Uruguay Hosts COJUMA for the First Time
By Diálogo July 14, 2016For the first time, Uruguay co-hosted the Americas’ premier legal workshop, the Military Legal Committee of the Americas (COJUMA) from May 23rd thru 26th. Founded in 1995, COJUMA is a multilateral organization sponsored by U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. COJUMA’s mandate is to develop practical tools to overcome the most pressing legal issues facing commanders across the Western Hemisphere. Legal issues range from the use of force to responsibilities under United Nations mission mandate to protection of civilians to sexual abuse and exploitation. This year’s COJUMA focused on legal issues during peacekeeping operations. During the four-day workshop, participants from across the hemisphere dissected the legal and policy issues confronting troop contributing countries across the globe. To gain a better understanding of the issues, the participants also attended presentations at Uruguay’s National School of Peacekeeping Operations, or ENOPU, as well as a field demonstration put on by the Ministry of Defense. In an interview with Diálogo, Uruguayan Army Colonel Niver Pereira, ENOPU director, said the seminar was very useful for ENOPU because of its functions and needs. “The event was successful for a variety of reasons: the coverage of topics, the quality of presentations, and the participating audience, in addition to the legal issues and possible solutions that were identified to resolve them.” Samuel Londoño, Chief of International Law at SOUTHCOM’s Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, told Diálogo, “COJUMA was a success. Participants recommended that troop contributing countries deploy with their legal advisors to navigate the complexities of today's peacekeeping operations. The UN representative in attendance said COJUMA's recommendation of using legal advisors should become a global best practice.” “The expectations of the majority of participants prior to the seminar were to establish contacts, exchange experiences with other countries, and get guidance for action, and all the objectives were met,” added Col. Pereira. The complexity of peacekeeping operations, as well as the number of operations, is expected to grow, thereby, increasing the need for a clear legal and policy framework and effective institutional control mechanisms. “For those of us working on the field in peace keeping missions, the evolution of the measures of performance, particularly in the use of force, as well as the importance of sexual exploitation and abuse topics, the approach and improvement of legal frameworks is an important issue,” said Col. Pereira. History COJUMA was born from the collaboration of eight countries in Central and South America in Panama City, Panama. Today, COJUMA counts on 24 member nations and, to date, it has produced seminal works ranging from military justice to international agreements to creating a blueprint for model military legal corps.