In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Dr Lauren Sanders about the practical application of one of the most interesting legal obligations of international humanitarian law: the obligation to take precautions in attack. This obligation requires attackers to take “all feasible precautions” to minimise incidental loss and harm to civilian life – but what it means in practice can be hard to understand. When is a precaution feasible? How does this obligation sit alongside the permissive character of military necessity?
Dr Lauren Sanders is a Senior Research Fellow at the UQ School of Law, and she researches the legal constraints on the arms trade in military technology, as well as international criminal law, IHL, and counter-terrorism law. Before returning to UQ, Lauren spent twenty years as an Australian Army signals officer and legal officer, and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor and on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and has been a legal advisor to ADF domestic counter-terrorism operations.
She is appearing on the show in her personal capacity, and the views she expresses do not reflect the official positions of the Australian Defence Force or Department of Defence.
In this episode, Dr Lauren Sanders talks with Dr Joshua Andresen about drones and aerial strikes, exploring whether they make armed conflict safer for civilians. Some claim that by allowing for the more precise use of force, drone strikes cause less harm to nearby civilian populations. Conversely, some point to the impact that making force more accessible in urban areas actually increases the likelihood that force will be used in and around civilians. Lauren and Joshua also consider whether IHL needs to adapt for the use of these technologies.
Dr Joshua Andresen is a Reader in National Security and Foreign Relations Law at the University of Surrey who has written extensively on the problems posed by the use of drone strikes in armed conflict and their regulation. His research focuses on the legal regulation of armed conflict in light of advanced weapons technology and the predominance of non-international armed conflicts.
He has held positions as a senior policy advisor in the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, and has worked at the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as Associate Professor of Philosophy at the American University of Beirut.
In this episode, Dr Lauren Sanders talks with Professor Ryan Abbott about the legal standards and challenges of integrating artificial intelligence into current legal regimes. They discuss his recent book, The Reasonable Robot, which traverses different areas of law and how they treat AI – whether incentivising or disincentivising technological development in AI – and what his theory of legal neutrality for artificial intelligence in law is and how it could work. They also cover his recent case in the Australian Federal Court dealing with recognition of AI as an inventor in patent applications.
Professor Abbott is a Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey and is highly regarded for his scholarship, teaching, and professional activities. He has published widely on issues associated with law and technology, health law, and intellectual property in leading legal, medical, and scientific books and journals. Professor Abbott has worked as a partner in legal practice, and he has been outside general counsel to life science companies. He has served as a consultant or expert for international organizations, academic institutions and non-profit enterprises including the United Kingdom Parliament, European Commission, World Health Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Professor Abbott is a licensed physician, attorney, and acupuncturist in the United States, as well as a solicitor advocate in England and Wales and has also worked as an expert witness which has included testifying in U.S. federal court.
In this episode, Dr Eve Massingham talks with Captain Jessie Dumont about the role of automation in space operations and the prospects of autonomous devices in space. They also touch on wargaming in space and some of the legal issues associated with using space for military purposes.
Captain Dumont is a Lecturer in the Department of Physics & Space Science at the Royal Military College of Canada. She recently returned from working at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. She worked as a member of 18 Space Control Squadron as an orbital analyst and maintained the space catalogue of debris and satellites.
This podcast reflects the personal view of Captain Jessie Dumont and does not represent the view of the Government of Canada.
In this episode, Dr Simon McKenzie talks with Dr Thibault Moulin about the international legal regulation of experiments on humans. These experiments test existing frameworks of international law, and they discuss the limits that international humanitarian law and international human rights law places on human enhancement and the experiments that bring them into being.
Dr Thibault Moulin is a Lecturer at the Catholic University of Lyon in France. His research focuses on the regulation of new technologies by international law, in particular cyber-operations and human enhancement. He holds a PhD in Law from the University of Manchester and a French Doctorate from the University of Grenoble-Alpes. He was also a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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 at the Center for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Brussels School of Governance at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her PhD thesis is on the drivers for and obstacles to military innovation in artificial intelligence, and she has broader interests in arms control, military innovation and emerging technologies. She previously worked at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on autonomous weapons and export controls.
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 infrastructure in space serving both military and civilian purposes.
Dr Dale Stephens is a Professor at Adelaide Law School and a Captain in the Royal Australian Navy Reserve who spent over 20 years as a permanent officer in the Royal Australian Navy. Dale’s legal and military career has seen him work on a range of military law and international law topics, as well as see operational military service in East Timor and Iraq. Dale is an Editor and Board Member of the forthcoming Woomera Manual of International Law of Military Space Operations and is widely published on the topic of space law.
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 research in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. He specializes in U.S. defense strategy, the use of military force, and American national security policy. He has several academic appointments, advisory positions and has written extensively on military technology, future conflicts, and the role of American power in the world.
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 some way support. Given their central importance, you might think that the legal categorisation and protection of submarine cables would be clear. But, this is far from the case – if, how and when these cables can be military objectives, and how the principle of proportionality might apply, is unclear.
Professor Rob McLaughlin of ANU researches, publishes, and teaches in the areas of Law of Armed Conflict, Law of the Sea, Maritime Security Law and Maritime Law Enforcement, and Military Law.
Dr Tamsin Paige is a Lecturer with Deakin Law School and consults for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in relation to Maritime Crime. Prior to this, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at UNSW Canberra @ ADFA. Her work is interdisciplinary in nature, using qualitative sociological methods to analyse international law.
Associate Professor Douglas Guilfoyle from UNSW Canberra researches maritime security, the international law of the sea, and international and transnational criminal law. Particular areas of specialism include maritime law-enforcement, the law of naval warfare, international courts and tribunals, and the history of international law.
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 Queensland and is also Deputy Head of School (External Engagement) at the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. His research in cyber security focuses on returning control of data to cloud computing users, reducing users' reliance on trusting third-parties and focusses on (1) provenance logging and reconstruction, traceability and (2) privacy-preserving data processing. Along with his academic research, he has advised companies and governments on managing cybersecurity risks.
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 cyber-secure capabilities. This has included cyber security governance and risk models, digital transformation, analytics, artificial intelligence, trust in a digital world and cloud computing. He is well known in Australia and across the Five Eyes for leading policy and strategy development for digital sovereignty and security of critical supply chains and infrastructure.
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 University of Queensland School of Law. Simon's current research focuses on the legal challenges connected with the defence and security applications of science and technology, with a particular focus on the impact of autonomous systems. His broader research and teaching interests include the law of armed conflict, international criminal law, and domestic criminal law.
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, cyclones, or tsunamis for hostile purposes – has never been developed or used. This technology is like something out of science fiction. This episode examines how this striking Convention came to be, what the drafters thought it might cover, and why they thought it was a useful new treaty for the law of war.
Emily Crawford is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Law School, where she teaches and researches in international law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. She has published widely in the field of international humanitarian law, including two monographs (The Treatment of Combatants and Insurgents under the Law of Armed Conflict (OUP 2010) and Identifying the Enemy: Civilian Participation in Hostilities (OUP 2015)) and a textbook (International Humanitarian Law (with Alison Pert, 2nd edition, CUP 2020)), and is currently working on her third monograph, on the impact of non-binding instruments in international humanitarian law. She is an associate of the Sydney Centre for International Law at the University of Sydney, and a co-editor of the Journal of International Humanitarian Studies.
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 Doctoral Training in Cybersecurity and the Oxford Internet Institute. Her research focuses on technologically-mediated abuse like image-based sexual abuse ('revenge porn') and stalking, as well as emotion, care and metaphors in 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, where she leads the ICRC’s efforts to uphold, implement and develop international humanitarian law. She joined the ICRC in 2005 and has held a number of positions in the field and at headquarter, including as head of the legal advisers to operations, and most recently as chief of staff to the President of the ICRC. She has some twenty years of experience in the field of international law, and in her earlier career worked for the International Commission of Jurists, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Max Planck Institute for International Law. She holds a law degree and a PhD from the University of Heidelberg and an LL.M from the London School of Economics.
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, and his book Cyber Attacks and International Law on the Use of Force: The Turn to Information Ethics was published by Routledge in 2019. He’s also a member of the IEEE Society on Society Implication of Technology.
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 Neilsen is a Scientia PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales. Her research interests include atrocity prevention, moral and political philosophy, cyberspace, and the Responsibility to Protect. In 2019, she was awarded the Barbara Hale Fellowship by the Australian Federation of Graduate Women to be a visiting doctoral student at the University of Oxford. Rhiannon has also been a visiting scholar at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (2019). Her published work has appeared in international journals, such as Ethics and International Affairs (2020), Terrorism and Political Violence (2019), and Genocide Studies and Prevention (2015).
Karine Pontbriand is a PhD Candidate in International Relations and Cyber Security at UNSW Canberra, and is a member of the Research Group on Cyber War and Peace. She is also a research fellow at the Research Group on Cyber Diplomacy and Cyber Security at the Montreal Institute of International Studies (IEIM). Before starting her doctoral studies, she worked as a policy analyst for Global Affairs Canada where she was focusing on the use of digital technology to advance Canada's foreign policy priorities. She has an undergraduate degree in International Relations and International Law and a master’s degree in International and Intercultural Communication (with Distinction, Highest Grade). Her main research interests are international cyber security, cyber diplomacy and cyber war and US-China cyber relations.
