The laws of war today: challenges and developments

Date & time
5.30–7pm Wednesday 14 September 2016

Seminar Room 2.02, Sir Roland Wilson Building, (Building 120), McCoy Circuit, ANU campus, Canberra.

Ian Clark, NTU Singapore
Rob McLaughlin, ANU College of Law


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.

Bell School

Presented by Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs

Destroyed Syrian tanks

Constraining the worst excesses of war has never been more necessary. From the bombing of civilian populations in Syria, to the murky legal terrain of drone warfare, to the continued threat of a devastating nuclear exchange, the role of the laws of war remains central to issues of peace and justice in world politics.

But how should we characterise the state of the laws of war today? Does the bombing of hospitals and the targeting of civilians mean that the protection of civilians in armed conflict is more of an aspiration than a reality? How is the return to focussing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war shaping contemporary disarmament diplomacy? Is it possible to constrain the conduct of war in an era of autonomous weapons? Is the international community prepared to act in the face of violations of these laws and if so, how should this be done?

The panel of speakers will discuss both the most pressing challenges to implementing and protecting the laws of war but also where the most promising developments for further progress in this area look likely to be in the years ahead. Combining legal, historical and policy expertise, the panel will consider what can be done in practical terms by governments, NGOs and individuals to build support for the laws of war and their effective implementation.


  • Ian Clark »

    was, until 2014, the E. H. Carr Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University, UK, and since then has been Professor of International Relations at the University of Queensland and Visiting Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU, Singapore. His most recent book is Waging War: A New Philosophical Introduction (OUP, 2015).

  • Tara Gutman »

    is Legal Adviser and Government Relations in the International Humanitarian Law Department at Australian Red Cross. Her role is concerned with supporting the Australian government to respect and promote IHL. Tara’s previous roles include legal consultant to the Khmer Rouge Trials Taskforce, Visiting Professional at the ICC and Visiting Scholar at George Washington University. She has recently published on domestic Cambodian genocide trials in K. Sellers, ed., Trials for International Crimes in Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

  • Robert McLaughlin »

    is an Associate Professor in the College of Law and Associate Director of the Centre for Military and Security Law at the ANU. His work focuses on the law of armed conflict, law of the sea, maritime security law and maritime law enforcement, and military law. He is the co-editor (with Hitoshi Nasu) of New Technologies and the Law of Armed Conflict (Springer, 2014).

  • Cecilia Jacob »

    is a Research Fellow in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, at the ANU. Her work focuses on civilian protection, internal conflict and political violence in South and Southeast Asia, and international norms of sovereign responsibility and protection. Her latest book (edited with Alistair D. B. Cook) is Civilian Protection in the Twenty-First Century: Governance and Responsibility in a Fragmented World (Oxford University Press, 2016).



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