African military legal experts participate in "law of armed conflict" conference

The Judge Advocate General Legal Center and School hosts 4th annual Maj. Gen. John L. Fugh and Multinational Interoperability Symposium



By U.S. Coast Guard Cdr. Trent Warner, and Ms. Sandra Franzblau U.S. Africa Command Office of Legal Counsel Jun 05, 2018
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Legal advisors from Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and South Africa joined counterparts from around the world, and U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Africa to attend the 4th annual Major General John L. Fugh and Multinational Interoperability Symposium, here, May 28-29, 2018.

The event, sponsored by The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS), invites the most senior military legal officials and law of war academics from around the world to participate in two days of intense meetings to discuss and exchange of views on emerging legal issues in the law of armed conflict.

AFRICOM sponsored six military legal experts from across Africa, including Col. Floribet Njako (Cameroon), Brig. Gen. Moses Kofi Gyeke Asante (Ghana) Brig. Gen. Daniel Kuwali (Malawi), Brig. Gen. Mahmood Umaru Wambai (Nigeria), Brig. Gen. Thipe Setsemo Matjila (South Africa), and Col. Godard Busingye (Uganda.)

The theme of this year’s symposia was the “Future of Conflict,” with issues presented by a series of panels comprised of both military and academic authorities on the law of armed conflict. More than 90 military and academic experts from around the world were in attendance.

Discussions centered on the nature of future conflict, conflict classification in the modern operational environment, weapons systems of the future and weaponizing cyber capabilities, and the myriad legal issues these topics present.

Serving as host, The Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army, Lt. Gen. Charles N. Pede, paid homage to to the memory of Maj. Gen. John L. Fugh, the first Asian American Judge Advocate General of the Army, and in whose honor the symposium is named.

The second day of the symposium was devoted to the Multinational TJAG Interoperability Symposium, where a series of roundtable discussions took place focusing on legal issues in targeting and civilian casualties in urban operational environment, and the protection of soldiers under domestic criminal law.

The event provided participants the opportunity to hear from experts in the law of armed conflict and to exchange views with other senior military legal officials from around the world. The six African senior military legal officials participated fully in the symposium by sharing their perspectives on the challenges of applying the law of armed conflict by multi-mission militaries that both protect the state and enforce its laws, a common issue for African security forces throughout Africa.

The event was truly international as attendees included military legal experts from Argentina, Australia, Brunei, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Honduras, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and NATO.

U.S. Coast Guard Cdr. Trent Warner, Chief of Legal Engagements at AFRICOM, stated that the two-day event was a success overall and for the African senior legal officers in particular.

“Our African partners recognize the importance of finding the time to pull away from their operations to consider the current state of the legal frameworks we all work with every day,” Warner said, “and assess their future application given the ever-evolving nature of conflict.

“At this event, both we, and our African colleagues have had the opportunity to consider together the changing nature of conflict and how that could influence evolution in the law. We are delighted to have them join us here, and to benefit from their significant contributions to the discussions,” he said.

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