SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah


Training and dissemination of the fundamental rules and principles of law of armed conflict (LOAC) is the first step in any process to ensure lawful military operations. A soldier, a military unit, an entire military must know the rules and parameters for appropriate, lawful and effective action during armed conflict. In the same manner, accountability for violations of LOAC — whether individual criminal accountability or state responsibility — is an equally essential tool for enforcing the law. Exploring the intersection between these two endpoints of the spectrum of LOAC implementation highlights how training and accountability can actually work together to maximize each one’s effectiveness. The way in which information about training contributes to accountability under command responsibility is a strong reinforcement of the message that commanders must ensure that their troops are properly trained in LOAC and that such training is effective and provided to all troops, regular or irregular. A commander’s commitment to providing training can also be evidence of his or her good character for purposes of mitigation. And a state’s failure to implement a regular and effective program of training and instruction can help determine its responsibility for regular or repeated abuses by its troops.