Nanotechnology and the Law of Armed Conflict
New Technologies and the Law of Armed Conflict, (The Hague, TMC Asser, 2014, pp.143-157)
Posted: 9 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 8, 2014
Nanotechnology is a rapidly evolving field of science cutting across many disciplines including engineering, quantum physics, optics, chemistry and biology, and typically involves manipulation of matter on the atomic and molecular level in the size range of 1nm – 100nm (1nm = 10-9m) in one or more external dimensions. It enables, for example, the increased and tailored rate of energy release, the manipulation of optical properties, increased electrical conductivity, and improved hardness and strength with reduced weight, which can find useful applications for advanced military equipment and weaponry. The introduction of nanotechnology into weaponry is also expected to influence the application and interpretation of the law of armed conflict, raising the question as to whether the existing rules are sufficiently clear and adequate in light of the technology’s specific characteristics, as well as with regard to the foreseeable humanitarian impact it may have. This chapter revisits the rationale underlying the law of armed conflict and examines to what extent the problems arising from the use of nanotechnology-enhanced or enabled weapons could adequately be addressed within the current legal framework governing weaponry. To that end, this chapter focuses on the three enhanced capabilities that nanotechnology introduces to weaponry: (1) penetration; (2) accuracy and manipulation in the delivery of focused force application; and (3) camouflaging.
Keywords: Law of armed conflict, nanotechnology, thermobaric explosive, nano air vehicles, camouflaging
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation