Commodore Geneviève Bernatchez, OMM, CD
Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces
Commodore Bernatchez was appointed as the fifteenth Judge Advocate General on June 27th, 2017. She acts as legal adviser to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces in matters relating to military law. Her responsibilities also include the superintendence of the administration of military justice in the Canadian Armed Forces. She has the privilege to lead the members of the Office of the Judge Advocate General, a dedicated team of Regular and Reserve Force legal officers, senior non-commissioned officers and civilian personnel who deliver legal services across the full spectrum of military law, in Canada and abroad.
A native of Gaspé (Québec), Commodore Bernatchez enrolled in the Canadian Naval Reserve in 1987 at Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship DONNACONA (Montréal). She was awarded her Bridge Watchkeeping Certificate as a Maritime Surface Officer at a time when the Navy was introducing women to combat arms. During her ten years with the Naval Reserve, she proudly served in a variety of command, training and staff positions.
In 1997, Commodore Bernatchez transferred to the Regular Force and joined the Office of the Judge Advocate General. Her career with the Office reflects diverse appointments and responsibilities involving the provision of legal advice and services in the areas of operational, military justice and administrative law. She has also been the Special Assistant to two successive Judge Advocate General and has worked with the Department of Justice Canada as Deputy Legal Advisor (Military) and Director of Legal Advisory Services.
Commodore Bernatchez deployed with the Canadian Forces Air Component during the Kosovo conflict in 1999, and was involved in the oversight, coordination and provision of legal services to Canadian Armed Forces expeditionary and domestic operations from 2000 to 2005. Upon promotion to the rank of Captain (Navy) in 2010, she was the Deputy Judge Advocate General for Operations. As such, she was the senior legal officer responsible for the provision of operational and international legal advice and services to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces during a period of exceptionally high operational tempo that included contributing to international peace and security through missions in Afghanistan and Libya, defending North America in conjunction with the United States, supporting major national events such as the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver as well as responding to natural disasters in Canada and abroad. It is also during that time that she co-authored the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare (the “Tallinn Manual”, Cambridge University Press, 2013), the first published manual on the legal framework supporting cyber conflicts.
From 2012 to 2014, Commodore Bernatchez was the Chief of Staff to the Judge Advocate General and led the delivery of corporate services and policy development in a challenging time of change and renewal. In the summer of 2014, she took on the responsibilities of Deputy Judge Advocate General for Regional Services where she oversaw the delivery of legal advisory services across the full spectrum of military law in support of the Canadian Armed Forces’ chain of command in North America and Europe.
Commodore Bernatchez holds a Masters of International Legal Studies degree, with a specialization in National Security Law, from Georgetown University (Washington D.C.), a Bachelor of Laws from the Université de Montréal and a Diplôme d’Études Collégiales in Administration from the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf (Montréal). She has been a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1993.
She and her husband are proud parents to a son and a daughter. As Geneviève’s professional responsibilities have increased over the years, so has her appreciation for simple things like spending time with her family and friends and giving back to the community through her volunteer work.
Date biography modified: 2019-08-20
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