Practice Relating to Rule 142. Instruction in International Humanitarian Law within Armed Forces
Australia’s Commanders’ Guide (1994) stipulates that Australian Defence Force (ADF) members “are to be trained in [LOAC] basic principles and therefore avoid breaches of these laws”.
The Guide also states: “The training adviser for LOAC training in the ADF is the Director-General of Defence Force Legal Services.”
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states that Australian Defence Force (ADF) members “are to be trained in basic [LOAC] principles and avoid breaches of these laws”.
Australia’s Defence Training Manual (1994) states:
4. … the Government of Australia is required to disseminate the text of the conventions [the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the 1977 Additional Protocols I and II and the 1907 Hague Convention (IV)] as widely as possible, so that the principles become known to the members of the ADF [Australian Defence Forces] …
5. The aim of this Instruction is to set out LOAC training policy and objectives for the ADF …
6. The training adviser for LOAC training is the Director-General of Defence Force Legal Services …
7. The requirement for training in LOAC in the Australian Defence Force is based on the following considerations:
a. Australia is bound by the Hague and Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols to disseminate their texts for study by the military.
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
13.2 All ADF [Australian Defence Force] members are responsible for ensuring that their conduct complies with LOAC. They are to be trained in its basic principles and avoid breaches of these laws.
13.9 … There is a specific requirement to instruct medical personnel, chaplains and those responsible for handling prisoners of war (PW) and the administration of protected persons. There is a general requirement to disseminate to the armed forces as a whole.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
In 1984, in an assessment of the military implications of the 1977 Additional Protocols I and II, Australia’s Joint Military Operations and Plans Division of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) stated:
In recognition of the requirement for training in the laws of armed conflict, COSC [Chiefs of Staff Committee], in February 1983, agreed to the introduction of a formal training programme in the laws of armed conflict in the ADF to meet the provisions of The Hague and Geneva Conventions, [Additional] Protocols I and II and customary law …
However, the requirement for the Convention and Protocols to be disseminated “as widely as possible in respective countries” has not been addressed by Defence, as this is not a Defence responsibility.
Enumerating the matters which Australia believed must receive priority attention in the outcomes of the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1995, the head of the Australian delegation noted:
All States must take effective action to disseminate the law [of armed conflict] within their armed forces … States and relevant international organizations must work together to ensure that dissemination programs are given the highest priority in terms of funding and materials.
In 2000, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the protection of UN personnel, associated personnel and humanitarian personnel in conflict zones, Australia stated:
Practical measures can be taken by Governments to promote understanding and observance of international humanitarian law within their own communities, especially among military and security forces … including by disseminating information about international humanitarian law.
In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Australia stated:
All ADF [Australian Defence Force] members both full time and part time are required to undergo training in law of armed conflict in accordance with Defence policy. The single services (Navy, Army, Air Force) Chiefs are responsible for ensuring their members are adequately trained. … Training is delivered during initial and professional development courses, specific specialist courses and pre-deployment training. Members are trained to a level of understanding commensurate with their duties and responsibilities.