International Law & Military Operations (InterMil)
InterMil conducts strategic research and provides research-based public-sector consultancy within the field of military studies. In collaboration with the Centre for Military Studies and the Royal Danish Defence College, the InterMil team examines questions of international law of particular relevance for the Danish Defence and Danish decision makers. All of InterMil’s activities are governed by the UCPH’s rules and guidelines for independent research and good scientific practice.
Background: In 2019, the Faculty of Law (in collaboration with the Royal Danish Defence College) entered into an agreement with the Centre for Military Studies, UCPH on strategic research and research-based public-sector consultancy within the field of military studies (1.8 mio DKK pr. year for 5 years). The agreement is part of the implementation of the Danish Defence Budget 2018-2023, which calls for an “increased focus on the challenges to international law associated with participation in international operations, cyber, drones and high tech and electronic warfare”.
1. International law and cyber operations below the threshold of warfare
The cyber domain has increasingly become a major arena for hostile interactions between states. While most conflicts in this arena fall short of warfare, they nevertheless pose a significant challenge and carry the potential of creating major financial, political, and security problems, especially for smaller, technologically advanced states like Denmark. In recent years, we have seen multiple instances of foreign interference in national elections by use of cyber means, and we continue to see significant activity in the realm of cyber espionage. Accordingly, states like Denmark need to consider how best to approach such problems, and how to deal with potential conflicts in the cyber domain. Denmark also needs to assess how to counter hostile efforts in this domain while remaining within the boundaries of international law.
- Countermeasures in Cyberspace: The International Legal Framework, Marc Schack & Astrid Kjeldgaard-Pedersen, August 2020
2. State responsibility in partnered operations
Many states, including Denmark, currently participate in international cooperation, which entails the risk of a number of states jointly violating international law, or of one state contributing to a breach of international law committed by other states. Questions concerning the division of state responsibility under international law become relevant, not least, when Danish forces participate in international military operations. Under this research theme, InterMil will follow the development of the international legal norms governing state responsibility, covering both collaboration between states and collaboration between a state and non-state actors.
3. New military technology
Under this heading, InterMil will examine a number of international legal challenges that arise from the development of new, advanced military technology, which in many respects differ substantially from more conventional weapons. This research theme will inter alia examine how the existing weapons and arms control regimes apply to new kinds of weapons, such as autonomous weapons systems, cyber weapons, and electronic weapons, and assess the prospect of new international legal norms tailored to govern such new kinds of weapons. Among the pressing issues is how the duty to conduct reviews of weapons according to Article 36 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions applies vis-à-vis autonomous weapons systems and cyber weapons.
4. Military operations at sea
Denmark’s active participation in a number of international military operations at sea during the past two decades has raised a number of international legal questions. The interplay between e.g. the Law of the Sea, International Human Rights Law, and International Humanitarian Law provides for a complex legal framework, and new challenges regularly arise due to developments in state practice and new technologies (e.g. unmanned an autonomous maritime systems) as well as changing threats and commercial interests. InterMil will study the possibilities and challenges in relation to different kinds of military operations at sea, which arise from the dynamic, ongoing development of the international legal norms governing this area.
- Countermeasures in Cyberspace: The International Legal Framework, Marc Schack & Astrid Kjeldgaard-Pedersen
As a part of the InterMil project, the Faculty of Law and the Royal Danish Defence College will host a number of conferences, workshops and seminars. Upcoming events will be announced here and on Faculty calendar
The InterMil team organizes International Law Breakfast Briefings with a view to providing an opportunity for researchers, practitioners and students with an interest in international law to meet on a regular basis and exchange research, experience and views. For more information and an updated program of the International Law Breakfast briefing.
PI Professor with special responsibilities
South Campus, Building: 6B.4.27
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
Phone: +45 35 33 38 79
Questions about the InterMil project can be addressed to: