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Top NATO/PfP Legal Advisers at GCSP for 2nd Symposium

Symposium for Senior NATO/PfP Legal Advisers successfully organised at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy

On 15 and 16 March, 40 top legal advisers from NATO and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) gathered in Geneva for the 2nd Symposium for Senior NATO/PfP Legal Advisers, organised by the Security and Law Programme at GCSP.

After the success of the first edition in 2017, this year GCSP convened Chief Legal Advisers of NATO as well as of the Ministries of Defence and the Armed Forces of NATO member states and states of the Partnership for Peace, to discuss current legal challenges facing NATO and partners.

The 2nd edition of the Symposium was devoted to ‘Challenges regarding Interoperability’. It was led by Tobias Vestner, Cluster Leader of the Security and Law Programme at GCSP, and Steven Hill, Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs at NATO. Participants included Andrés Muñoz Mosquera, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Legal Adviser, Monte De Boer, Allied Command Transformation Legal Adviser, Col Terrence McCollom, International Military Staff Legal Adviser, and the Chief Lawyers of the United Kingdom, the United States, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and other states. Discussion sessions were led, among others, by Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and former Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State, Brig Gen Susan Escallier, Assistant Judge Advocate General for Military Law and Operations, U.S. Army, Gert-Jan van Hegelsom, Head of the Legal Affairs Division in the European External Action Service, and Michael Schmitt, Professor of Public International Law at Exeter Law School. In addition, Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, delivered a keynote speech in the wonderful setting of the Château de Penthes, where participants had a chance to discuss debated issues with him.

The 2018 Symposium registered an increase in the number of participants and countries involved. The format included thematic sessions introduced by kick-off briefings from a participant or guest speaker and followed by informal peer debates. During this time, key legal professionals of the defence sector of NATO and PfP countries discussed their common challenges, shared insights and best practices, debated and deliberated on novel approaches and solutions through collaboration and common undertakings.

The SSL is designed to offer a collegial venue for an impartial and frank exchange. Its goal is to contribute to the clarification of legal complexities while at the same time strengthening personal contacts among Chief Lawyers, with the final aim of enhancing collaboration among legal services.