Call for papers – Stellenbosch – 8/9 November 2023

2nd Edition

Military justice as it is, as it was,

as it was compared and as it could be

Stellenbosch, South Africa

8-9 November 2023


The International Military Justice Forum (IMJF) is an academic event dedicated to fostering scholarship and teaching in the fields of military justice and military criminal law. It aims at bringing together academics, professionals, military officers, students, and all those who share an interest in these exciting disciplines. Its first objective is to highlight the diversity of military justice systems, to expose their salient features, to explore their history and to underline their actual evolution. In a comparative way, the IMJF also aims to emphasise links and similarities that may have existed – or still exist – between national military laws, which may be consequences of circulations of legal models, codes, doctrines and people or the existence of geopolitical influences. This scientific event must finally allow us to imagine together what the future of military law could be, as our armed forces are transformed by new technologies and ever-changing threat perceptions. Its originality is to mix disciplines. History, law, ethics, philosophy, and new technologies will be at the heart of our debates and discussions.

The first edition of the International Military Justice Forum took place in Paris in 2021. The Centre de Recherche des Écoles de Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan (CReC), in collaboration with the Facultyof Military Science of Stellenbosch University, will host the second edition in Stellenbosch, South Africa, over the period 8-9 November 2023.


  • To highlight contemporary military justice systems and to compare them (Military Justice as it is).

This first part should be used to deepen existing knowledge on military justice systems that exist in the world and to identify points of comparison. Many issues are to be considered: What are the legal foundations of military justice? What is the jurisdiction of military courts? How are courts organised? How are they hierarchised? How do they work? Are they special and different from civilian courts? Are they specialised civilian courts? Or are they organised in a mixed way? Who is the judge? What is the procedure? What are the offences? What are the penalties? What is the officer’s role in military justice?

All these questions could also be used to provide a critical look at a national military justice system, in terms of structure, rules or training: how to improve and to reform military justice?

  • To recount the history of military justice in the world (Military Justice as it was).

This second part aims to highlight the main historical developments of military justice, from Antiquity to the contemporary period:

1/ The evolution of the sources of military justice:  Military justice systems are known to have been largely built by major legislations, as, among others, the first Articles of War in England (1385), the Mandement de Montdidier (1347) and legislations of 1796 in France or the Swedish code of 1621. At the origins of these founding texts, famous legislators have left their mark on the history of military justice. However, the latter has also developed in practice, thanks to courts decisions and to political debates. In other words, what have been sources of military justice? Who are those who contributed to its history?

2/ The institutional aspect:  Gradually, military justice has been structured and institutionalised, before being integrated into State administration. How has military justice been transformed in the context of the construction of states and the establishment of permanent and professional armed forces? This question implies others: how did new bodies of specialised lawyers appear? Broadly speaking, what have been the major structural and institutional transformations of military justice?

3/ The theoretical foundations of military justice:  Christianity, Humanism or Enlightenment, for example, have influenced development and evolution of military justice (Belli, Ayala, Grotius, Vettel, etc.). Who are the main authors and intellectuals who used their pen to call for reform? What were their arguments? Have they been influential?

4/ Military justice in its military context:  Establishing a modern system of military justice is one thing. Ensuring it functions properly is another. Has military justice always been effective in times of war and especially in times of debacle or defeat?

5/ Military justice in practice:  The history of military justice is also that of trials and cases. Some are famous, others have been forgotten. Some have made military justice grow, others have turned public opinion against it. What are great military affairs in history? Which less well-known ones deserve to be known better?

  • The circulation of military justice models in the world (Military Justice compared)

Comparative studies can answer two sets of questions.

1/ Why compare national military law? It seems that many authors, lawyers or not, military or not, have in the past compared, and still compares, national military laws or military justice systems today. There are a variety of reasons for that: criticising a system, promoting or rejecting reform, categorising or classifying laws or procedures, or simply exposing diversity. It also seems that several national military laws have been models used to build other national legal systems. The aim is to look at the circulation of military law models around the world, and to expose methods and motives of legal comparison.

2/ Are there « families » of military law? French comparatist René David identified several “families” of legal systems in the world (Common Law, Civil Law, Religious Law, etc.). But could it be possible to identify families of military laws? In other words, have colonisation, international treaties of all kinds (e.g. NATO), intergovernmental organisations (Ex: Commonwealth), political unions (Ex: USSR), political and economic associations (Ex: EU) or simply interstate cultural or diplomatic bonds, contributed to the emergence of “families” of military justice systems, whose members share common features and similarities?

  • Imagine tomorrow’s military law and military justice (Military Justice as it could be). Battlefield robotisation, augmented soldiers, artificial intelligence; present and future technological developments, and their use by armed forces, will necessarily be controlled and regulated by law. Stakes are numerous: responsibility, consent, courts’ jurisdiction, etc. What does the future hold for military law and military justice?

We invite proposals that fall within the following categories:

  1. Individual papers. Paper proposals must not exceed 400 words.
  2. Panel proposals. Panel proposals, including short bios of the panelists, must not exceed 800 words.

While not excluding proposals on other topics, preference will be given to papers on the topics listed above and especially on the topic “Military justice reform”.

Papers will be given in English

Organisation committee:

Gwenaël Guyon (CReC Saint-Cyr) Stéphane Baudens (CReC Saint-Cyr)  Evert Kleynhans (Stellenbosch University) Michelle Nel (Stellenbosch University) Sonja Els (Stellenbosch University)

Proposals should be sent to the forum’s organisers, specifying in which section papers
would be included:

The deadline to submit a proposal is 15 March, 2023

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