Dr Rob McLaughlin

UNSW Canberra (Australian Defence Force Academy)

Dr Rob McLaughlin is Professor of Military and Security Law, and Director of the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society, at UNSW Canberra (Australian Defence Force Academy). Prior to this he served for more than twenty years in the Royal Australian Navy as a Seaman and Legal officer, then as the Head of the UNODC Maritime Crime Program (2012–14), and as an Associate Professor in the College of Law at Australian National University (2012–17).


  • Naval robots and rescue

    The development of unmanned systems (UMS) for naval combat poses a profound challenge to existing conventions regarding the treatment of the shipwrecked and wounded in war at sea. Article 18 of the 1949 Geneva Convention II states that warring parties are required to take "all possible measures" to search for and collect seamen left in the water after each engagement. The authors of the present paper analyze the ethical basis of this convention and argue that the international community should demand that UMS intended for roles in war at sea be provided with the capacity to make some contribution to search and rescue operations.

  • Authorizations for maritime law enforcement operations

    Although there are areas of uncertainty and overlap, authorizations for maritime law enforcement operations are beholden to a different regime from that which governs the conduct of armed conflict at sea. This article seeks to briefly describe five regularly employed authorizations for maritime law enforcement operations at sea: flag State consent, agreed pre-authorization, coastal State jurisdiction, UN Security Council resolutions, and the right of visit.