EuroISME: The Future of Military Ethics

The International Society for Military Ethics in Europe (EuroISME) provides a forum for the analysis, development and sharing of best practice in the area of professional military ethics, across and beyond the European defence community. As the first organization in the area of professional military ethics where scientists, academic professors, and military practitioners come together, The International Society for Military Ethics (ISME) was established in 2005 as a non-profit organisation in the United States. In 2011, some European members and institutions decided to create a new chapter of ISME, based in Europe, focusing on the specific European approach. The Inaugural Conference on ‘Ethics and Alliances’ was held at the Ecole Militaire June 2011 in Paris. In January 2012, EuroISME was registered as a non-profit organisation under French law (association loi 1901).

EUROMIL participated several times in the annual conferences of EuroISME. Although EuroISME’s field of expertise is very specific, we have on several occasions identified interesting points of contact between the goals and areas of work of both our organisations. For this reason, the Board of EUROMIL decided in 2022 to become an Institutional Member of EuroISME.

2023 Annual Conference

In this capacity, the President of EUROMIL, Emmanuel Jacob, and Board member George Zgardanas participated in the annual conference of EuroISME in Athens (Greece) between 10 and 12 May, 2023. The 2023 conference was held at the Hellenic Air Force Academy, on the outskirts of Athens, entitled “The Future of Military Ethics”. Opening the conference, EuroISME’s President John Thomas emphasized that “over the next days we have the time to debate how human nature is likely to interact with emerging technologies, changes to the geopolitical landscape and where the next discontinuities might emerge”.

These topics were discussed during twenty panels and some key not addresses. EUROMIL’s President Emmanuel Jacob moderated a panel under the title “Making super soldiers”. During this 90 minutes debate, Prof.dr. Michael Gross (Israel) on “Super soldiers: why and what for?” and Dr. Blake Heredith (USA) “Child super soldiers” presented their work and papers.

Annual contest for the best European Masters thesis written on military ethics

Every year EuroISME organises an annual contest for the best European Masters thesis written on military ethics.[1] The first prize winner 2023 was Warrant Officer Sandra Maria Kürzinger from Germany. She has written on the issue of: “Provide medical care to the enemy? Emergency paramedics between medical ethics and military mission. An empirical survey of veterans.” Her thesis explores how emergency paramedics during their deployment abroad decide when they have to choose between their own colleague and the enemy combatant when caring for the wounded. In addition, her aim was to find out why they decide in the way they do (motive), as no empirical studies have been conducted in this area so far. It is an interdisciplinary study: the thesis explores international humanitarian law, the psychology of decision-making and ethics as a possible decision-making tool.

The winning author was able to evaluate 59 questionnaires filled out by emergency paramedics who have been deployed on a mission abroad at least once. All paramedics who responded have opted for the comrade if the wound was equally severe. In the case of a more severe wounding of the enemy, 25% of the emergency medical technicians chose to care for the comrade and 75% for the enemy. In the case of moderately unevenly severe wounds (loss of function of the legs of the comrade, life threat of the enemy), 87% chose the comrade and 13% the enemy.

On behalf of the jury, the laudation was spoken by Maj.Gen. Dr. Juan Moliner Gonzalez from Spain. He stated that Warrant Officer Kürzinger’s thesis contributes accurately to “… clarifying military medical ethics, offering a careful analysis of this concept, resulting in an interdisciplinary approach that includes medical ethics and military ethics, both two examples of applied ethics that must be distinguished from fundamental ethics. (…). This excellent thesis,” General Moliner continued, “discusses the possible causes of the difficult decision making for military medical and paramedical. Or putting it in questions words: Are they more physicians or warriors?”.

EUROMIL joins EuroISME in congratulating Sandra Maria Kürzinger with this prize.

The German-language original will be published on EuroISME’s website very soon, while translations into French and English are being made.

Meanwhile, those who belong to the target group, can apply for the 2024 edition of the EuroISME Prize. The deadline for submissions is 30 November 2023. The Fact Sheet and all relevant information can be downloaded in English, French and German via the dedicated page.

[1] The following article on the first prize winner has been published on EuroISME’s Linkedin page.

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