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Australia: Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law launched in Sydney

15-08-2002 News Release 02/33

Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill launched the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law (APCML) in Sydney on 8 August. The Centre is a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and the Australian Defence Force's Defence Legal Service.

The APCML will assist the military forces of the Asia Pacific Region with research and training on the laws governing military operations and will also be helping them with implementation. The Minister described the Centre as “A significant strategic initiative, with the potential to make a very positive regional contribution in the area of promotion of the rule of law in the conduct of military operations. "

The keynote speech at the launch was given by the Fijian High Commissioner, Major General (Retd) Jioji Konousi Konroti. He and other speakers emphasized that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had been at the origin of international humanitarian law (IHL). The launch was also attended by Sir Ninian Stephen, former Justice of the High Court of Australia, Appeal Judge for the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and Patron of the Centre, as well as diplomats, ambassadors, and senior military personnel.

On behalf of the ICRC, Dr Thomas Gurtner – Head of the ICRC Regional Delegation for the Pacific – handed over an IHL library to APCML Director Professor Tim McCormack, who is also the Australian Red Cross Professor of International Humanitarian Law at the University of Melbourne. The library is for the benefit of Centre users, and Gurtner hoped it would mark “The beginning of regular contact and reciprocal support between the ICRC Regional Delegation for the Pacific and the APCML.”