Conference: International Law in the Asia-Pacific

Conference: International Law in the Asia-Pacific

Conference: International Law in the Asia-Pacific

Thursday October 26, 2023
9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Robert Sutherland Hall, Room 202, Queen's University
International Law in teh Asia-Pacific


The Canadian Red Cross, the Centre for International & Defence Policy, Queen’s Law, and the Canadian Forces Military Law Centre are pleased to announce the 2023 Ontario IHL Conference to be held at Queen’s University in Kingston. This year’s theme is “International Law in the Asia-Pacific.”

This free, public, half-day conference featuring academics and practitioners, will provide participants the opportunity to increase their understanding of pressing issues and challenges pertaining to international law in the Asia-Pacific.

The Asia-Pacific region is rapidly becoming a global centre of economic dynamism and a host of complex strategic challenges. It is also the home of a vibrant civil society invested in protecting the human security, human rights, and livelihoods of 60% of the world’s population. This event will highlight the need for Canada and the Canadian public to demonstrate global humanitarian leadership and sustained commitment to help address f Asia-Pacific populations’ concerns. In this spirit, our experts will assess prospects for the peaceful management of territorial and other disputes in the context of increased militarization of areas where international law in general, and humanitarian law in particular, is being challenged from the South China Sea to Myanmar. The event will profile international humanitarian law (IHL), Maritime Law, Canada’s contributions to regional security, and humanitarian and disaster relief interventions.

Register Here


Sophie Rondeau

Dr. Sophie Rondeau

Philip Drew

Dr. Phillip J. Drew

Mark Raymond

Professor Mark Raymond

Emma Fingler

Emma Fingler


08:30 am - Registration

09:00 am - Introduction, Land Acknowledgement & Asia-Pacific contextual overview | Words of Welcome

  • Howard Coombs, Deputy Director - Centre for International & Defence Policy

  • Dr. Sophie Rondeau, Director and Legal Advisor, IHL Education

09:10 am - International Humanitarian Law

  • Dr. Sophie Rondeau, Director and Legal Advisor, IHL Education

09:50 am - Maritime Law in the Asia Pacific Region

  • Dr. Phillip J. Drew, Assistant Dean JD and Graduate Studies

10:30 am - Break

10:45 am - Panel Presentations

      Moderator: Brigadier-General (Ret'd) Ken Watkin

  • What’s Really Going on in the South China Sea?
    • Professor Mark Raymond, Wick Cary Associate Professor of International Relations, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Director of the Cyber Governance and Policy Center, University of Oklahoma
  • Disaster Governance and Responsibility to Protect in Myanmar
    • Emma Fingler, PhD Candidate - Queen's University
  • Canada’s Contributions to Regional Security
    • Lieutenant-Commander Brent K. Lemon, CD Deputy Director, Canadian Forces Military Law Centre, Canadian Armed Forces

11:50 am - Evaluation

11:55 am - Closing Remarks | A word of thanks

  • Lieutenant-Commander Brent K. Lemon, CD Deputy Director, Canadian Forces Military Law Centre, Canadian Armed Forces
  • Dr. Sophie Rondeau, Director and Legal Advisor, IHL Education

12:00 pm - Reception

12:30 pm - End of Conference


Dr. Howard G. Coombs is an Associate Professor of History at the Royal Military College of Canada and Deputy Director of the Centre for International and Defence Policy, Queen’s University, both located in Kingston, Ontario. Coombs is also a part-time Canadian Army reservist with the Canadian Defence Academy, also in Kingston. Coombs received his PhD in Military History from Queen’s University and his primary research interests are Canadian professional military education, in addition to Canadian Cold War military operations and training.

Dr. Sophie Rondeau is currently Director and Legal Advisor at the Canadian Red Cross, in the International Humanitarian Law team. She started with the Red Cross in 2005 as the HIP (Humanitarian Issues Program) coordinator for Québec; she then held various legal and governance functions in the organization. She graduated from Université de Montreal's Law Faculty (LL.B), holds a Masters' degree in International Law from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) (LL.M), a Doctorate in Law from Université de Genève and Université Laval (LL.D), and is a member of the Quebec Bar (2003 / articled at the ICTY). In the last 15 years, she has been a researcher, guest speaker and lecturer in various Canadian universities and she has worked in institutions such as the Diakonia IHL Centre, Rights & Democracy and the Jean-Pictet Competition. She is a member of the Governance committee and a Board member of Canada’s Amnesty International Francophone section, and previously sat of UQAM’s Alumni committee, and on L’Itinéraire’s Board of Directors. She currently lives on the island of Tiohtiá:ke\Montreal with her husband and 2 sons.

