This volume provides an authoritative, cutting-edge resource on the characteristics of both technological and social change in warfare in the twenty-first century, and the challenges such change presents to international law.

The character of contemporary warfare has recently undergone significant transformation in several important respects: the nature of the actors, the changing technological capabilities available to them, and the sites and spaces in which war is fought. These changes have augmented the phenomenon of non-obvious warfare, making understanding warfare one of the key challenges. Such developments have been accompanied by significant flux and uncertainty in the international legal sphere. This handbook brings together a unique blend of expertise, combining scholars and practitioners in science and technology, international law, strategy and policy, in order properly to understand and identify the chief characteristics and features of a range of innovative developments, means and processes in the context of obvious and non-obvious warfare. The handbook has six thematic sections:

  • Law, war and technology
  • Cyber warfare
  • Autonomy, robotics and drones
  • Synthetic biology
  • New frontiers
  • International perspectives.

This interdisciplinary blend and the novel, rich and insightful contribution that it makes across various fields will make this volume a crucial research tool and guide for practitioners, scholars and students of war studies, security studies, technology and design, ethics, international relations and international law.

chapter 1|10 pages


Technological innovation, non-obvious warfare and challenges to international law
ByRachel Kerr

part I|1 pages

Law, war and technology

chapter 2|9 pages

Obvious and non-obvious

The changing character of warfare
ByErnst Dijxhoorn, James Gow

chapter 3|19 pages

Weapons law, weapon reviews and new technologies

ByBill Boothby

chapter 4|9 pages

A defence technologist’s view of international humanitarian law

ByTony Gillespie

chapter 5|13 pages

Can the law regulate the humanitarian effects of technologies?

ByBrian Rappert

part II|1 pages

Cyber warfare

chapter 6|11 pages

Computer network attacks under the jus ad bellum and the jus in bello

‘Armed’ – effects and consequences
ByElaine Korzak, James Gow

chapter 7|12 pages

Computer network attacks under the jus ad bellum and the jus in bello

Distinction, proportionality, ambiguity and attribution
ByElaine Korzak, James Gow

chapter 8|13 pages

Proportionality in cyber targeting

ByMarco Roscini

chapter 9|17 pages

Digital intelligence and armed conflict after Snowden

BySir David Omand

chapter 10|11 pages

The ambiguities of cyber security

Offence and the human factor
ByJames Gow

part III|1 pages

Autonomy, robotics and drones

chapter 11|10 pages

Autonomy of humans and robots

ByThrishantha Nanayakkara

chapter 12|13 pages

Autonomous agents and command responsibility

ByJack McDonald

chapter 13|15 pages

Legal-policy challenges of armed drones and autonomous weapon systems

ByKenneth Anderson, Matthew C. Waxman

chapter 14|13 pages

The ‘robots don’t rape’ controversy

ByMaziar Homayounnejad, Richard E. Overill

chapter 15|17 pages

Humanity and lethal robots

An engineering perspective
ByTony Gillespie

part IV|1 pages

Synthetic biology

chapter 17|22 pages

Synthetic biology and the categorical ban on bioweapons

ByFilippa Lentzos, Cecilie Hellestveit

chapter 18|14 pages

A threat assessment of biological weapons

Past, present and future
ByMatteo Bencic Habian

chapter 19|12 pages

The synthetic biology dilemma

Dual-use and the limits of academic freedom
ByGuglielmo Verdirame, Matteo Bencic Habian

part V|1 pages

New frontiers

chapter 20|15 pages

Space oddities

Law, war and the proliferation of spacepower
ByBleddyn Bowen

chapter 21|13 pages

Outer space and private companies

Consequences for global security
ByPaweł Frankowski

chapter 22|12 pages

Biometrics and human security

ByJames Gow, Georg Gassauer

chapter 23|12 pages

Future war crimes and the military (1)

Cyber warfare
ByJames Gow, Ernst Dijxhoorn

chapter 24|12 pages

Future war crimes and the military (2)

Autonomy and synthetic biology
ByJames Gow, Ernst Dijxhoorn

chapter 25|8 pages

Future war crimes and prosecution

Gathering digital evidence
ByMaziar Homayounnejad, Richard E. Overill, James Gow

part VI|1 pages

International perspectives

chapter 26|15 pages

Russian information warfare and its challenges to international law

ByOscar Jonsson

chapter 27|12 pages

Unconventional warfare and technological innovation in Islam

Ethics and legality
ByAriane Tabatabai

chapter 28|9 pages

Cyber security, cyber-deterrence and international law

The case of France
ByAnne-Marie le Gloannec, Fleur Richard-Tixier

chapter 29|6 pages

The US, the UK, Russia and China (1)

Regulating cyber attacks under international law – developments at the United Nations
ByElaine Korzak

chapter 30|9 pages

The US, the UK, Russia and China (2)

Regulating cyber attacks under international law – the potential for dedicated norms
ByElaine Korzak