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 Excellence; Francis Lieber Distinguished Scholar at West Point’s Lieber Institute; Charles H Stockton Distinguished Scholar at the US Naval War College; Distinguished Scholar at the University of Texas’ Strass Center for International Security and Law; and Director of Legal Affairs for Cyber Law International. He directed the Tallinn Manual project from 2009–2017.
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 Natalia Jevglevskaja is a Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. Natalia’s research interests include law of armed conflict, human rights law and comparative law. Natalia has a PhD from the University of Melbourne, holds an LL.M in Public International Law from the University of Utrecht (2013), awarded with cum laude to mark outstanding achievement and completed her undergraduate studies in law at the University of Heidelberg (2011).
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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 Cooperative Research Centre. Prior to this role, Jason led research in cognitive psychology, decision aids, decision automation and autonomy, and the integration of human and machine decision-making within the Defence Science and Technology Group. He has over fifty refereed publications and several patents, covering research in telecommunications, digital signal processing, artificial intelligence and human decision making. He is passionate about the potential for machine learning based on neuroscience insights, human cognitive enhancement, anti-fragile organisations and is driven to achieve the transition of validated innovative technology and techniques into Defence.
Associate Professor Simon Ng is the Chief Engineer of the Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre. Prior to this, he led the Unmanned Aerial Systems Group within Defence Science and Technology Group’s Aerospace Division, exploring the role of autonomy in enhancing Defence capability and reducing risk in an increasingly complex operational environment. He has a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Engineering from Monash University and completed his Doctoral Thesis in 1998, studying mechanisms for ionic conduction in solid polymer electrolytes.
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 and the obligation to take precautions.
Dr Tim McFarland is a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland School of Law. His current research focuses on the legal challenges connected with the defence and security applications of science and technology, with a particular focus on the impact of autonomous systems. His broader research interests include the law of armed conflict and international criminal law. He is the author of Autonomous Weapon Systems and the Law of Armed Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2020).
For further readings, a basic primer on autonomy and autonomous weapons systems, and links to some further resources, are available on our website.
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 carried out these acts. They explain what war crimes are and how they differ from domestic crimes, the concept of command responsibility, and what the sentence for any conviction might be. They also how the Australian government might respond to the wrongdoing and ensure the Afghan victims receive justice.
Rain Liivoja is an Associate Professor at The University of Queensland Law School, where he leads the Law and the Future of War research group. Rain also holds the title of Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki, where he is affiliated with the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights.
Eve Massingham is a Senior Research Fellow at The University of Queensland Law School. Eve's current research focuses on the diverse ways in which the law constrains or enables autonomous functions of military platforms, systems and weapons. She is the co-editor of Ensuring Respect for International Humanitarian Law (Routledge, 2020) and she has published a number of book chapters and journal articles in the fields of international humanitarian law and international law and the use of force.
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 become a State party. They discuss why the rationale that has been given for this refusal, and explain what is meant by the "nuclear umbrella" and "extended nuclear deterrence," and how it relates to the joint military facility at Pine Gap and the ANZUS treaty.
Dr Anna Hood is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. Anna is a public international lawyer. She has a BA/LLB (hons) from the University of Melbourne, an LLM (International Legal Studies) from NYU and a PhD from the University of Melbourne. Anna's work focuses primarily on disarmament law, refugee law and issues concering New Zealand and international law. She also has a keen interest in legal education and the role of universities in the 21st century.
Dr Monique Cormier is a Lecturer at the University of New England. Monique has Bachelor of International Studies and Bachelor of Laws (hons) from the University of Adelaide, an LLM from Columbia University, and a PhD from the University of Melbourne. Monique's primary research interests are jurisdiction, defences and immunities in international criminal law and on legal issues relating to nuclear disarmament and extended nuclear deterrence.
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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 Queensland. Eve's current research focuses on the diverse ways in which the law constrains or enables autonomous functions of military platforms, systems and weapons. She is the co-editor of Ensuring Respect for International Humanitarian Law (Routledge, 2020) and she has published a number of book chapters and journal articles in the fields of international humanitarian law and international law and the use of force.
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 at the University of Queensland Law School, where he leads the Law and the Future of War research group. Rain also holds the title of Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki, where he is affiliated with the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights.
Links to further reading: