Law and War in the Virtual Era

TitleLaw and War in the Virtual Era
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBeard, Jack M.
JournalThe American Journal of International Law
Date Published07/2009

Unmanned aerial vehicles and other remotely controlled or "virtual" military technologies (i.e., those operated and controlled from a remote location) are refashioning the conduct of military operations, the functioning of military institutions, and even the objectives of war itself. Virtual technologies are unexpectedly and ironically giving unprecedented traction, transparency, and relevance to venerable jus in bello principles protecting civilians from the effects of hostilities, and are forcing states to confront revitalized and new duties to avoid causing harm to civilian populations. This article examines the way these virtual technologies are purposely expanding important military capabilities while unintentionally transforming modern military operations, military information resources, the structure of military organizations, and the role of lawyers within these organizations.

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