Adjunct Staff

Professor Rob McLaughlin

BA (Hons) LLB (Hons) MA LLM MPhil PhD

Adjunct Professor


Rob McLaughlin is Professor of International Law at the Australian National Centre for Oceans Research and Security, Honorary Professor of Law at the Australian National University, Senior Fellow at the US Naval War College Stockton Centre for International Law, and Adjunct Professor at Charles Sturt University. Prior to taking up these appointments he was on the faculty of the College of Law at the Australian National University, and from 2012-2014 he served as the inaugural Head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Maritime Crime Program.

Before becoming an academic, Rob served in the Royal Australian Navy for several decades as both a Seaman officer and a Legal officer. He served in surface units and submarines, and deployed to East Timor, Iraq, and on maritime border protection operations. As a lawyer, he served as Fleet Legal Officer, the Strategic Legal Adviser, Director of the Naval Legal Service, and Director of Operations and International Law in the Department of Defence. In a reserve capacity he continues to serve as an Assistant Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force. He holds degrees in history, law, and international relations, and earned his PhD at Cambridge. His research areas are law of the sea, maritime law enforcement, the law of armed conflict, and national security law.


  • Law of the Sea and maritime law enforcement
  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • Military law

Professional Memberships

  • Member, Australian Red Cross National IHL Committee
  • Councillor, Australian Naval Institute



United Nations Peace Operations in the Territorial Sea, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 2009

Multinational Rules of Engagement Handbook, (with Alan Cole, Phillip Drew, and Dennis Mandsager) Institute for International Humanitarian Law (San Remo), 2009

New Technologies and the Law of Armed Conflict, (editors Hitoshi Nasu and Rob McLaughlin), Asser Press, The Hague, 2014

Handbook on the Use of Force for Private Security Companies (with Phillip Drew) 2016

The Legal Authority of ASEAN as a Security Institution (with Don Rothwell, Hitoshi Nasu, and See Seng tan), CUP, Cambridge, 2019

Maritime Crime: A Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna (3 editions), 2017 / 2019 / 2020

Recognition of Belligerency and the Law of Armed Conflict, OUP, Oxford, 2020


‘Some Problems and Issues in the Recognition of Indigenous Customary Law’ (July 1996) 3/82 Aboriginal Law Bulletin 4

‘Some Aspects of UNCLOS III and the Rights of Warships’ (1997) 122 Australian Defence Force Journal 5

‘Female Genital Mutilation as a Resolvable Legislative Issue’ (1997) 19:2 University of Queensland Law Journal 248

‘Jus ad Bellum and the Reasonable Hope of Success’ (1998) 23 Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy 47

‘Helmuth von Moltke and the Rise of the War Planning System’ (1999) 135 Australian Defence Force Journal 45

‘Use of Force in the Exclusive Economic Zone Under the Law of the Sea Convention’ (1999) 18:1 University of Tasmania Law Review 11

‘Improving Compliance: Making Non-State International Actors Responsible for Environmental Crimes’ (2000) 11:2 Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy 377

‘United Nations Mandated Naval Interdiction Operations in the Territorial Sea?’ (2002) 51:2 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 249

‘Naval Force and the Conduct of Peace Support Operations’ (2002) 9:4 International Peacekeeping 105

‘East Timor, Transitional Administration and the Status of the Territorial Sea’ (2003) 4:1 Melbourne Journal of International Law 323

‘An Assessment of the Authority for Australia to Use Force Under UNSC Resolutions Concerning Iraq’ (2005) 51 Naval Law Review 252

‘Wilful Killing During Armed Conflict: Is There a Defence of Proportionality in Australia?’ (2007) 18:1 Criminal Law Forum 1 (with Bruce Oswald)

‘The Legal Regime Applicable to Use of Lethal Force When Operating under a United Nations Security Council Chapter VII Mandate Authorising “All Necessary Means”’ (2007) 12:3 Journal of Conflict and Security Law 389

‘Australian Defence Force Operations’ (2008) 8 New Zealand Armed Forces Law Review 147 (with Jim Waddell and Cameron Moore)

‘The Use of Lethal Force by Military Forces on Law Enforcement Operations – Is There a “Lawful Authority”?’ (2009) 37:3 Federal Law Review 441

‘Australian Defence Force Operations’ (2009) 9 New Zealand Armed Forces Law Review 172 (with Cameron Moore)

‘The Law of Armed Conflict and International Human Rights Law – Some Paradigmatic Differences and Operational Implications’ (2010) 13 Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law 213

‘The Changing Character of Public Legal Scrutiny of Operations’ (2011) 87 International Law Studies 415

‘Unmanned Naval Vehicles at Sea: USVs, UUVs, and the Adequacy of the Law’ (2011) 21:2 Journal of Law Information and Science

‘Giving Operational Legal Advice: Context and Method’ (2011) 50:1-2 The Military Law and the Law of War Review 99

‘An Australian Perspective on Non-International Armed Conflict: Afghanistan and East Timor’ (2012) 88 International Law Studies 293

‘Terrorism as a Central Theme in the Evolution of Maritime Operations Law Since 11 September 2001’ (2011) 14 Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law 391

‘Legal-Policy considerations and conflict characterisation choices at the threshold between Law Enforcement and Non-International Armed Conflict’ (2012) 13:1 Melbourne Journal of International Law 94

‘The Law Applicable to Naval Mine Warfare in a Non-International Armed Conflict’ (2014) 90 International Law Studies 474

