla Ferstman Senior Lecturer, University of Essex
Gloria Gaggioli Professor of Law, University of Geneva
Emanuela-Chiara Gillard Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict
Katarina Grenfell Murray Chambers, Adelaide
James Hill Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army, Judge Advocate General, South Korea
Eric Talbot Jensen Professor of Law, Brigham Young University
Jann Kleffner Professor of International Law, Swedish Defence University
Inbar Levy Lecturer, Melbourne Law School
Rain Liivoja Associate Professor of Law, TC Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland
Marc Linning Senior Protection Advisor, Centre for Civilians in Conflict
William McDermott Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)
Aziz Mohammed Brigadier-General, Deputy Commander Fiji Armed Forces
Cameron Moore Associate Professor of Law, University of New England
Anne Quintin Head of Advisory Service, International Committee of the Red Cross
Christoph Sperfeldt Senior Research Fellow at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness and the Academic Convenor of the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative
Darren Stewart Brigadier, Head Operations Law, Army Legal Services, United Kingdom

APCML Sir Ninian Stephen Visiting Scholars 2019

In 2019 the APCML was fortunate to host two Sir Ninian Stephen visiting scholars. The first scholar was Sir Adam Roberts KCMG FBA Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford. Sir Roberts arrived at the APCML in March and was the opening keynote at the Respecting Military Law Conference and his public lecture Foundational Myths in the Laws of War: The 1863 Lieber Code, and the 1864 Geneva Convention closed the conference.

Following Sir Roberts the APCML hosted Sir Christopher Greenwood, GBE, CMG, QC in May. Like Sir Roberts Sir Greenwood delivered a public lecture at Melbourne Law School, International Law: Art, Science or Alchemy? Following his lecture, he travelled to Canberra for a seminar with members of the ADF and DFAT. Sir Greenwood also engaged with MLS staff and students through key meetings and a Q & A lunchtime seminar with students.

The visiting scholar program was established in 2003 in honour of the Foundation Patron of the APCML, the Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE. The purpose of the program is to bring a leading scholar in the field of military law to the Centre every year to interact with the APCML’s military and academic nodes, as well as Defence more broadly.

Sir Ninian Stephen Public Lecture March 2019

Foundational Myths in the Laws of War: The 1863 Lieber Code, and the 1864 Geneva Convention

Sir Adam Roberts KCMG FBA Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford

Date: Wednesday 13 March
Where: Melbourne Law School, Theatre G08, 185 Pelham St, Carlton, VIC 3053

Sir Adam Roberts is Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for International Studies in Oxford University’s Department of Politics and International Relations. He is also Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, and Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He was President of the British Academy (2009-13). He is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics & Political Science (1997-), of St Antony’s College Oxford (2006-), and of the University of Cumbria (2014-). He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by King’s College London (2010), Aberdeen University (2012), Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo (2012), and Bath University (2014). He is a Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2011-), and a Member of the American Philosophical Society (2013-). He was a member of the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London (2002-08); member of the UK Defence Academy Advisory Board (2003-15); and member, Board of Advisers of the Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare, at the United States Military Academy, West Point, September 2016–.

Sir Christopher Greenwood, GBE, CMG, QC visited Melbourne Law School as the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law 2019 Sir Ninian Stephen Scholar. The visiting scholar program was established in 2003 in honour of the Foundation Patron of the APCML, the Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE. The purpose of the program is to bring a leading scholar in the field of military law to the Centre every year to interact with the APCML’s military and academic nodes, as well as Defence more broadly.

Sir Ninian Stephen Public Lecture May 2019

International Law: Art, Science or Alchemy?

Sir Christopher Greenwood, GBE, CMG, QC

Date: Tuesday 21 May
Where: Melbourne Law School, Theatre G08, 185 Pelham St, Carlton, VIC 3053

International lawyers frequently think of their subject as a science in which objectively ascertainable rules are identified and applied with scientific precision but how often is that actually the case?  Is the law really more a matter of art, in which the skills of the advocate, the judge or the commentator are used to mask processes which are far less scientific than they appear?  Is it in fact more alchemy than real science? This lecture considered these questions in the context of different areas of international law, including maritime boundary delimitation and international humanitarian law, and from the perspectives of different actors in international law: the judge, the advocate, the professor.

Since March 2018, Christopher Greenwood has been a Judge of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal and an international arbitrator.  Prior to his appointment to the Tribunal, he was a Judge of the International Court of Justice from 2009 to February 2018. Before his election to the Court, he was Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and a practising barrister who regularly argued cases about international law before international and English courts.

Born in 1955, he was educated at Raeburn Park School, Singapore, Wellingborough School and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he obtained degrees in Law and International Law with first class honours and was elected a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1978. He taught at Cambridge for nearly twenty years before being appointed to a Chair of International Law at the London School of Economics in 1996.

His publications include over 120 volumes of the International Law Reports (including some 80 volumes as Joint Editor with the late Sir Elihu Lauterpacht QC), a collection of essays – Essays on War in International Law (2006) – and numerous articles. He is currently working on a tenth edition of Oppenheim’s International Law.  Christopher Greenwood was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1999, made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for services to public international law in 2002 and knighted in 2009.  In June 2018 he was appointed Knight Grand Cross (GBE) for services to international justice.  He is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College and of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law and an associate of the Institut de droit international.

