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Australia: Launch of Multinational Operations and the Law

12-05-2014 Event

On 28 May the Australia Mission held a special panel discussion to mark the upcoming edition of the International Review of the Red Cross (IRRC) dealing with multinational operations and the law.

Event Info

Where: Canberra, Australia

When: 28.05.2014, 17:30 - 19:30

Moderated by Dr Mike Kelly AM, the event brought together experts from the humanitarian, military and legal fields including Group Captain Chris Hanna, director of operations and international law at the Department of Defence, Professor Tim McCormack, from the University of Melbourne, and Mariya Nikolova, the editor of the IRRC.

The panel discussed the multitude of legal challenges that can arise within multinational operations, including issues associated with chains of command and international obligations in detention activities, among others.

Professor McCormack shared his views on why it’s an ideal time to be discussing these topics: “A lot of first world militaries would say not much has changed for them; they have always been engaged in multinational operations from their very inception,” he said. “But what’s changed is the quite dramatic increase in the number and range of multinational operations in third world situations especially on the continent of Africa, where so many operations are now conducted either under the auspices of the African Union or the Economic Community of West African States. As a consequence, in third world conflicts there is a whole range of operations we are confronted with that raise complex legal questions.”

Other highlights included the contribution by Ms Nikolova, who brought the humanitarian perspective by detailing the complexities the ICRC faces in its engagement with multinational forces. She named identifying the legal framework of multinational operations and determining accountability for violations of international humanitarian law as among the key challenges.

The multinational operations and the law edition of the IRRC will be available here in the coming weeks. 


In this interview with the Australia Mission before the panel event, moderator Dr Mike Kelly AM, former Australian military lawyer and leading expert in peace operations, shares his perspectives on the legal challenges related to multinational operations and the law.