Practice Relating to Rule 141. Legal Advisers for Armed Forces
Ukraine’s IHL Manual (2004) states:
1.5.3. To solve any issues related to the application of the laws of war, the commanders and commanding officers shall engage legal advisors whose functions are performed by assistant unit commanders responsible for legal work (legal counsellors of the military units).
1.6.1. During an armed conflict, officers and employees of the legal service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, assistant unit commanders responsible for legal work (legal counsellors of the military units) perform the duties of legal advisors.
Legal advisors shall provide the commanders with necessary advice concerning practical issues of compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law and rules of engagement, as well as to provide necessary instructions to the personnel.
1.6.4. In times of armed conflict the legal counsellor shall:
- approve and sign draft service documents prior to the decision by the appropriate military command to authorize combat actions from the standpoint of their compliance with the rules and demands of the laws of war;
- provide necessary assistance to the military command in solving difficult questions and choosing both legal and effective courses of action;
- provide assistance to the military command in solving emerging legal issues and removing obstacles during combat actions;
- take direct part in hostilities, if necessary;
- make himself/herself aware of future combat plans in order to assess their conformity with the rules and demands of international humanitarian law;
- in case of noncompliance of the military command actions with international humanitarian law, to remind the commanders of the necessary rules of the law of armed conflict, in particular, of Article 87 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions on the protection of victims of war of 8 June 1977; should the violations of the laws of war fail to be removed, the legal counsellor must report this to the higher command both in oral and written form.
Legal counsellor shall be charged with recording and initial investigation of violations of the laws of war by members of both friendly and enemy forces.
Legal counsellors from among officers and employees of the legal service of Ukraine’s Armed Forces of relevant administrative bodies shall participate in the combat planning, approval and signature of draft service documents as to their conformity with the rules and demands of international humanitarian law.
Ukraine’s Act on the Internal Service Statute of the Armed Forces (1999), as amended in 2005, provides:
During armed conflict, the legal adviser of the commander of the regiment advises the command as to observance of rules of international humanitarian law and rules on the use of force and as to instructions given to military personnel.