News | Jan. 23, 2014

International & Operational Law

By Cmdr. DeAndrea Fuller, International and Operational Law (Code 10)

The Office of the Judge Advocate General International and Operational Law Division (Code 10) provides legal services in diverse areas involving law of the sea; law of armed conflict; international agreements and negotiations; foreign criminal jurisdiction; and international maritime environmental law affecting U.S. Navy and Department of Defense interests.

Personnel within Code 10 have a broad range of experience derived from operational deployments, assignments to numbered Fleets, and tours at combatant commands and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.   The Operational Law (OpLaw) Department consists of a team of seasoned Navy and Marine Corps judge advocates practicing on the cutting edge of law, national strategic policy, and technology.  This includes the application of law of armed conflict requirements to new weapon systems such as lasers and autonomous systems.  Various non-lethal lasers have been used by military personnel in operations for years; however, one of the technologically advanced weapon systems that Code 10 is currently reviewing is the Navy's Laser Weapon System (LaWS).  While pre-deployment technological analysis of the system is ongoing, and must be completed before Code 10 can complete its legal review, when approved, LaWS will be the first "true" laser weapon ready for operational employment aboard a U.S. warship.  This is but one of the many exciting projects to which our attorneys contribute in the operational law field.  Our monthly "Oplaw Advisory” publication provides judge advocates valuable information about operational law, law of the sea, and other international law developments. 

The Law of the Sea is an essential tool in supporting the worldwide deployment of U.S. armed forces. Code 10 attorneys provide advice to policy makers throughout the Navy and DoD; coordinate with other agencies including State, Commerce, Justice, and Interior; represent DoD and Navy on U.S. delegations to the International Maritime Organization and other international fora; support the DoD Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs (REPOPA); and maintain the DoD Maritime Claims Reference Manual.  On a routine basis, Code 10 on behalf of the DoD REPOPA attends the Baseline Committee, established to determine and update the baselines from which the breadth of the U.S. territorial sea is measured.  Code 10 has partnered with fleet judge advocates to complete the Omnibus Law of the Sea Brief with Fleet Annexes to assist deploying judge advocates with information tailored to law of the sea issues in Geographic Combatant Commander areas of responsibility.  Code 10 has also provided expert assistance to Department of Justice attorneys prosecuting an individual accused of acts of piracy in the Horn of Africa.     Code 10’s International Programs Department provides support to Navy and Marine Corps for international agreements and international criminal cases.  Our attorneys advise on the drafting, negotiation, interpretation, and implementation of international agreements that are critical to the Navy's continued integration and cooperation with our foreign allies.  We maintain the Navy’s international agreements database as required by the DoD General Counsel and administer Case Act reporting on international agreements to the State Department.  Additionally, Code 10 monitors active Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction matters relating to our military personnel facing criminal prosecution abroad, supports judge advocates dealing with those cases, and keeps the Judge Advocate General informed.  If you have background in operational deployments, possess an LL.M in international law, or have worked at a numbered fleet or joint command, Code 10 is a perfect place for you to influence the development of operational and international law at the policy level, including OPNAV N3/5, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and the interagency. Feel free to reach out to any of us for more information.   Learn more about the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy and its codes

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