In July 2015, I gave a presentation on the international law aspects of drone warfare at St Athan in Wales. I focused primarily on the questions arising under the rules governing the use of force (jus ad bellum) and those governing the conduct of hostilities (IHL). One of the points I emphasized was that unmanned aerial vehicles are not unlawful weapons systems as such, a point which by now seems to be generally accepted. However, I also suggested that the actual use of these systems does raise a number of legal difficulties.
On 17 November 2014, we hosted a seminar on the crisis in the Ukraine. Adopting a familiar format, we discussed the legal and strategic aspects of recent developments with the help of two speakers. Dr Tamás Hoffmann of Corvinus University Budapest gave as an insight into the questions of international law raised by the internal turmoil in the country, the subsequent events in the Crimea and the current conflict raging in the Donbass region. We then turned to Dr Daniel Steed from our Strategy and Security Institute, who offered an overview of the bigger strategic picture and gave us a detailed local and regional forecast of the likely strategic developments.
On 26 September 2014, Parliament approved British military intervention in Iraq against Islamic State by 524 to 43 votes. The previous day, the Government published a summary of its legal position for military action, suggesting that the consent of Iraq ‘provides a clear and unequivocal legal basis for the deployment of UK forces and military assets to take military action to strike [Islamic State] sites and military strongholds in Iraq.’ On 6 October 2014, we convened a 'rapid reaction seminar' to offer some initial thoughts on the legal and strategic aspects of this development.
On 1 May 2014, Professor Michael N Schmitt delivered a seminar on 'Future War and the Evolution of IHL' at Exeter Law School. In his talk, Professor Schmitt offered his thoughts on the relationship between changes in the nature of warfare and the evolution of international humanitarian law. In particular, he asked how future warfare is likely to shape the interpretation and application of international humanitarian law, focusing on the effect of cyber operations, the fielding of autonomous weapon systems, and increased visibility of the battlespace. I had the pleasure of acting as a respondent.
Guest Lecture by Professor Mike Schmitt at Exeter Law School