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U.S. Ends 4-day Engagement With Nigerian Military Officers On Techniques For Protecting Civilians During Operations

By Sonia Odigie

The United States Defence Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS) has ended a four-day engagement with officers from the three Services of the Armed Forces of Nigeria on the development of Nigerian military’s capability to ensure the protection of civilians during operations.

The four-day engagement, held in Abuja, was led by U.S. lawyers and military members with years of experience in operational law and military justice.

During the engagement, participants through group discussions and presentations were able to explore ways legal advisors can assist in the planning of operations to reduce the risk of unintentionally harming civilians.

According to the U.S> Department of State statement and released by the U.S. Mission in Abuja, “Experts from the U.S. Defense Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS) worked with 14 officers from all three Nigerian military branches August 15-18 on issues involving human rights, the law of armed conflict, and the protection of civilians.  Through group discussions and presentations, participants explored ways to expand the role of military legal advisors beyond their traditional military justice roles. 

“For example, legal advisors can assist in the planning of operations to reduce the risk of unintentionally harming civilians.  In addition, participants discussed ways to enhance the Nigerian military’s investigation, tracking, and public reporting of incidents where civilians are unintentionally harmed.

“DIILS is the lead United States Department of Defense resource for global legal engagement and capacity-building with international defense sector officials.  This four-day engagement in Abuja was led by U.S. lawyers and military members with years of experience in operational law and military justice.  They built on similar, ongoing DIILS institutional capacity building efforts since September 2021. 

“Through these engagements, the U.S. and Nigeria aim to further develop the Nigerian military’s capability to ensure the protection of civilians during military operations and to respond in a timely way to incidents of civilian harm during such operations.  The United States looks forward to continuing these engagements with the Nigerian military in the future.”

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