"Bloodless weapons" ? : the need to conduct legal reviews of certain capabilities and the implications of defining them as "weapons"
Duncan Blake, Joseph S. Imburgia
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The air force law review, Vol. 66, 2010, p. 157-203
The legal review of new weapons, means or methods of warfare is considered a customary obligation of all states, yet the decision to conduct such a review of some advanced technology capabilities, such as those associated with the space and cyberspace domains, remains a difficult one. This article is divided into four main parts. The first section examines the phrase "weapons, means or methods of warfare" ; what effects, designs or intents must be considered ; and the contexts for review. Of note, this paper will not discuss how that review should occur or the appropriate format. The paper will next consider space and cyberspace capabilities in general, along with a representative sample of specific capabilities. These contexts will form an important foundation for the third part of the paper, which will discuss the thresholds for jus ad bellum concepts like "threat or use of force" and "armed attack", as well as the other implications of characterizing a capability as a "weapon, means or method of warfare" in armed conflict. The paper will also consider whether space and cyberspace capabilities may be characterized as "weapons, means or methods of warfare" in some circumstances but not others.
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