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Law and the Future of War
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Law and the Future of War

Author: UQ Law and the Future of War

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Through conversation with experts in technology, law and military affairs, this series explores how new military technology and international law interact. Edited and poduced by Dr Lauren Sanders at The University of Queensland School of Law.

88 Episodes
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In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Associate Professor Rain Liivoja on how the law of armed conflict deals with new technology. The conversation includes an overview of how international law regulates war and the role of pragmatism in the development of this law. They discuss some of the key points in the history of the law of armed conflict and some contemporary challenges, including autonomy in weapons, human enhancement and cyber operations.Rain Liivoja is an Associate Professor...
In this episode, Isabelle Peart talks with Dr Eve Massingham about the operation of weapons law in armed conflict. They talk about the definition of a 'weapon', and how international law regulates them in two ways: prohibitions on specific weapons, and general prohibitions covering weapons that have certain effects. They also talk about the role that the idea of 'humanity' plays in the law of war, . Dr Eve Massingham is a Senior Research Fellow with the School of Law, The University of Queens...
In this episode Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Dr Anna Hood and Dr Monique Cormier to discuss the attempt to ban the most destructive weapons in the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. They talk about how the treaty works, who has signed up, and the value of the treaty given that no nuclear weapon states have signed up. They also explore its history, and how it connects to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.Australia did not participate in the negotiations for the Nuclear Ban Treaty and has not becom...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie is joined by Dr Eve Massingham and Associate Professor Rain Liivoja to grapple with the findings of the Brereton Report. The report is shocking: it found credible evidence of 39 murders of civilians and prisoners by, or on the instructions of, members of the Australian special forces which were then covered up. Simon, Eve and Rain talk about the context of the Report and the allegations, and the potential consequences for the individuals who allegedly ...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Dr Tim McFarland about autonomy in weapons systems: what it is, why it is important, and how it should be understood for the purpose of the law of armed conflict. They talk about the meaning of 'autonomy', and how the concept is used in the context of weapons systems, and what gets lost in debate about their morality and legality. They also discuss some of the legal principles that are particularly important, including distinction, proportionality...
In this episode, Dr Eve Massingham talks to Professor Jason Scholz and Associate Professor Simon Ng about the development of new military technology. They talk about the key areas of current investments, how the game is changing, and where the future might take us. They also discuss the recent investments Australia has made into autonomous systems, and explain some of the strategic calculations behind this effort.Professor Jason Scholz is the CEO of the Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Coop...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Dr Natalia Jevglevskaja about the obligation to review new weapons found in Article 36 of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions. They discuss what the weapons review obligation requires, the kinds of technologies it applies to, and the different approaches states take to fulfilling the obligation. They also discuss some of its limitations and the challenges posed by recent developments in machine processing and artificial intelligence.Dr...
In this episode, Dr Rain Liivoja talks to Professor Michael Schmitt about the Tallinn Manuals on the law applicable to cyber operations. They discuss the impetus for the manuals, their drafting process, some of the main findings and the reception by states and scholars. They also talk about the plans for Tallinn Manual 3.0.Professor Michael N Schmitt is Professor of International Law at the University of Reading. He is also Senior Fellow at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excelle...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Rhiannon Neilsen and Karine Pontbriand on the role of militaries in defending against cyber operations. They argue that the vulnerability of critical infrastructure of many States to cyber operations - particularly due to privatisation - means that militaries need to step up their contribution to cyber defence. They talk about why NATO militaries are reluctant to do this, the basis for this position, and why it is problematic. Rhiannon Neils...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Dr Samuli Haataja about countermeasures in cyberspace. The right to countermeasures is a mechanism in international law that allows States to take action when they have suffered an international wrong. Some of features of cyberspace challenge this well-established body of rules, and it may need to change to ensure States have an effective remedy to deter foreign cyber attacks. Samuli researches the public international law aspects of cybersecurity...
In this episode, Dr Eve Massingham talks with Dr Cordula Droege about some of the challenges new technologies pose to international humanitarian law. They discuss nuclear weapons, autonomous weapons systems, cyber operations, and the importance of carrying out weapon reviews. They also consider some of the uses of technology for humanitarian purposes, including the rewards and risks of using biometric data.Dr Cordula Droege is the chief legal officer and head of the legal division of the ICRC...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Julia Sluspka about how the metaphors we use to understand cyberspace impact on how we imagine it should be regulated. They discuss the ways in which the conceptualisation of cyberspace is contested. Is it like spatial territory? Are states engaged in cyber war? Or is it like an ecosystem, or infrastructure? The metaphor we adopt frames the problems we see and the solutions we arrive at. Julia Slupska is a doctoral student at the Centre for D...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Associate Professor Emily Crawford about the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques – known as the ENMOD Convention. This Convention – adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1976 and ratified by 78 States – prohibits weaponising the natural environment against other State parties. However, the technology it regulates – the artificial creation of natural phenomena like earthquakes,...
In this episode, Dr Eve Massingham talks with Dr Simon McKenzie to talk about how some of the fundamental categories of IHL are challenged by cyber operations. In particular, the concepts of ‘objects’ and ‘attacks’, with their apparent focus on physicality, are hard to fit with the intangible elements of cyberspace. They explore this issue by considering whether ‘data’ can be thought of as an object for the purposes of IHL, and why is important. Simon McKenzie is a Research Fellow at the Univ...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Scott Wilkie about the infrastructure of the internet. They discuss how we should think about its physical and software components, and why getting the framing right is key to regulating it. They also address what sort of interventions should be made by Governments, including if and how the military should be involved in cyber defence.Scott Wilkie is a former investment banker, founder of technology companies and advisor to governments on their cy...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Professor Ryan Ko about the prospects and risks of cyber autonomy. Programs and systems are being developed that automate cyber defence, allowing them to self-discover, prove and correct software vulnerabilities at real-time. Some are even capable of doing more than defending, but can also attack other systems in the computer network, all without direct human oversight.Professor Ryan Ko is Chair and Director of Cyber Security at the University of ...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie is joined by Professor Rob McLaughlin, Dr Tamsin Paige and Associate Professor Douglas Guilfoyle to talk about the application of the law of armed conflict to submarine cables. These cables carry information crucial for national security. They are an essential part of the link between overseas embassies and their capital, not to mention military bases and operations with their commanders. In fact, there is almost no part of modern life that they do not in so...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Michael O'Hanlon about forecasting what the future of military technology holds, and the conflicts should we be planning for or trying to avoid. The speed of technological development and digital transformation makes this job harder than ever. They discuss how he thinks out what the future holds – both technologically and strategically – over the next 20 years and how to prepare for it. Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow and director of rese...
In this episode, Dr Eve Massingham talks with Professor Dale Stephens CSM about law and war in outer space. They discuss the legal regime for outer space, what it says about military activities and how developments in technology are impacting these. They specifically discuss autonomy in space – both in relation to weapons and other activities such as the extraction of space debris, consider the legal liability regime for launching objects into space and contemplate the challenges of infrastru...
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Maaike Verbruggen about how history can help us grapple with new military technologies. They talk about developments in AI, human-machine teaming and swarming capabilities and try to work through what can be taken from the histories of arms control and technology to help us understand our current situation.Maaike Verbruggen is a historian & sociologist, who now works on the politics of future technology. She is currently a doctoral researcher ...
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