Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Hannes Hanso said in the opening speech of the Estonian Reserve Officers’ Association conference “National Defence Law and International Law of War” that national defence law was constantly developing, and had to follow the international and national developments.
“Besides having bigger guns, and cannons that can fire at a greater distance, we also have to define the legal space,” Hanso said. “Everything does not depend only on the size of a country, but also on what we are able to do with our experience and knowledge.”
Hanso admitted that in terms of resources, national defence competed with all other walks of life. “If we want to increase the Defence Forces, we have to stand against demographic problems, find the strengths in people and significantly better use the resources we have in our country,” he said.
Hanso pointed out that according to the National Defence Concept, the number of both active servicemen and the conscripts drafted to military service every year had to increase to 4000. He thinks that today it is too easy to avoid military service, and therefore the basis for conscription should be reviewed. In Hanso’s opinion, the approach should be more flexible, more individual-centred and needs-based, and take into account the motivation of conscripts.
Speaking of inclusion of women in the Defence Forces, Hanso said that according to the Constitution, all citizens of Estonia had a duty to participate in national defence. “Actually we have no legislative basis which says that only men have to participate in national defence,” Hanso said, and remarked that Norway and Sweden could be used as examples.
Hanso said that there were still a considerable number of unanswered questions in national defence that should have a legal solution. He mentioned the issues of cyber warfare, national defence duties, positions in a time of crisis, information warfare and hybrid warfare.
As regards hybrid warfare, how the allies understand it is a very complicated problem from the legal point of view. In Hanso’s opinion, it is therefore urgent to establish the space of defining hybrid warfare, so that it would be unambiguously clear in which cases Article 5 is invoked.
In his opening speech, Hanso acknowledged the reserve officers who, in addition to their military abilities, also contribute to the development of national defence law and international law of war with their knowledge and skills.
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