Print PDF

For more information on accessing this file, please visit our help page.

The statue Veritas, by Walter S. Allward
Philippe Landreville, photographer, 
 Supreme Court of Canada Collection

The statue Veritas, by Walter S. Allward
Philippe Landreville, photographer,
© Supreme Court of Canada Collection

The statue Justitia, by Walter S. Allward
Philippe Landreville, photographer, 
 Supreme Court of Canada Collection

The statue Justitia, by Walter S. Allward
Philippe Landreville, photographer,
© Supreme Court of Canada Collection


Dear CMJ,

I seek the support of the Canadian Military Journal in publicizing the creation of a Canadian National Group of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War (ISMLLW), and to share some information with your readers regarding this organization. The ISMLLW is an International Non-Profit Organization governed by Belgian Law, originally created in 1956. The official languages of the ISMLLW are English and French.

The objectives of the ISMLLW are: the study of legal issues related to security and defence affairs, from an international law and comparative law perspective; the promotion and dissemination of knowledge of the law related to security and defence affairs, including international humanitarian law, military law, and the

principles of human rights; and research into harmonization of

internal systems of law in these respects.

The ISMLLW holds Congresses every three years at different locations around the world, and also holds issue-specific meetings in various countries on a more frequent basis. For example, the most recent Congress was held in Québec City in May 2012, and topic-specific meetings were held in 2011 in Rhodes, Greece, and in Beijing.

The internet website of the ISMLLW may be found at: http://home.scarlet.be/~ismllw/index_UK.htm.

The ISMLLW has over 700 members, among whom are university professors,

military or civil magistrates, high state officials, lawyers, and general and field grade officers from over 50 countries. In 1997, the Society was granted consultative status by the United Nations.

Moreover, the ISMLLW is a liaison organization for 22 National Groups, each with a distinct status, that work for the same objectives pursued by the ISMLLW, and which organize their own activities on the national level.

Persons may be admitted to membership of the ISMLLW either individually, or by acceptance into a recognized National Group. The National Group is responsible for collecting annual membership dues, and for forwarding them to the ISMLLW in Brussels.

The advantage of joining a National Group is that it permits a greater focus and concentration of efforts to be made by individuals within each country at the national level, while also allowing those individuals to participate fully in the activities of the ISMLLW at the international level.

Recently, at the 19th Congress of the ISMLLW held at Québec City, the formation of a Canadian National Group was authorized by the ISMLLW Board of Directors, and I was designated as the President of the Canadian National Group. At the same meeting, the Judge Advocate General, Brigadier-General Blaise Cathcart, was elected as a Vice-President of the ISMLLW itself.

 The creation of a Canadian National group presents an exciting opportunity to expand and improve upon the study of military law in Canada, with particular emphasis on military justice, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and procurement law. Membership in the Canadian National Group is open to all interested individuals, military and civilian, of any academic background or profession.

The Canadian National Group will be a bilingual organization, and its activities will be conducted on a bilingual basis.

We are seeking to create a website for the Canadian National Group in the near future in order to provide information and to promote its activities. In addition to an annual meeting, possible options envisaged for Canadian National Group activities currently include:

  • A military law blog on the website
  • A Newsletter
  • To co-organize conferences with:
    • The CBA National Military Law Section
    • University Law faculties
    • The Canadian Council for International Law
    • The Office of the Judge Advocate General
    • The US National Group of the ISMLLW  

We have already had discussions with the Canadian Bar Association about the possibility of co-hosting an event next year on the topic of Child Soldiers.

The Annual Membership fee for the Canadian National Group will be $50. Most of this will be remitted to the ISMLLW in Brussels to maintain the membership of all the members of the Canadian National Group in the ISMLLW, as required by the Statute of the ISMLLW, and the balance will be used to fund National Group activities.

 Persons interested in joining the Canadian National Group of the ISMLLW are invited to send an email to: CanNatlGroupISMLLW@gmail.com.

 Suggestions for future activities for the Canadian National Group are also welcome at the same email address.

 We look forward to creating a vibrant Canadian National Group of the ISMLLW and to the exciting opportunities that it presents.

 Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to receive further information about the Canadian National Group.

Michael Gibson
Deputy Judge Advocate General Military Justice
President of the Canadian National Group ISMLLW


Dear CMJ,

I read with great interest the article in the Volume 12 No 2 edition entitled The Comprehensive Approach: Establishing a NATO Governance Support Team, by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Cooper. It is excellent to see the intellectual development of the Comprehensive Approach as we, the Canadian Forces, grow beyond the more limited ‘Whole of Government’ view, and look to how we can be integrated with the larger community during expeditionary operations. Lieutenant-Colonel Cooper's proposal is an excellent step forward from the great work done by the Strategic Advisory Team in Afghanistan, and is consistent with NATO's Comprehensive Approach to Operations.

However, I would like to propose that the term ‘GST’ is quite misleading, as the term is well established within Canadian Military doctrine. While not considered NATO terminology, the term ‘GST’ has referred to a ‘Geomatics Support Team’ as an enabling element providing geospatial expertise and products to joint operations since prior to 1999. Geomatics Support Teams are well-described in "Military Engineer Support to Operations (B-GG-005-004/AF-015),” and have been employed on Operations in Bosnia, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan, as well as at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, in the Canadian Arctic, and in response to many Red River floods.  A quick review of Termimum:
http://www.termiumplus.gc.ca/site/termium.php?lang=eng&cont=001, or the Defence Terminology Bank http://terminology.mil.ca/term-eng.asp, will reveal the same results.
The concept that Lieutenant-Colonel Cooper describes is excellent, and it should be promoted both doctrinally and as a CF capability for operations.

However, use of another term would be less counter to Canadian doctrine and operational practice.

D.R. (Derek) Spencer
Chief of Operations and Training
Directorate of Geospatial Intelligence
Canadian Forces


Cover of Vol. 12, No. 2

Cover of Vol. 12, No. 2