New International Law

July 3, 2007

Real Estate Law. Tax deductions and rental income (by:Viara Zaprianova Marshall)

Filed under: property management,real estate law,Uncategorized — vzmarshall @ 8:34 pm

Your taxes and your rental income

We often don’t realize how much we can benefit from our taxes when we have a rental income and are paying much more than we should or have to. Knowing the legal tax deductions for owners of rental property will make our task much easier and our business more profitable.

As many of you probably know, the interest on the mortgage loan payments that is used for rental property improvement is deductible and any interest from a lending financial instrument – like the use of a credit card for the purchase of services or goods, that will be used solely for rent activity purposes is deductible as well. The same applies to any repairs made to the rental property like: fixing leaks, painting, replacing windows, floors, garage facilities, façade of the building, done annually or during the years.

Vital for your tax planning would be the depreciation of your own property. It’s the real cost of your property and includes the deduction of a portion of the cost on the property. Make sure that you and your financial advisor/accountant know how to plan that amount during the years.

Your traveling expenses are also deductible. This include your regular business drive to manage the property and the long distance travel expenses, including staying overnight in a hotel, airfare, meals and so forth related to your rental activities. You can use the actual expenses for gasoline or repairs on the car you have made or profit from the standard mileage rate.

Any expenses you had for professional legal, accountant services, property management firms, participation in real estate investment seminars or any other professional advice you have received are deductible.

The expenses you have for independent contractors and employees that are hired with regard your rental activities are deductible (like the repair workers, hygienists, security guards, the resident manager and others.) You can also deduct their health and other worker compensation insurance.

Home office expenses are deductible from your taxable income. This includes any office, workshop, workspace you devote to your business, whenever you rent the place or own the property.

The insurance over the building and landlord liability are also deductible (like accidents, theft losses, fires, floods, etc.)

Knowing your business and the legal norms that protect you and that give you advantages in what you are doing are small steps that will help you grow quickly in you entrepreneurial endeavors.

 Viara Zaprianova Marshall – legal expert; international law, political philosophy, civil-military relations, civil rights, human rights, researcher on real estate and financial planning advantages and liabilities.www.newinternationallaw.com 

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February 21, 2007

Civilian Courts vs. Military Courts in the Democratic State

An independent and impartial judiciary is an important factor in the republican concept of the separation of powers. A juridical system operating free from interference and pressure from other branches of government, guarantying the rule of law in all fields of statecraft, is vital for the democratic governance of a country.

The military establishment of a country serves as an instrument of politics and is part of the executive power bestowed with the specific authorization to use violence under the supremacy of policy. The special task of the military and its embodiment of force make it particularly necessary that the military operates within the boundaries of the constitutional and legal framework of the state. The principles for a juridical system in a democracy – independence, impartiality, and fairness – must be extended to military jurisdiction as an integral part of the overall juridical design of the nation.

It also has to be taken into account that the strict hierarchical order of the military organization makes the theoretical distinction between disciplinary and criminal offenses inevitable. Consequently, the nature of soldiering and military duty subjects military personnel, particularly soldiers, to a twofold jurisdiction: as citizens they are subjected to the civilian code of laws; as soldiers and defense personnel they are subjected to a disciplinary system that covers all the peculiarities of military duty (e.g. defection from the troops, abuse of leadership authority, etc.). As far as the distinction between disciplinary and criminal offenses is concerned, non-criminal behavior on a mere disciplinary level is normally relegated to the juridical authority of military commanders and leadership personnel and does not immediately influence the military jurisdiction in the sense of establishing military courts. However, in order to make the juridical system on the disciplinary level transparent and subject to fair treatment according to the constitutional principles, sanctioned individuals can appeal to higher levels of military authority, independent institutions such as a board of complaint or a military ombudsman, or civilian administrative courts. In some countries, like
Germany, the guarantee to appeal is given through the institution of an Independent Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner, charged also with the oversight of military disciplinary treatments.

On a conceptual level, the issue of military criminal courts can be resolved in two principle ways: a) Establishing a separate system of military courts and military justice; or b) Civilian courts as all-encompassing juridical institutions extending their jurisdiction also over the military sphere.

