5th Annual Euro-ISME Conference 2015


“Enduring and Contemporary Ethical Challenges for Military Leaders”

Conference Report


This year, more than 70 ISME members and interested participants representing different fields of science, politics and armed forces gathered for Euro-ISME’s annual conference. After the Defence Academies and Leadership Training Centres of France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany, the conference was hosted for the first time by a country which is not a member state of the European Union : The Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces had offered to co-organize the meeting with the Military Academy in Belgrade as venue.

On behalf of the host, the participants were addressed by the Head of the Military Academy, Major General Goran Zekovic, who stressed the importance of military ethics in the education and life of every officer. According to him, each future senior member of the military must master the basic concepts of morality and ethics, understand the matter of applied ethics and professional military ethics in order to develop necessary capabilities for moral judgment and to be capable to apply the acquired knowledge in crises and in war.

With its modern conference infrastructure, including media technology of high standard, and located close to the city-centre, the venue was extremely attractive for visitors from all over the world. Thus, the rich program was not limited exclusively to lectures and discussions but also included historical-cultural excursions and a river cruise on the Danube and Sava in the shadow of the Belgrade Fortress “Beogradska tvrđava” and around the “Great War Island Veliko ratno ostrvo“.

Opening address of the President

” First of all I would like to sincerely thank Major General Goran Zekovic, the Head of the Military Academy, for those kind words of welcome. On behalf of all members of the Euro-ISME Association, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the significant investment and work that has gone into organising this convention. The preparation and organization was of first class and it is only the team’s efficiency that has allowed us to be here today.

I also wish to extend my sincere thanks to all participants who have made the commitment to attend this conference, especially those that are here for the first time, and it is an honour to be able to share our thoughts and experiences with such an esteemed audience. I have no doubt that our discussions will be rich and rewarding.

Please allow me to take up a few more minutes of your time to introduce the main theme of the conference “Ethics in Military leadership –[and] Enduring and contemporary Ethical Challenges for Military Leaders”. I therefor would like to share a few of my own thoughts with you that I hope will help initiate the discussion and stimulate debate.
After over thirty five years of service in uniform and experience in military ethics I have come to two conclusions about the topic… please read the whole Opening Address

Conference Items

The participants were also addressed by the Rector of the Defence University, Major General Mladen Vuruna, who reminded them that, although it had been implemented relatively recently as a subject, military ethics represents a part of the education of every Serbian officer from the first day of the Military Academy. He stressed that the military profession is an honourable one, and that the Military Academy motto “Honour is our property” is the best proof that Serbian officers are aware of this.

The “Opening Session” was than completed by the presentation of the recently published 1st Volume of the Euro-ISME Book Series on “International Studies in Military Ethics”, co-edited by Euro-ISME vice-president Dr. David Whetham and his colleague Dr. Bradley Strawser from US-ISME. The volume is entitled “Responsibilities to Protect – Perspectives in Theory and Practice” and it brings together chapters by international scholars and practitioners who addressed these
concerns, that international initiatives have also practical implications, during the 2nd Annual Conference in 2012 in Shrivenham.

After this memorable prelude, the participants continued in various plenary and parallel sessions to discuss theoretical and scientific issues related to use of military force as well as questions of methodology and practical decision-making mechanisms for conflict situations with ethical implications.

The participants from around the world – representatives from more than 20 countries had travelled to the 5th Euro-ISME Annual Conference – tackled their different concepts of Military Leadership in a very dense series of plenary lectures and workshop discussions. The traditional relations of military cooperation that the Serbian Armed Forces established with its neighbouring countries in Southeast and Central Europe allowed us to expand the expertise available and to include for the first time the views of participants from Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Greece, and even from China.

A culture of open networking among academics experts and military practitioners guaranteed for an excellentworking atmosphere. Euro-ISME Vice-president Dr. David Whetham and Colonel Dr. Ilija Kajtez from the Military Academy concluded with justified satisfaction: “Due to the complex relationships that different countries represented within Euro-ISME currently maintain with each others, it did not pass without comment that the annual meeting was held at the Military Academy in Belgrade. However, we were received with a warm welcome and generous support. So the best conditions for an open, standing on a high academic level exchanges were again this year achieved”.

The refined contributions to the conference will be consolidated by the end of the year and published in a conference volume of the Euro-ISME book series. Manuscripts can be submitted until the 15th of September 2015. Guidelines for Manuscripts are available here.

The meeting again also provided the opportunity to hold “the Ordinary General Assembly”. The members unanimously approved the annual reports of the chairman and of the treasurer and they re-elected those members of the Board of Directors, for whom the election term had expired. Take note of the Minutes of the GA here..

The 6th Annual Euro-ISME Conference will be organised from 23rd to 25th of May 2016 at the „Norwegian Defence Academy“ in Oslo.

Programm of the 5th Annual Euro-ISME Conference

Cover of Volume 1 of Euro-ISME Book Series

Press Release 5.Euro-ISME Conference

Press Release Zebis 5.Euro-ISME Conference