Myanmar: when will the transition begin?

Professor Chris Sidoti

Date: Tuesday 4 June
Where: Melbourne Law School

Myanmar is said to have begun its transition from a military dictatorship to democracy following the adoption of a new constitution in 2008. But do events since then justify the view that a democratic transition is underway?

On 24 March 2017, in response to allegations of massive human rights violations by Burmese military and security forces, the UN Human Rights Council formed an independent fact finding missions to establish the facts and circumstances in Myanmar. The investigation encompassed allegations of arbitrary detention, torture and inhumane treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property. On 18 September 2018, the Fact Finding Mission released its full report. On 14 March 2019, it announced an initiative for new investigations.

Chris Sidoti discussed Myanmar’s transition in the context of his work as a member of United Nations Human Rights Council’s Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar.

Professor Sidoti is a human rights lawyer, advocate and teacher. He is currently adjunct professor at the Australian Catholic University. His many previous roles in the field of human rights in Australia and internationally include the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Australian Law Reform Commissioner, Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Director of the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, and many others.

The International Criminal Court Jurisprudence: Shifting and Consolidating the Paradigmatic Norms

Patricia Viseur Sellers London School of Economics

Date: Monday 17 June
Where: Melbourne Law School

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is traversing a critical stage in its evolution. Simultaneously, many stakeholders in international criminal law are questioning their adherence to contemporary developments in the field.

Ms. Sellers is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College of the University of Oxford where she teaches international criminal law and human rights law. She is a Practising Professor at London School of Economics and a Senior Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center of the University of California, Berkeley. She was the Legal Advisor for Gender, Acting Head of the Legal Advisory Section and a prosecutor at the Yugoslav (ICTY) Tribunal from 1994 until February 2007 and the Legal Advisor for Gender at the Rwanda Tribunal (ICTR) from 1995-1999.  Ms Sellers developed the legal strategies and was a member of the trial teams of Akayesu, Furundzija, and Kunarac. These landmark decisions remain the pre-eminent legal standards for the interpretation of sexual violence as war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture and enslavement.

The Gaza Protests: The Role of Human Rights Mechanisms in Implementing International Humanitarian Law

Dr Michelle Lesh

Date: Friday 7 June
Where: Melbourne Law School

United Nations’ mandated commissions of inquiry, fact-finding missions and investigations are increasingly utilised to respond to situations that raise justified grounds for believing there have been serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and to promote accountability and counter impunity. On 18 May 2018, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in which it established a CoI to investigate alleged violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, in the context of protests that began on 30 March 2018. The Commission of Inquiry reported to the Human Rights Council on 18 March 2019. This seminar focused on the role of human rights mechanisms as an accountability mechanism for all international law violations. More specifically, does this inclusive approach help or hinder in ensuring respect for IHL?

Dr Michelle Lesh is a Visiting Fellow at the Melbourne Law School and teaches international criminal law at the London School of Economics Summer School. She was recently a human rights investigator on the UN Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza protests. Michelle has a PhD on targeted killing and international law from the University of Melbourne and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has worked at the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, as the principal researcher for the Turkel Commission on investigating alleged violations of the law of armed conflict, as an assistant to Israel’s Deputy Attorney General for International Law and as a human rights officer for the former UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk.

The Destruction of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Cleansing

Dr Noelle Higgins Maynooth University - Ireland

Date: Thursday 25 July
Where: Melbourne Law School

Cultural heritage has always been a victim of conflict, with monuments and artefacts being destroyed as collateral damage in wars throughout history. In addition, in the past, works of art were viewed as booty by victors and stolen in the aftermath of war. In recent years, we have witnessed unprecedented, systematic attacks on culture as a weapon of war. In Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Mali, extremist groups such as ISIS and Ansar Dine have deliberately destroyed heritage sites, and looted and stolen valuable artefacts, which were symbols of minority cultures. This has been described as ‘cultural cleansing’ by the former Director-General of UNESCO, because jihadist groups aim to eradicate all signs of other cultures and purify the area of cultural representations of other groups. These attacks have also led to the displacement of peoples, and thus have contributed to the dilution or erosion of their cultural heritage and expressions. The consequences on individuals’ lives, on group identity, and on the societies in these States are deep and will persist long after the conflicts end.

The destruction of cultural property is now a strategy of war, with the objective being to eliminate cultural diversity and pluralism, ‘erase all sources of belonging and identity, and destroy the fabric of society.’ The shift in focus from collateral damage to target requires us to rethink the legal framework which seeks to protect cultural heritage. This paper aims to identify the approaches to the protection of cultural heritage in the international legal framework and to question if these approaches are adequate.

Dr Noelle Higgins is a Senior Lecturer in the Law Department at Maynooth University, Ireland, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She currently teaches and researches in a variety of fields of public international law, including international criminal law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Her recent publications focus mainly on the field of cultural rights. She published a book entitled Cultural Defences at the ICC (Routledge, 2018) and she is currently undertaking research for a book on cultural cleansing and the destruction of cultural heritage to be published by Routledge in 2020. She was previously the Vice-Chair of the Ethical, Political, Legal and Philosophical Studies Committee of the Royal Irish Academy in Ireland and a member of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - NGO Forum on Human Rights. She currently sits on the Advisory Committee of International Communities Organisation as an expert on the right to self-determination and she is an Academic Friend of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

A Great Debate: Are the Geneva Conventions Relevant 70 Years on?

The Affirmative Team

Ms Yvette Zegenhagen Australian Red Cross
Colonel Arun Lambert CSC Australian Defence Force

The Negative Team

Dr Jonathan Kolieb Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT
Dr Carrie McDougall Melbourne Law School

Date: Tuesday 20 August
Where: Melbourne Law School

This event was hosted by the APCML and the Red Cross.

Are the Geneva Conventions still relevant 70 years after their adoption?  Can laws forged in the wake of WWII - a conflict predominantly fought by state armed forces using conventional weapons - adequately regulate modern conflicts involving nonstate armed actors, cyber operations and terrorist agendas - with the spectre of autonomous weapons using artificial intelligence on the horizon? Are the Geneva Conventions, agreed in an era of hope in multilateralism and collective security, bound to be cast aside in a time when the international rules-based order faces an existential crisis?  This Great Debate, co-hosted by the Victorian IHL Advisory Committee and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Military Law, heard two teams of heavy-hitting, quick-talking experts debate the relevance of the Geneva Conventions 70 years on.

Melbourne@Defence - Twenty years of Protection of Civilians in United Nations Peace operations: Progress, problems and prospects

Dr Charles T. Hunt RMIT

Date: Tuesday 4 June
Where: Defence Legal, Campbell Park, Canberra

2019 marks twenty years since UN peacekeepers in Sierra Leone were first mandated to ‘protect civilians from the threat of physical violence.’ Since that time, the Protection of Civilians (PoC) has moved from the periphery to becoming a centre of gravity for peace operations but also for the UN system as a whole. Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described protecting civilians as “a defining purpose of the UN in the twenty-first century.” It may also be one of its biggest challenges.

While media headlines dwell on the failures and inaction, research has shown that peace operations can contribute to reducing civilian victimisation, decreasing the intensity of conflict-related violence and lessening the likelihood that conflict will reignite. Nevertheless, peacekeepers on the ground continue to face significant challenges when implementing the PoC mandate. A great deal of progress has been made over the past two decades. Cross-cutting policies and guidance have been promulgated by headquarters in New York and specific implementation mechanisms have been developed in the field. But as UN peace operations are commonly deployed in contexts where there is little or no ‘peace to keep’ they are required to confront complex and shifting threats to civilians. Much remains to be done to deliver on this cardinal obligation.

In this talk, Dr Hunt drew on recent research trips to the UN’s peace operations in Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan – the three biggest missions – as well as regular engagement with the Department of Peace Operations in New York, to explain where and how peacekeepers are contributing to the protection of civilians, the major impediments to achieving more, what is currently being done to tackle these and what more can be done to improve the impact of the UN’s protection efforts.

Melbourne@Defence - Legal Issues in UN Peacekeeping

Katarina Grenfell
Date: Monday 28 October
Where: Defence Legal, Campbell Park, Canberra

United Nations peacekeeping operations are increasingly being mandated with wide-ranging and sophisticated mandates to restore peace and security in environments which are not only physically challenging, but also politically complex. This presentation provided an overview of some of the topical legal issues that arise within contemporary peacekeeping operations, including with respect to partnerships in peace operations, safety and security of peacekeepers, and the challenge of ensuring accountability with respect to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Having served as a United Nations legal adviser in the UN Office of the Legal Counsel at UN headquarters in New York from 2000-2018, and as a Senior Legal Officer with the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mission regarding the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic in 2017, Katarina Grenfell has significant experience advising on issues of public international law and United Nations operations.  In particular, Katarina has advised extensively on a wide range of legal issues arising in the context of UN peacekeeping operations worldwide, including as a Legal Officer with the UN Integrated Mission in Timor Leste in 2009.  She has published on a range of matters concerning UN operations including with respect to accountability, the Application of International Humanitarian Law to UN peacekeeping operations, Partnerships in Peace Operations, and Detention.

Admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia and the High Court of Australia, Katarina has an Arts degree, a Law degree with Honours (University of Adelaide) and a Masters in Law with Merit (London School of Economics and Political Science). Prior to joining the United Nations in 2000, Katarina worked as a prosecutor with the South Australian Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, as a lawyer with the Crown Solicitor’s Office and as a Judge’s Associate in the Supreme Court of South Australia.  Katarina is currently enjoying some time in Australia practicing as a Barrister at Murray Chambers, Adelaide.

The Asia-Pacific Centre for Military Law is operated by the University of Melbourne and it is not an agent of, nor affiliated with, or part of, the Australian Government or the Department of Defence.