University of Essex
In this global study of military court systems, Kyle & Reiter bridge the prevalent academic divide between the legal and political study of military justice and democracy. Covering an impressive scope of 120 domestic military systems, the authors develop a framework to classify these on a scale from military overreach, through jurisdictional contestation, to full legal subordination of military legal powers to democratic civilian control. This classification enables subsequent statistical and theoretical analysis of the trends and factors which lead systems to slide in either direction, taking seven country studies as illustrations of such changes. The book is one of the first global studies of military justice systems, an important endeavour given current developments under international law and increasing scrutiny of military jurisdiction. Questions may be raised regarding the details of their framework, including the overarching impression given by the book that military justice systems are synonymous with impunity. Some nuances to this effect may have been lost due to the large scope covered. Furthermore, the (understandable) exclusion of extraterritorial jurisdiction from the scope of research raises interesting questions regarding the potentially different application of the legal subordination framework overseas. Nevertheless, the detailed case studies and conclusions are important within the context of military justice reforms worldwide, as they provide crucial academic policy consideration for the improvement of civil-military relations and enhancement of the rule of law within any court system. The research will be of use to academics, civil society, and policy researchers working in the field of military justice as well as transitional justice and provides a welcome cross-disciplinary analysis of a timely topic.