Dr. Phillip Drew is a former military officer who divided his thirty-one year career in the Canadian Armed Forces between the Intelligence Branch and the Legal Branch.  Following his retirement from the Forces he worked as a senior consultant in the Maritime Security and Counter-Piracy Directorate at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.  From 2016-2020 he was an Associate Professor at the Australian National University College of Law where he taught International Humanitarian Law, Maritime Security Law, and Peacekeeping Operations Law.  He earned the degree of Doctor of Law (D. Iur.), from the University of Frankfurt (Oder) where he specialized in the Law of Maritime Blockade.  He completed both his Juris Doctor and Master of Laws degrees at Queen’s University.

Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Ken Watkin OMM, CD, KC, served for 33 years in the Canadian Forces, which included 28 years as a military lawyer. He finished his military service as the Judge Advocate General (20062010). In addition to serving as a prosecutor and appellate counsel Ken worked in a variety of military law positions including operational law, training, human rights, and general legal advisory roles.  He advised the 1993 joint civilian/military Board of Inquiry investigating the Canadian Airborne Battlegroup in Somalia; and served as Government legal counsel in respect of inquiries and investigations arising from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda representing Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) Dallaire and his military assistant. This included appearing as counsel in 2004 before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. As the Deputy Judge Advocate General/Operations and the Judge Advocate General he was responsible for operational law advice to the Army, Air Force, Navy and Special Operations Forces for a significant portion of the 2001-2010 time period following the attacks of 9/11.

Upon retirement Ken was appointed as a Foreign Observer to the Israeli Independent Commission investigating the 31 May 2010 Gaza blockade incident, which inquired into the actions of the Israeli Defence Force concerning the seizure of the Motor Vessel, Mavi Marmara. He subsequently served as the Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Law at the United States Naval War College (2011-2012). Ken has also worked as a counterterrorism/national security consultant for the United Nations regarding the collection of evidence on the battlefield, and in Canada concerning human intelligence operations.

Ken Watkin has written extensively about the application of international law to contemporary conflict and counterterrorism. His book Fighting at the Legal Boundaries: Controlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2016) was awarded the 2017 Francis Lieber Prize by the American Society of International Law as “an exceptional published work in the field of armed conflict.”  Ken also co-authored a second book, Law in War: A Concise Overview (Routledge, 2nd ed., 2023).  He has published over sixty articles, on-line commentaries and book reviews on international humanitarian law, human rights and national security law with his work being cited by both the Canadian and Israeli Supreme Court.   

Ken was a member of the Editorial Committee of the International Committee of the Red Cross project to update the 1949 Geneva Convention (III) on Prisoners of War Commentary that was published in 2020. He has participated as an expert in international working groups tasked with clarifying the law and developing manuals/studies regarding Cyberwarfare, Occupied Territory, Air and Missile Warfare, Direct Participation in Hostilities, The Conduct of Hostilities and State Self-Defence.

Ken is a graduate of The Royal Military College (Hons BA), Queens University (LLB and LLM) and was a visiting fellow at the Human Rights Program at Harvard University (2002-2003). In 2002 Ken was appointed to the Order of Military Merit, in 2006 a Queen’s Counsel (now King’s Counsel), and in 2010 received the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) President’s Award that recognizes the significant contribution of a Canadian jurist to the legal profession, to the CBA or to the public life of Canada.

Mark Raymond is the Wick Cary Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Oklahoma, and the Associate Director for International Security Policy at the Oklahoma Aerospace and Defense Innovation Institute. In addition to his faculty appointment, he is the Associate Editor of International Theory. He is the author of Social Practices of Rule-Making in World Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019). His work appears or is forthcoming in various academic journals including International Theory, the Journal of Global Security Studies, Contemporary Security Policy, Strategic Studies Quarterly, The Cyber Defense Review, the UC Davis Law Review, and the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs. He has contributed policy commentary to outlets including Lawfare, The Monkey Cage, and The Diplomat. He was a Senior Advisor with the United States Cyberspace Solarium Commission, and he has testified before the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development, and at the UN Internet Governance Forum.

Emma Fingler (she/her) is a SSHRC-funded doctoral candidate researching gender, disaster response operations, and regional governance in South and Southeast Asia. She is a Doctoral Fellow with the Research Network on Women, Peace and Security (RN-WPS) at McGill University and is a Graduate Research Fellow with the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP) at Queen’s University. Emma is the 2023 Graduate Scholarship recipient of Women in Defence and Security (WiDS). She was previously a Canada-Asia Young Professional Fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Emma has experience working abroad on humanitarian, development, and coordination issues. Prior to joining Queen’s, she was the Special Assistant to the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kathmandu Nepal, and a Junior Professional Consultant with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Kathmandu. She holds an M.A. in Global Governance from the University of Waterloo’s Balsillie School of International Affairs and a B.A. Hons. in Political Studies from Bishop’s University.

LCdr Brent Lemon graduated from the Royal Military College as a Naval Warfare Officer and sailed onboard warships of the Royal Canadian Navy before joining the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces. He is fortunate enough to have served in a variety of locations including Canada’s Arctic, Ukraine, and Latvia with NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup. Needless to say, he has a very patient partner and family.

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