Kyiv, Ukraine (8 September, 2016) Today the PfPC in conjunction with the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) completed the first iteration of an academic exchange program focused on the establishment and enhancement of effective military justice systems. Participants from throughout the region attended, and frank discussion ensued on the societal and institutional challenges still prevalent in post-Soviet systems.
As day one began, participants worked to frame the issue and identify the challenges to be addressed within the Ukrainian military legal system. From the National Law University in Kharkov, Ukraine Prof. Mariia Avdeeva briefed the group on the realities of the current system, and weighed possible topics for future consideration.
Judge Shackley Raffetto, a retired U.S. Navy Captain and Circuit Court Judge from Hawaii shared his insight with the assembled group of law professors, politicians, military leaders, ministry personnel, and other attendees.
Joe Holland, from the Office of the Judge Advocate General of Canada offered perspective on the Canadian system - its overlap and differences with other programs. He noted the constraints related to the size of the Canadian corps and the distances needed to be traveled in commission of doing justice system wide (domestic and overseas).
A recurring theme was the critical importance of, and challenges related to adopting appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms. Dr. Fluri notes that in Ukraine it will take cooperation from across ministries and departments to continue the discussion towards identifying statuses and needs within their national military justice system. "Moving forward there will always be a demand for information, and the importance of reviewing comparative information and concrete research based documentation policy support that will help inform partners, and and allow them to share their best practices as they develop internal policies and SOP's."
For the SSR Working Group, the program is not limited to Ukraine - attendees from Armenia, Georgia, and elsewhere throughout the region were in attendance, and it is intended that this event will add a new goal to the SSR WG portfolio: transitioning post-soviet military justice systems towards international standards.
At the close of the event, Dr. Raphael Perl director of the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes commented on the potential for this program to "be tailored to suit the needs of individual national systems. Countries that have adopted and adhere to such a system can strengthen their militaries by having more fair, just, and efficient processes and the effects of these changes permeate throughout society and can effect neighboring states."