Human Rights and the Military – Wellington, NZ

Human Rights and the Military; A duty to protect? is an international conference organised by the Armed Forces Law Association of New Zealand in conjunction with the School of Law, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand, 28 – 30 August 2009. The call for papers deadline is March 27, 2009.

Call For Papers

The traditional role of the military as a combat force responsible for the waging and winning of wars has changed significantly since World War II. Since the end of World War II defence forces have faced a list of ever diversifying obligations as illustrated through the imposition of tasks such as peacekeeping, the maintenance of civil order, domestic policing, the building of the rule of law, and reconstructing war torn and climate ravaged regions. This diversification of military roles has combined with the rise of the internet, an almost omnipresent media and a growing public intolerance of casualties of war, to subject defence forces to an unprecedented level of scrutiny. This diverse array of challenges has meant that military forces are now heavily reliant upon the advice of their lawyers. The influence of human rights over both the day to day management and deployment of military forces has and continues to be, a significant influence in the evolution of military operations. Ensuring the maintenance of both primary and secondary rights plays an important role in determining the deployment and training of military personnel. From the deployment of military forces in combat zones, to fulfilling peacekeeping roles and rebuilding communities, all military personnel must be cognisant of their human rights obligations under both international and domestic law.

However, the reach of human rights does not end there. Commanders must also be aware of their human rights obligations when managing military forces. Military discipline, while so important for the effective and efficient operation of any defence force, has also adapted to conform with modern notions of human rights protection. Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have all reviewed their systems of military discipline to ensure greater consistency with human rights norms. But under what circumstances can such rights be limited? Does not the very nature of military deployment require the curtailment of human rights both for defence force personnel and those who are the object of military force, protection or reconstruction?

In the context of modern militaries what human rights obligations arise? And how should military forces deal with human rights? Such issues include the thematic and institutional problems of

• The structure and role of the Military: the protection of human rights or their abrogation?;
• The Military as Enforcers of human rights;
• The Laws of Armed Conflict and their role in protecting human rights;
• Protecting and ensuring secondary rights;
• States of emergency and reasonable limits on human rights;
• The application of domestic versus international human rights norms;
• Military discipline, soldiers as human beings.

The conference will seek to approach these issues from a legal perspective and, as such, will have two main focal areas:

The maintenance of military forces;

The deployment of military forces.

While predominately focusing on the legal aspects of human rights and the military we are interested in contributions from any of the full range of disciplines within the human and social sciences that bear on this topic.

Key Dates
Papers will be selected on the basis of an abstract of no more than 250 words.?  Abstracts should be submitted by email to the Conference Convenor, Dr Chris Gallavin at chris.gallavin [at] by 27 March 2009. All enquiries should be directed to:

Dr Chris Gallavin
Senior Lecturer in Law
School of Law,
University of Canterbury
New Zealand
Further information will soon be available at the conference website

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