The Law and Future of War Research Group at the University of Queensland is inviting abstracts on the topic of ‘Emerging Technologies and Domestic Military Law: Comparative Views on Principles, Policies and Practice’.

Over the past 50 years, the development of technological solutions for military problems around the world has vastly increased in scope and scale. Autonomous weapons – once considered purely a tool of science fiction – are now routine topics of discussion among military commanders and members of Defence industry. Novel applications of ancillary technologies, such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, present both unique threats and opportunities when viewed in the military context. The laws that affect these technologies are also not confined to those members serving in the armed forces; instead, such laws can and do have much broader implications for all of society.

However, the law appears to be lagging the technology in several areas. Nowhere is this more evident than military law: the domain of domestic laws that regulate and shapes how, where and under what circumstances a country’s military forces and their highly specialised capabilities might be deployed, utilised, and held to account.

Call for Contributions

We invite the submission of contributions that will foster a dialogue of comparison and assessment of different domestic law arrangements that confront military technologies. Is the approach of any one domestic jurisdiction to the intersection of technology and military law better than another? If so, why is this the case? If not, what lessons can be learned from the differing approaches of our cumulative jurisdictions? What works, and what doesn’t, when we consider the effect of technologies on military law?

The workshop will result in a series of papers to feature in a peer-reviewed edited book that addresses how the domestic law of various jurisdictions is being challenged by military technology, and how that law has had to adapt to service a military or defence aspect of society. By examining some of these comparisons in detail, we intend to identify how each jurisdiction approaches the regulation, legality, or discipline of its military forces in the face of new and novel technological developments.

By necessity, contributions should clearly articulate a definite link to a domain of military law and some form of technology or technological innovation. As the workshop will focus on comparative analysis of domestic laws, contributors should avoid reliance on international humanitarian law.

Contributions could, for instance, address the following aspects: 

  • Exploring how different jurisdictions transparently and investigate allegations of impropriety by armed forces where that conduct is classified, or how classified evidence is rendered admissible and comprehensible for a court or courts martial;
  • Comparing how manufacturers of advanced military technology may be liable or protected from criminal offences under domestic law;
  • Considering the need for new laws to curtail or restrict unlawful use of new technological discoveries by military members; alternately, suggesting new legal protections for soldiers from liability where technology has been used in “good faith”;
  • Prompting discussion on how technologies may be “blurring lines” or para-militarising law enforcement agents and organisations;
  • Identifying the conditions for legally compliant deployment of autonomous weapons under domestic legislation;
  • Discussing how contemporary domestic laws around human rights protections (such as privacy) might apply in a battlespace or contested environment.

Timeline and Organisation

Abstracts of 300‐600 words should be submitted, together with a 300-word bio paragraph of the author(s), by 1 July 2022. Please send a submission in PDF or Word format stating ‘Military Law Workshop 2022’ in the subject line to

Selected contributors will be notified by 15 July 2022 and asked to prepare brief 10-minute presentations for the workshop on 30 September 2022. The one‐day workshop will feature six to eight presentations, with opportunity for Q&A from both a panel and other workshop participants. The workshop will also serve as a ground for networking and forming partnerships for future research.

After the workshop, contributors should be prepared to submit draft papers of 5,000‐8,000 words by 31 March 2023. The final volume is expected to be submitted by mid-2023.

The workshop has no registration fee. However, participants will be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs if they attend in person. Remote participation (via Zoom) will also be available.

About Conferences and workshops

Conferences and workshops hosted by UQ Law.