 A variety of implications impacts the decision which systematic to choose. Among the most prominent are: The size of the military organization along with the predominant tasks and missions (exterritorial deployments); the history and tradition of the juridical culture; the complexity of the military world and the need to establish a specified juridical expertise; the maturity of the political system and the quality of civil-military relations.

The nations of the Euro-Atlantic community have placed their systems of military justice appropriately in their normal jurisdiction, however, have structured their systems differently. For instance Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands do not have special military courts while Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States do. The countries decide upon the aforementioned criteria and also how they assess the utility of their juridical system within the national circumstances.

The heterogeneous picture in the domestic legislation shows a wide variety of personal, territorial, temporal and subject-matter jurisdiction and varies in terms of functions, composition, and operation from one country to another.

In several countries, nevertheless, military jurisdiction has not yet reached the levels of democratic governance. Military courts in some Latin American countries, for instance, are not independent but rather organizationally and operationally dependent on the executive. Military judges are often military personnel on active service who are subordinate to their respective commanders and subject to the principle of hierarchical obedience. The question if the military courts can observe the right to be tried and judged by an independent and impartial tribunal with full respect for judicial guarantees remains an open one. In some cases, military courts try juveniles under 18 years age and also the right to conscientious objection is often undermined. In several Latin American countries the military have such broad powers that any offence committed by a member of the military falls to their jurisdiction so that military privilege becomes a true class privilege.

In some countries military courts are authorized to try even civilians in peacetime for violations of national security or anti-terrorist laws. However, many countries like Spain, Brazil, and
Guatemala have eliminated military jurisdiction over civilians for political crimes. Military courts were and are still used to try members of the armed serves of their nations, for instance police members, who have committed human rights violations.

It is mostly for these reasons that some experts argue that in a democracy civilian courts should have the jurisdiction over all criminal acts committed by military personnel and civilians, including common crimes and violations of civil liberties. The primary task of military courts should be limited and only observed when enforcing the implementation of the military code of justice in regard to military discipline and the effective performance of a mission. The need for military discipline should only criminalize offenses against military discipline, such as the abandoning of one’s post.

The issue should, in any case, be approached from the perspective of whether or not military jurisdiction is compatible with the obligations incumbent under international human rights law with regard to both the administration of justice and gross violations of human rights.

In the European context, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, offers directive in this regard. According to Article 6, the military justice system should seek to minimize disparities between the treatment of armed forces’ members and civilians. Only original signatories to the European Convention may derogate from the provisions of Article 6 in their application of the military justice system while new signatories are obliged to meet the Court’s requirements.

Another important dimension regarding civilian and military justice in democracies is the issue of peacetime and wartime jurisdiction. While the constitutional design of most states does not allow for military courts in peacetime, it does so for wartime periods. However, the problem remains the same. How can the requirement that courts should be independent and impartial and guarantee due process and the observance of human rights be met under all circumstances?

It is for this reason that the idea of implementing the so controversially debated International Criminal Court was brought up. Fair and impartial jurisdiction should be upheld for cases where national military justice could not be guaranteed for reasons of domestic instabilities, civil wars, or other rogue circumstances.

Irrespectively of the way in which military jurisdiction is organized, it has to be supported by proper legal education of officers and leadership personnel. The legal provisions help every commander to observe the rule of law whenever issuing an order, and assist him in exercising appropriate command authority. It countries where military justice is built upon the legal heritage of occidental thinking, individual responsibility stands at the core of legal regulations. Servicemen have a duty to disobey illegal (criminal) orders or orders which clearly and obviously violate human dignity and cannot justify their actions by referring having committed them upon an order. The individual accountability of even servicemen and the rank and file in the military pose a tremendous responsibility on the shoulders of both officers and soldiers. Nevertheless, it is an important dimension in strengthening military jurisdiction and providing the highest possible level of lawful conduct of the military and defense personnel.

A strong and efficient system of military courts and military jurisdiction assuring impartial and objective enforcement of legal provisions also serve as an effective means to prevent professional misconduct and violations of international humanitarian law and human rights as they leave no doubt that such offenses will be persecuted by competent domestic and international judicial organs.

In a world of comprehensive security, the mingling of military and non-military threats and challenges, and increasing civil-military cooperation in terms of national and international security affairs, the issue of military justice plays an ever more important role. The moral and legal challenges in an environment that features asymmetric warfare and confronts regular soldiers and military establishments with adversaries neglecting virtually all provisions of international humanitarian law are immense. When soldiering are carrying out their missions, which demand flexibility and creative adjustment to rapidly changing conditions, legal protection as well as enforcing legally appropriate behavior under all possible circumstances are of utmost importance. 

In a democratic context, this can only be achieved if the system of military justice is a fully integrated and accepted part of national jurisdiction, irrespective of how the military legal scheme is detailed within the nation’s juridical power.

author: Viara Zaprianova Marshall, legal expert, International Law, International Relations, Civil-Military Relations, Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law, Political Science, Political Philosophy.

Accountability and Transparency of the Security Sector to the Parliament. Special Parliamentary Instruments and Methods of Democratic Control of the Security Sector

The Security Sector represents an area of national politics which is particularly subjected to the system of checks and balances of governance in an open and democratic society. Since the security sector comprises the security forces themselves as well as the civilian authorities responsible for their use, the issue of security sector accountability and transparency leads far beyond mere civilian control over the military. The security sector, as encompassing the nation’s human and material means to use force, is comprehensively interwoven with the overall fabric of society in a political, economic, and sociological sense and therefore touches upon all facets of civil-military relations. The necessity to ensure accountability of those who hold executive responsibility in security and defense affairs derives from the immense power that rests with this bestowment and is mostly directed toward the legislative authority, the parliament, as the representative body of the people. To provide transparency with respect to how the nation’s means of force are administered rests with both major parts of national power, the executive and the parliament, and is primarily oriented toward the public.

While the responsibility for the overall guidance of the armed forces and the basic organization, formulation, and implementation of national security and defense policies resides on the part on  the executive power, the task to pass fundamental laws on defense and to ratify policies and the deployment of forces is normally conferred to the parliament. On top of the legislature’s responsibility, however, we find the authority to exercise parliamentary oversight over the security sector including the budgetary control, the ‘Power of the Purse’ function of parliament as the most powerful tool of the legislature.

In this sense, the parliament has the power to influence the way in which the government designs, implements, and executes the security and defense policies of the nation. It does so by legislation, budgetary decisions, approval of major procurement and defense policies, establishment of committees, etc.

The constitution provides the basic legal provisions for the responsibilities and accountabilities within the security sector.  It determines the rights of the executive authorities to guide and lead the organizations working in the security sector and holds the latter responsible for their actions toward their head executives and, at the same time, establishes the accountability of the executive to the parliament. The Constitutional provisions define the basic political and parliamentary instruments for control and provide the tools for securing democratic oversight of the security sector. The general powers of the Legislature are to initiate laws, to make amendments and appendages, to approve the budget for defense and security, to overview and amend the budget funds, and discuss the appropriate numbers for funding and adequate policies for the security sector in committees.

From this context arises the Legislature’s stake in the development of security policy concepts, its responsibility regarding force structures and defense strategies, personnel planning conceptions,  and in certain cases the approval of major appointments in the defense establishment. The parliament also has the final authority in sending troops abroad and to decide on the participation of military forces in international missions. It approves their mandate, identifies the magnitude and duration of a mission, and defines the rules of engagement and the operational jurisdiction. Another general prescription concerns procurement decisions, the right to approve or reject contracts related to weapons, military equipment, supplies and armament.

Parliamentary oversight of the security sector is an essential element of the arrangement of checks and balances built in democratic constitutions, serves as a counterbalance to the executive power (which deals with security issues on a daily level), attributes to policy effectiveness, and monitors the executive on security matters. The members of parliament have to exert constant oversight on weapons procurement, arms control, and the preparedness of the armed forces. To fulfill that commitment, parliamentary factions designate defense speakers and establish defense committees. Legislative debates on defense issues contribute to the creation of an informed public ready to participate in a constructive and sophisticate dialogue on security policy issues. The transparency of this process of open debate and decision legitimizes both the armed forces and defense policy.Good governance, as an effective cooperation between defense sector exponents and parliament, is a conditio sine qua non for democratic oversight of the security sector and demands “predictable, open and enlightened policy-making, a bureaucracy imbued with a professional ethos acting in furtherance of public good, the rule of law, transparent processes and a strong civil society participating in public affairs.” (The World Bank’s Experience, World Bank 1994). The debate on security issues is going through several phases: 1) the development of security policy, 2) the decision-making phase, 3) the implementation and evaluation of the pursued policy.The role of the parliament in the development of a new national security policy is limited because this is primarily a competence of the government. However, an important role for the parliament lies in the task to make the process transparent to the public, and by doing so, exerts indirect influence on the shaping of policies. Parliamentarians also have to argue the rationale of emerging new security concepts, have to make clear why change is required, and win the public’s support and understanding.  Parliamentary committees provide expertise on subject matters and are often consulted in earlier stages of policy development, when the draft is in process of elaboration or in order to provide time for reflection and consideration. Committees also use the discourse in order to get inputs for the development of associated legal norms.The second phase commences with the official arrival of a proposal for amendment or the realization of a new legal provision at the parliament. Particularly when established defense committees reject or suggest changes to draft documents, the proactive and decisive role of the legislature in the decision making process becomes visible. The passing of defense legislation and the parliament’s approval of security policies are acts considered to be most important factors in democratic civilian control as they are supposed to represent the people’s broadest consent. The issue of transparency and accountability manifest itself fully when it comes to monitoring and scrutinizing public expenditures and financial demands of the government. The instruments and mechanisms used by parliament to control policy execution and supervising the administration are common for most of the democratic system and usually include parliamentary debates, questioning and interpellations, and parliamentary inquiries as a means to obtain information from the executive. Parliamentary debates on security issues are conducted when the executive reports on defense or foreign affairs, during the presentation of strategic reviews or other major defense documents as well as in connection with budget proposals and governmental programs concerning security matters. The interpellation is a procedure of attending to members of the government, either ministers or representatives of concerned ministries and departments, and has two characteristics: to raise general debate and to carry political sanctions. The interpellation is the most direct form of control and ends with a vote expressing the approval or disapproval of the parliament with the explanations given by the executive. The purpose of the procedure of questioning is to educe concrete information from head representatives of the executive in order to obtain detailed facts which can clarify complicated bills laid before the parliament. The widely used practice of parliamentary questioning is normally preceded by a set of questions handed to federal ministers by parliamentary factions which grants the executive time to carry out their own interagency investigations and prepare detailed answers.  This should provide for timely, accurate, and updated information on issues of defense and security questions, help the parliament to control the implementation of the security related policy, keep executive bodies and organs answerable for their doings, and to generally provide transparency on security and defense subjects to the parliament in its entirety and via the media to civil society as a whole. The instrument of questioning also serves to redefine policies to exert further influence on political agendas. Another common foundation for democratic societies in the implementation of democratic oversight is the establishment of specialized defense committees and, at times, intelligence committees to oversee government policies, as well as, to examine operations and performances of security sector organizations in the field. The size and the special focus of committees allows for scrutinizing subject matters more closely and also offers a better opportunity to attain to compromises or find consensus among different political parties on important security issues. In this sense the committees are most influential on preparing new legislation or amendments, also providing expertise and advise for executive drafts or petitions before their submission to the parliament for full debate. Committee reports grant guidance to legislators on the floor regarding their discussions and their final on the issues. The security clearances of parliamentarians serving on defense committees allow them to conduct secluded hearings when secrecy is required, however, beyond the boundaries of national security, committee representatives also provide for the essential level of transparency toward society and the public. A number of legal provisions and mechanisms authorize committees to access and scrutinize the expertise necessary to exercise oversight of the security sector. These competencies include the right to request government documents, summon witnesses (including ministers and state secretaries), and hold public hearings. The nature of the security field often produces bureaucratic unwillingness to reveal information, a phenomenon normally exacerbated when intelligence services become involved. In many countries of eastern and southeastern
Europe the practice of policy makers and military representatives who have been historically accustomed to operating behind a curtain of secrecy and unaccountability constitutes a heritage which is still to be overcome.
In any event, parliament alone cannot guarantee effective oversight of all executive activities and policies within the security sector. Other national institutions also responsible for overseeing the security sector, such as the judiciary and the general auditing office, have to join in. An important role is being played by civil society mostly as far as the use of think tanks, research institutes, and academic circles are concerned, all of whom are tasked to engage in public debate, contribute expertise on specific issues, and offer alternative courses of policy action. Stimulating the existence of a nongovernmental defense community supports the objective to foster transparency and accountability in the sensitive field of the security sector.The media serve as the major link between state institutions and civil society at large, including the broad range of organizations and institutions dealing with security affairs. They help the public and their representatives to grasp issues and articulate their interests. They largely contribute to overseeing the action of the three branches of state power and raise the debate in the society on particular questions, which in turn could have an impact on the decision-making process in the government and among the legislators. From a democratic and good governance perspective, the media have the right to gather and disseminate information on security related issues in the interest of society and to contribute to transparency and public information following the principles of fairness and objectivity. 

