Practice Relating to Rule 141. Legal Advisers for Armed Forces
The Russian Federation’s Military Manual (1990) states:
As far as questions of application of the rules of IHL are concerned, the Commanders … shall, when necessary, turn to the assistance of legal advisers (art. 82 of Additional Protocol I). The officers of the Legal Service have been entrusted to perform this function by an order of the USSR Ministry of Defence.
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states:
In the event of armed conflict, in decisions related to the application of international humanitarian law, commanders, whenever necessary, shall rely on their legal advisers whose functions at the division (regiment) level are vested in the commander’s assistant on legal matters.
In the event of armed conflict the division (regiment) commander’s assistant on legal matters shall carry out the duties of a legal adviser on issues related to the application of international humanitarian law.
- prepare on the commander’s instruction legal statements on the draft combat documents and other papers compliance with international humanitarian law. In case of discrepancy, he shall report to the commander and, if necessary, provide a written clarification;
- advise the command and other officials on, and clarify issues related to the application of, international humanitarian law rules;
- conduct on the commander’s instruction training (methodological) sessions with commissioned officers, take part in international humanitarian law knowledge and application skill tests, including in a combat environment;
- supervise on the commander’s instruction military units’ respect for international humanitarian law; in case of violations, he shall immediately report to the commander and on his instruction organize administrative investigation thereof;
- record and analyse international humanitarian law violations committed by the enemy;
- provide legal support to the division (regiment) command as to the treatment of prisoners of war and detained civilians;
- provide legal support to the investigation of claims and complaints by the civilian population dealing with the behaviour of the military personnel while carrying out their mission;
- provide legal support to the division (regiment) command’s co-operation, in areas of combat operations or in the occupied territories, with the local administration, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, national Red Cross (Red Crescent) societies, and other organizations carrying out humanitarian action in favour of the victims of armed conflicts.
The Internal Service Regulations of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (2007) provides:
General Obligations of Commanders (Superiors)
77. … A commander (superior), when considering issues pertaining to IHL rules, shall rely on the assistance of a legal adviser when necessary.
Obligations of the Legal Assistant of a Regiment (1st Rank Ship) Commander
. … At the time of armed conflicts, the legal assistant of a regiment (1st rank ship) commander shall carry out the obligations of a legal adviser to the regiment (1st rank ship) commander.
The Russian Federation’s Order on the Publication of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols (1990) requires that Vice-Ministers of Defence and commanders at several levels “charge the officers of the Legal Service of the Ministry of Defence with the duty of legal advisers foreseen by art. 82 of Protocol I”.