Practice Relating to Rule 141. Legal Advisers for Armed Forces
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands notes: “States must ensure that legal advisers are available to advise military commanders concerning the application of the law of war.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
Section 6 - Experts and legal advisers
In view of the great importance of correct application of the rules of the humanitarian law of war, experts are to be called in to give training in, and implement, such rules. States should seek, even in peacetime, to train expert personnel to implement the humanitarian law of war and, especially, facilitate the activities of the protecting powers. States may do this in cooperation with the national Red Cross (Red Crescent) organizations.
0251. States should also ensure that legal advisers are available in the armed forces, to advise commanding officers on the application of the humanitarian law of war and on instructing the armed forces in this law. In the Royal Dutch Army, the officers of the Military Legal Service fulfil the functions of legal adviser.
In its chapter on the prevention and punishment of war crimes, the manual states:
1104. The States should also ensure that legal advisers are available to give military commanders advice on the application of the humanitarian law of war. In the Royal Dutch Army, staff jurists are assigned to larger units for this purpose (C-Command Land Armed Forces and brigade). In a unit with a special mission, even if it is a smaller unit, provision must be made to allocate a staff jurist. The staff jurist has an independent role in the staff, under the commanding officer or chief of staff. He forms part of the command group.
1105. He advises both the commanding officer and the coordinating and special staff officers on the application of the humanitarian law of war. Because of the distinction which must be drawn in principle between civilian population and objects on the one hand and military objectives on the other hand, the functional area for the staff jurists is central (intelligence and operations).
The staff jurist should participate in a planning group as necessary. A special role is assigned to the staff jurist in the targeting process. It goes without saying that the legal adviser’s tasks are wider in the complex targeting process of the air strike forces at operating level than in the targeting process of a brigade. Generally, at higher level, tasks of the allocated staff jurists will be divided up. In a combined joint task force headquarters, for example, jurists will be deployed in the service teams of the combined joint operations centre. A jurist will also be assigned to CJ 5 – the Planning Cell.
On the basis of an interview with high-ranking officers of the army of the Netherlands, the Report on the Practice of the Netherlands states that the Royal Netherlands Army has legal advisers at all levels higher than brigade level.