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Launch of new military law centre.

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MEDIA RELEASE Senator the Hon. Robert Hill Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate




A new military law centre launched today will soon be teaching our armed forces the laws of armed conflict for military and peace operations as well as laws relating to the recently established International Criminal Court.

Defence Minister Robert Hill officially launched the new military law initiative at a ceremony at HMAS Penguin today.

The Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law (APCML) is a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and the Australian Defence Force’s Defence Legal Service. The centre will conduct research at the Law School of the University of Melbourne and training and education courses will begin in October in Sydney.

"The Australian Defence Force’s rate of operational tempo is currently extremely high - we have forces on duty throughout the world and in our region," Senator Hill said.

"The environments in which our forces operate are extremely complex, particularly in terms of the legal issues confronted.

"In deploying and operating forces, either under the United Nations or as part of coalition operations, Australia is committed fundamentally to the rule of law.

"This centre will help educate legal officers and commanders throughout the Asia Pacific region on international law."

Senator Hill said the centre is also important following the establishment of the International Criminal Court. He said significant levels of training and education are required in order to teach the armed forces what ratification of the ICC means in practice.

"Offences created under the ICC consist of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including attacks on humanitarian and peacekeeping missions," Senator Hill said.

"Our armed forces need to be educated in the role, functions and jurisdiction of the ICC. They also need to understand how to operate in coalitions, for example with the United States, which is not ratifying the ICC."

The centre will conduct seminars, conferences and courses for both civilian and military participants.


The Right Honourable Sir Ninian Stephen has agreed to be the inaugural Patron of the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law.

The centre’s Director, Professor Tim McCormack, is also the Australian Red Cross Professor of International Humanitarian Law at Melbourne University. The centre’s Deputy Director, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kelly, has extensive operational experience as an ADF legal officer and is also the Director of the ADF’s Military Law Centre.

One of the centre’s first major international seminars will be held at the University of Melbourne’s Law School in November. The seminar will focus on the rule of law on peace operations as part of the "Challenges of Peace Operations: Into the 21st Century" project.

The ‘Challenges’ project commenced in 1997 and has taken the form of a series of seminars in partner countries involving some 230 organisations, 50 countries and a wide spectrum of professions, religions and cultures.





















Media Contacts: Minister’s Office- Sascha Meldrum 0409 201 126

Defence Public Affairs NSW- Ross Gillett (02) 93592787, 0411 203 578