Kosal Speaks on Law of Armed Conflict and New Technology

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Nunn School Assistant Professor Margaret E. Kosal spoke last week in Canberra Australia on the challenges on nanotechnology, biotechnology, the cognitive neurosciences, and other emerging technologies for international law and security regimes.

Kosal was invited to be keynote speak at the inaugural workshop of the Centre for Military and Security Law on "The Law of Armed Conflict and New Technologies," which was held at the Australian National University (ANU) College of Law on 3 & 4 September 2012.

Modern technological developments have the potential to be fundamentally transformative of the means and methods of warfare and of the broader environment in which warfare is conducted. In some cases, technological development has been stimulated by, and dedicated directly to, addressing military requirements. On other occasions, technological developments outside the military sphere affect or inform the conduct of warfare and strategy. The application of computing and software innovations has led to major changes in the military operations of developed nations, in terms of both offensive and defensive capabilities. Satellite navigation and global positioning systems have enabled the use of precision-guided munitions and the remote operation of unmanned aerial vehicles. The development of biotechnology, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and cognitive neuroscience herald the potential to create enhanced or novel weapons applications to include but not limited to biological and chemical warfare agents. On a broader level, the rapid growth of nanotechnology across different fields - including fabrication, materials, photonics, biotechnology, and electronics - is expected to enable military applications designed to enhance soldier survivability, force protection, force mobility, and force application capabilities.

The introduction of these new technologies into modern warfare is expected to influence the application and interpretation of the existing rules of the law of armed conflict, including international security regimes like the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention and international humanitarian law like the Geneva Protocol.

At the workshop, internationally eminent scholars and emerging scholars working in this field will gather to discuss legal challenges arising from the use of those new technologies, and future directions of legal development in light of the specific characteristics and challenges each technology presents with regard to foreseeable humanitarian impacts upon the battle space. 

Kosal's participation was supported by the Australian Research Council as part of the project, “Developing Australia’s Legal Response to Military and Security Applications of Nanotechnology,” led by ANU's Professor Hitoshi Nasu.


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