Have the Rules of War Changed; Are they Still Relevant?

Feb. 17, 2020
Office of Communications
Col. Randy Bagwell
Randy Bagwell, retired U.S. Army Colonel and expert on international humanitarian law, will speak at Assumption on March 19.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel and expert on international humanitarian law, Randy Bagwell, will present a lecture titled, “Do the Geneva Conventions Still Matter?” on March 19 at 4 p.m. in Kennedy Memorial Hall Room 112 on the Assumption Campus, 500 Salisbury St., Worcester.  

Last year, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, a series of international treaties ensuring the humane treatment of prisoners and non-combat civilians during wartime, turned 70 years old.  During his lecture, Col. Bagwell will examine a number of pressing and provocative questions surrounding the Conventions and their relevance in a world where armed conflicts are being waged predominantly by non-State entities, rather than by governments. The lecture will address questions such as, do these groups honor the rules of war found in the Geneva Conventions? Should U.S. military forces comply with the rules of war when the other side doesn’t? Have limitations, such as the prohibition of torture, run their course? Who decided that the rules of war found in the Geneva Conventions should apply to the U.S.? Do these rules really reflect American values or are they European rules designed to make the U.S. weaker?

Col. Bagwell is the senior director of international services for U.S programs at the American Red Cross, in which he is responsible for the dissemination of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) throughout the United States.  Prior to joining the Red Cross in 2018, he served for more than 35 years as an infantry officer and as a legal advisor for the United States Army, during which he was deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. Col. Bagwell has dedicated his career to teaching IHL to soldiers, commanders, and the public in more than 20 countries.  He has served as the dean of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, VA, and has taught IHL at the U.S. Naval War College, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, and the NATO School.  

Additionally, Col. Bagwell has testified twice before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives on IHL-related issues.  In his nearly four decades of combined active duty, Army Reserve, and National Guard service, he has been awarded the Legion of Merit four times, and has received the Bronze Star for meritorious service three times.

This lecture is the Fourth Annual Grall Neafsey Lecture, a series that promotes conversations about peace and conflict in the modern world. It is co-sponsored by the Ecumenical Institute at Assumption.  

The lecture is free and open to the public.  For more information, please contact Prof. Christian Gobel, cgobel@assumption.edu.