All procedures and mechanisms built in constitutional provisions and laws to promote accountability of the executive toward the legislature and bind both to the constitutional principles are not an end in itself. They serve the overall goal of assuring the nation of most efficient security policies that contribute to the best interest of society while striking a balance between the need for security and the upkeep of democratic freedom and civil liberties.

author: Viara Zaprianova Marshall, legal expert, International Law and Politics

February 10, 2007

Constitutional and Legal Framework of Civil-Military Relations and Democratic Control of the Security Sector.

The Constitution, the Laws, the Division of Powers, Civil Society and Its Institutions: Fundamental Democratic tools of ‘Guarding the Guardians’

The most striking characteristic of modern statehood is a paradox: the separation of powers and the monopolization of force. Any modern democratic constitution ensures that the legislative power, as the one making laws, is clearly separated from the executive power, as the one who executes the laws. With the modern state civil society has given itself a tool of coercion that assures the populace of security from both external and internal threats while, at the same time, giving them the opportunity to live out their freedoms and determine themselves within the boundaries of legal justice. To achieve this aim, the use of force and the means of violence are monopolized and concentrated in the hands of the coercive tools of the state – the security forces, such as the military, the police force, border police and gendarmerie, etc. Given the task of the military to protect the country primarily from external threats, the monopoly on the use of a large range of instruments of lethal force rests with the armed forces. Since this almost exclusive monopoly on force endows the armed forces with the potential to physically dominate all other institutions and take over the political control of the state, one of the oldest challenges to a democratic society has persistently been of how to subordinate the armed forces to the civilian leadership and authority; a problem that has already concerned ancient Rome. It was the senator Juventus who raised the question in the Roman Senate, ‘Quid custodit ipsos custodes?’(Who shall guard the guardians?)

The problematic is difficult because it involves balancing two vital and potentially conflicting interests. On the one hand, the military should be strong to prevail in war, to ward off attacks and protect the society against any external threats and support internally when non-military security forces are overwhelmed; on the other hand, the polity wants to make sure that the use of force remains a last resort and a means used only when legitimized by the elected political authorities.  In light of the military’s capability to prevail under the exceptional circumstances of armed conflict and war, the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the military is an essential criterion influencing civil-military relations. Even under the conditions of modernity and the contemporary challenges to societies, there is a continuing need for the armed forces to remain apart from society in their distinctive organizational structure and military culture if they want to successfully carry out assigned tasks and missions. This distinguishing characteristic makes it even more crucial to establish civilian political control over the military and, at the same time, to integrate the military in a social and political environment. In modern civil societies the essential framework for the position of the military in the state as well as the mechanisms for the democratic civilian control over the armed forces are set forth in the Constitution. The political power of modern statehood is divided into three branches: The Executive (headed by the President or the Prime minister), the Legislative (usually exercised by the Parliamentary Assembly or Congress, with one or two houses), and the Judiciary. The strict rules of the constitutional and legal framework provide for a system of checks and balances that is intended to ensure successful governance. According to the Constitution, the armed forces are normally part of the executive and embedded in the system of the separation of powers. They are bound by law and justice, subordinated to the political leadership and, like the other executive branches of the state, the armed forces are subject to legislative and judicial control. This set of constitutional regulations shall ensure that the sole legitimate source for the direction and actions of the military should be derived from civilians outside the military establishment. These legal arrangements also make clear that the armed forces are accountable to the legitimate democratic authorities. Although subject to national differences, democratic constitutions generally bestow the responsibility for national security and the overall guidance of the armed forces on the executive power. The Constitution designates the President (in some cases the Prime Minister) as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the nation, who exercises his power normally through a cabinet and an appointed civilian Minister of Defense. The executive power formulates and proposes security and defense policies and implements them after approval by the legislature. The general role of the legislature in matters of defense and security is to pass respective legislation and to ratify procurement decisions, policies, and on the deployment of forces. The most important role for the legislature to exert civilian control, however, is the budgetary control, the ‘Power of the Purse’ function of the parliament, which gives it especially the competencies to pass the budget and to decide on appropriate funds for the personal and material requirements of the armed forces. This task is reinforced by the entitlement to parliamentary oversight in all fields of national security and defense. In addition, the parliament establishes special committees on defense to carry out a particular functions in monitoring the implementation of the security and defense policy by the government. Parliamentary Committees also participate in preparatory work for parliamentary debates and decisions on matters of security and defense.  The legislature may also subject the armed forces to control by a national auditing office regarding efficient, legal and transparent budgetary spending and lawful financial conduct of the armed forces. The legislature also provides an extensive set of legal rules and provisions pertaining to the internal order of the armed forces. Concrete military legislation is provided through laws on defense (such as Defense Acts) which, among other issues, regulate the legal status of soldiers and define basic rights and duties for military and defense personnel.

The significant role of the parliament in legislating on security and defense issues is also an important prerequisite for good civil-military relations. This role is crucial in the formulation of defense and security policies, the decision-making processes concerning defense budgets, and the controlling mechanisms for spending the resources.

The judicial power evaluates and interprets the constitutionality of laws and, by way of independent courts, monitors and ensures that the armed forces act in accordance with the laws. It also guarantees the members of the armed forces their rights and make sure that they are always subjected to a constitutional consistent jurisdiction.A firm constitutional foundation warrants a clear separation of powers and also defines the basic relationship between the state authorities and the armed forces. In essence, the constitutional provisions protect the state from two types of dangers: from politicians who have military ambitions, and from militaries with political ambitions.

Civilian political control finds its roots in the concept of representative democracy. The fundamental premise is that elected civilian authorities define and guide national policies concerning security and defense and maintain decision-making power over the military at all time. Civilian control and leadership, in the general sense, extends even beyond competence in a particular sense. Given the nature of modern societies, including the position of the armed forces as an instrument of politics, civilians are morally and politically authorized to make decisions. This holds true even if they do not possess the relevant technical competence in the form of a particular expertise. In a civil-military context this means that the military is tasked to help identify threats and appropriate responses, however, that beyond the military’s advisory role the political decision-making power rests with the civilian leadership.

With respect to civilian control of the military and the stance of the armed forces in society and state, a conceptual distinction between two principle forms – subjective and objective – of civilian control of military power has been made by Samuel Huntington in his seminal work “The Soldier and the State”. By subjective civilian control Huntington understood the maximizing of civilian power by both civilianizing and politicizing the military, by making it politically dependent, and denying the military a distinct professionalism remarkably different from other organizations in society; by objective civilian control he recognized the maximizing of military professionalism, making it a politically neutral tool of the state, and guaranteeing the military a distinctive existence as a professional body.
Huntington’s idea is that objective civilian control is preferable since the best guarantor for military subordination to political supremacy is a truly professional military. Only military professionalism would acknowledge the role of the military as an impartial instrument of national security, neither bound to engage in party politics nor prone to intervene in politics or assume governmental control.

