Featuring an essay on “Developing Norms for Cyber Conflict” by INSCT Director William C. Banks, the Research Handbook on Remote Warfare, edited by Cornell Law School Vice Dean Jens David Ohlin, has been published by Edward Elgar Publishing.
The handbook (also offered as an e-book) is described as an essential read for academics and students of jus ad bellum, national security law, international humanitarian law, human rights, and modern warfare techniques and the complex legal issues they create.
Essays examine how the practice of armed conflict has changed radically in the last decade and addresses in particular the legal implications of remote warfare and its significance for combatants, civilians, policymakers, and international lawyers.
Primarily focused on the legality of targeted killings by drones, cyber attacks, and autonomous weapons, chapters offer compelling insights, challenge assumptions, and give a variety of international perspectives on the use of force, humanitarian law, criminal law, and human rights law. Suggestions are made for the future development of law to control the limits of modern remote warfare, with a particular focus on the possibility of autonomous weapons.
In his essay, Banks reviews the state of the law when it comes to disruptive intrusions—cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, for instance—by state and non-state actors and the complexity of creating a “more fully-formed international law” of cyber conflict and even cyber warfare.
Writes Banks, “Developing an international consensus on the norms for cyber conflict will not be easy. The state of doctrinal international law is only partly to blame. At least as important as constraints are the political differences among states and non-state actors in shaping cyber norms. In addition, the facts needed to make the normative judgments in this fast-paced
realm of changing technologies are now and will be for the foreseeable future hard to come by and even more difficult to verify. Law will play catch up, as it should, but the lag between evolving technologies and normative stability in cyber operations may be a long one.”
In his review of the handbook, the University of Exeter’s Michael Schmitt observes that, “Professor Ohlin has brought together a diverse group of talented scholars and practitioners to assess drones, cyber operations, and autonomous systems from a completely novel perspective—remoteness. In doing so, he and his team shed new and important light on topics that lie at the heart of future conflict. Additionally, by focusing on remoteness, this handbook breaks loose from the intellectual stove-piping that characterizes our often-predictable assessments of emergent methods and means of warfare. It yields valuable insights into a characteristic of weaponry and tactics that will increasingly define warfare in the decades to come. It is a must-read for anyone concerned with international law in the battlespace.”