NEWPORT -- 16 international participants graduated from the 14th DIILS "Law of Armed Conflict and Human Rights" course. The participants lived and studied at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island while attending this three week seminar, which enabled them to ascertain how they and their respective countries can enhance the lawful conduct of military operations -- internal and international. In order to present a range of perspectives, the team of instructors included U.S. and international legal experts from the military, government, academia, and international organizations. The participants also learned about American culture and history through field studies events during the course. They were uniformly positive in their appraisal of the LCHR course as a valuable learning experience with practical applications for their professional development.
The Law of Armed Conflict and Human Rights (LCHR) course prepares commanders and staff officers to conduct operations, including multinational operations, in accordance with the law of armed conflict and human rights law. Participants analyze the application of international humanitarian law (law of armed conflict) and human rights law to a variety of domestic and international operations, (e.g., NATO, UN peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, border security, internal security, and counter-terrorism). During this Expanded International Military Education and Training (EIMET) seminar, the participants, including civilians and officers ranging in rank from Lieutenant to Colonel, compared various legal frameworks and engaged in practical exercises to illustrate the challenges of applying the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and International Human Rights law in a variety of operational settings. They analyzed the full spectrum of LOAC and human rights issues facing military forces today, including gender violence as a tactic of war, human rights in domestic operations, air targeting, terrorism and human rights, child soldiers, torture, command responsibility, transitional justice, transparency in military justice, impunity, NATO gender mainstreaming and the Law of Armed Conflict, UN mechanisms for protecting human rights, detention operations, NGO relations and refugee issues.
Topical films and videos illustrated the complex and dynamic nature of operational challenges, while group exercises and discussion groups guided the participants toward developing best practices for the application of international human rights standards. The course emphasized the importance of a positive professional working relationship between operational lawyers and commanders, in order to enhance operational effectiveness and ensure compliance with LOAC and human rights. A practical exercise on Rules of Engagement and lawful targeting, using a firearms simulation system, gave participants the chance to apply and evaluate their knowledge in a more realistic setting.
DIILS conducted a number of field studies programs (FSP) designed to introduce LCHR participants to American culture and provide some historical context for the democratic ideals reflected in the U.S. Constitution and laws. They visited the Mashantucket Pequot Native American Museum in Connecticut, where they discovered the history and culture of Pequot people. They toured historic Newport, Rhode Island where they learned about New England history. While in New York City, they toured Manhattan and experienced the cultural diversity of a large American metropolis.
During the academic portion of the visit to New York, they met with experts from the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the UN Office for Conduct and Discipline. An expert on child soldiers from an international NGO also addressed the class. One of the highlights of the New York City visit was a presentation by Judge Peggy Kuo, Magistrate Judge at United States District Court for The Eastern District of New York and former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), which successfully tried and convicted three officers of rape and sexual slavery atrocities in the Bosnian town of Foca during the 1990s. The ICTY trials have had a profound and lasting impact on efforts to combat sexual violence in times of war. Judge Kuo also appeared in the critically acclaimed documentary "Women, War and Peace: I Came to Testify" that examined the Foca war crimes and the subsequent ICTY trials.