Civilian political control, however, is only one aspect of democratic rule. The hierarchical responsibility of the military to the government through the establishment of a civilian minister of defense and a civilian administration in the ministry of defense do not exclusively provide for stabile civil-military relations. The legitimization of civilian control by legal institutionalization in connection with the organizational structures and control mechanisms built into the legal framework is only one precondition for establishing democratic civil-military relations. Political control is necessary, but not sufficient. The second parameter of civil-military relations, the societal dimension, is necessitated by the major three political factors making up the environment of civil-military affairs: the political elite, the military profession, and the civil society.

Several important scholars of civil-military relations theory came to emphasize the focus of societal rather than institutional state control as decisive in modern democratic civil-military relations. Among others, Morris Janowitz made clear that this side of civilian control refers to the incorporation of democratic ideas and values in the military culture as well as in the political traditions of a nation. While the military and particularly the officer corps have to fully acknowledge the principles of democratic governance and ought to share the basic democratic and human values, a developed civil society has to have clear understanding of the democratic political culture, including the acceptance of the roles and missions of the military.

Together with the need for the armed forces to earn the understanding and respect of the society within which they exist, society itself has a reciprocal duty towards the armed forces. Society must be understanding and respectful if it wants to enable the armed forces to contribute efficiently to national security, without overstepping the boundaries of their constitutional entitlements. The soldiers have taken on a personal obligation for their nation that is almost unlimited – an obligation that may include fighting and even dying. In return, the societal community must recognize the consequences of military duty, e. g. the use of land for military training, airspace. Furthermore, if the nation’s political leaders decide that conscription remains essential, society must accept the consequences of recruitment for individuals and families. Society also needs to acknowledge the expenses for defense and security, including the right of soldiers to proper pay, appropriate living conditions, and its obligation to integrate soldiers and their families in the civil environment for which they are required to serve. Adequate education of military personnel also plays a major role in the societal integration of the armed forces and reveals the necessity to turn the guardians into fully cultured and developed members of society who carry out their duties in a deliberate and conscientious manner. This will also help to reintegrate the soldiers both socially and economically after they have finished their service. The skills in civil emergency and disaster relief operations soldiers and defense personnel have acquired during their service will add valuable technical and leadership competencies to society.

All of these considerations reflect the fact that finding an appropriate position of the armed forces within the society is not only a matter of establishing constitutional norms, but requires reflection and sustained efforts by all actors involved in civil-military relations. It demands the reciprocal sharing of duties and responsibilities in a joint venture of civil and military players.

The maintenance of national security, including efficient contributions from the part of the armed forces presupposes some amount of confidence and trust, which the armed forces must have in their political leadership. Political governance has to be provided in a consistent and coherent manner with clear initiating and implementing authority, even and particularly when defense decisions have to be made in complex situations or during crises.  Representatives of the military establishment have to be heard in their advisory function and should be properly integrated in the counseling bodies established for political decision-making in security matters.

In open and democratic societies political processes take place under media scrutiny and the critical eye of the public. Transparency and legitimization of goals, objectives, and operative organizational procedures are constant challenges that have to be met by all organizations. The responsibility to explain defense policies and military needs to the public rests primarily with the government and the parliament. The military establishment contributes to these processes by presenting their tasks, roles, and missions openly to the community at national, regional, and local levels while observing political impartiality and without violating the principle of the supremacy of policy. This makes it inevitable that academic circles, the media, the industry, and the society as a whole are being integrated into the processes of communication and dialogue on security and defense matters.In a world of comprehensive security challenges, civil-military relations in a democracy is a wide-ranging, multifaceted, and interdisciplinary undertaking which involves all relevant forces of society and state. 

author: Viara Zaprianova – Marshall

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