The military is one of the most eager users of new technology. The armed forces of developed countries quickly adapt for their purposes advances in general scientific knowledge and engineering, whether it be nuclear fission or velcro. Some armed forces fund significant research and development projects, which sometimes have major spill-over effects to the society at large, as, for example, with computer networks or satellite navigation systems. But new technologies generate governance problems. Such problems have particular urgency when these technologies are used by the military for offensive purposes.
PREMT researchers investigate the legal, ethical and social issues that arise from novel applications of science and technology in the military context. We consider problems that are specific to particular technologies, as well as questions that relate to technological change more broadly. A particular focus of our research is the law of armed conflict (international humanitarian law), arms control and disarmament law, and human rights law.
The current director of PREMT is Rain Liivoja.
PREMT members are engaged in research along multiple avenues. Some of these consider issues across multiple scientific or technological domains:
- regulation of technology generally (Chris Dent)
- general legal framework for regulating new military technologies (Ian Henderson, Rain Liivoja, Tim McCormack)
- implications of technological change for political and social systems (RE Burnett)
- disarmament and arms control (Rain Liivoja, Bob Mathews)
- legal review of new weapons, means and methods of warfare (Damian Copeland, Natalia Jevglevskaja)
Other research projects focus on the legal, ethical and social implications of particular applications of technology in the military context:
- autonomous weapon systems (Jai Galliott, Chris Jenks, Rain Liivoja, Kaja Kowalczewska, Tim McFarland, Natalie Nunn)
- biometric technologies (Angus Willoughby)
- biotechnology (Regina Crameri, Rain Liivoja, Angus Willoughby)
- cyber operations (Luke Chircop, Monique Cormier, Samuli Haataja, Tim McCormack)
- nanotechnology (Kobi Leins)
PREMT partners with other institutions, especially when organising events:
- Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law, University of Melbourne
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland