The Catholic University of America


Soldier Turned Lawyer Explains International Peacekeeping Law

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Dr. Bruce “Ossie” Oswald used to fire guns as a solder in the Australian Regular Army, with operational tours in Rwanda, the Former Yugoslavia, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt. 

Today he fires another impressive weapon - his trained legal mind – at problems around the globe.
Oswald was the featured speaker at the Columbus School of Law on Feb. 11 as he spoke with students regarding “Legal Issues in Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement Operations” at the invitation of the Military and National Security Law Students Association, the Democratic Law Students Association, the Republican National Lawyers Association, and the International Law Students Association.
Today, Oswald is an associate professor at the University of Melbourne Law School; a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace; and a colonel in the Australian Army Reserves.
His interests lie in the areas of rule of law, international humanitarian law, peace operations, and post-conflict state building. Much of his research involves examining the law and practice surrounding militias undertaking law and order tasks, the protection of civilians, and the taking and handling of detainees during military operations.
Oswald’s address at CUA Law covered topics such as international principles of the treatment of detainees, and what body of law covers the activities of international peacekeeping forces as deployed by the United Nations. He discussed implied versus articulated international powers, and urged students to think carefully about the seemingly contradictory functions that peacekeeping forces are sometimes asked to perform, such as detaining civilians in areas of unrest.
“I’m struggling to see how I can detain somebody when I’ve been delegated to protect this person’s life,” Oswald remarked.