‘The Continuing Conundrum of the Somali Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone’ (2015) 30 International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 305

‘The Law’s Potential to Break—Rather Than Entrench—the South China Sea Deadlock?’ (with Hitoshi Nasu) (2015) 20:3 Journal of Conflict and Security Law 1

‘Towards a More Effective Counter-drugs Regime in the Indian Ocean’, (2016) 12:1 Journal of the Indian Ocean Region 24

‘Call-Out Powers for the Australian Defence Force in an Age of Terrorism: Some Legal Implications’ (with David Letts) (2016) 85 Australian Institute of Administrative Law Forum 63

‘The role of information sharing in counter piracy in the Horn of Africa region: A model for transnational criminal enforcement operations’ (with Tamsin Paige) (2016) 12:1 Journal of International Law and International Relations 82

‘Russia, Crimea, and the Rules based Order?’ (June 2017) Centre of Gravity: Prospects for the Rules-Based Global Order, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, 14

‘Maritime Law Enforcement and the Aggravation of the South China Sea Dispute: Implications for Australia’ (with David Letts and Hitoshi Nasu) (2017) 34 Australian Year Book of International Law 53

‘Law enforcement at sea: the applicable legal framework’ (2016) 98(2) International Review of the Red Cross 465

‘Naval Robots and Rescue’ (with Robert Sparrow and Mark Howard) (2017) 99/906 International Review of the Red Cross 1139

‘Revisiting the Red Crusader Incident’ (2018) 35 Australian Yearbook of International Law 91

‘Article 110 of the Law of the Sea Convention 1982 and Jurisdiction over Vessels Without Nationality’ (2019) 51:3 George Washington International Law Review 373

‘Reinforcing the Law of the Sea Convention of 1982 Through Clarification and Implementation’ (2020) 25:1 Ocean and Coastal Law Journal 130

‘Some Rules of Engagement Legacies of the 1999 Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations during the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda’ (2020) 22 Journal of International Peacekeeping 282

‘Maritime Autonomous Vehicles: New Frontiers in the Law of the Sea’ (with Natalie Klein, Douglas Guilfoyle, and Saiful Karim) (2020) 69:3 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 719

‘A Typology of State Relationships with the Rules Based Order: The Case of Russia’ (2020) 7:1 National Security Law Journal 158

‘An Incident in the South China Sea’ (2020) 96 International Law Studies 505


‘International Humanitarian Law, New Forms of Armed Violence and the Use of Force: The Prohibition on use of Flattening and Expanding Rounds in Non-International Armed Conflict’ in Marco Odello and Gian Luca Beruto (eds) Global Violence: Consequences and Responses (Proceedings of the XXXIII (2010) Roundtable), FrancoAngeli Politica / Institute for International Humanitarian Law, 2011

‘Dangerous Waters and International Law: The Corfu Channel Case, Warships, and Sovereignty Irritants’ in Theodore Christakis, Karine Bannelier, and Sarah Heathcote (eds) The Enduring Impact of a Seminal Case: Corfu Channel, the ICJ, and Modern International Law, Routledge, Oxford, 2011

‘Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict through Rules of Engagement’ in David Lovell and Igor Primoratz (eds) Protecting Civilians During Violent Conflict: Theoretical & Practical Issues for the 21st Century, Ashgate, Farnham, 2012

‘International Humanitarian Law in the Maritime Context: Conflict Characterization in Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Contexts’ (Rob McLaughlin, and Dale Stephens), in Application of International Humanitarian Law in Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Bodies (Editors Jinks, Mangoto, and Solomon), Asser Press, The Hague, 2014

‘United Nations Security Council Practice in Relation to Use of Force in No-Fly Zones and Maritime Exclusion Zones’, in Handbook on the Use of Force (Editors Marc Weller and Alexia Solomou), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014

‘The Emerging Paradigm for Operational Incident Investigation’, in Investigating Operational Incidents, (Editor David Lovell), Martinus Nijhof, The Hague, 2014

‘The Impact of the ‘Civilianisation’ of Military Administrative Law on the ‘Command Power’, in Military Justice in Australia (Editors Alison Duxbury and Matthew Groves), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2016

‘The Law of Naval Warfare: International Humanitarian Law in the Maritime Domain’ (Rob McLaughlin and David Letts), in Routledge Handbook of the Law of Armed Conflict (Editors Rain Liivoja, and Tim McCormack), Routledge, Oxford, 2016

‘The ADF and Military Operations’ (Dale Stephens, Paul Muggleton, and Rob McLaughlin), in International Law in Australia (Editors Don Rothwell and Emily Crawford), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2017

Contributor, Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations (General Editor Michael Schmitt), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2017

‘Use of Force in Non-International Armed Conflict’ in Paul Muggleton, Muggleton on the Law of Non-International Armed Conflict, Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law, Melbourne, 2017

Entries on ‘flag of vessel’, ‘naval warfare’, ‘warship’, ‘hospital ship’, and ‘coastal rescue craft’ for Brill Companion to International Humanitarian Law (Editors Niccolò Pons and Drazan Djukić), Brill, The Hague, 2018

‘Non-LOAC governed deployment of military technologies: Some regulatory touchstones’ (Editor William Boothby) New Technologies and the Law in War and Peace, CUP, Cambridge, 2018

‘The Crime of Piracy’ (with Douglas Guilfoyle) in C. Jalloh, K. Clarke, & V. Nmehielle (eds), The African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights in Context: Development and Challenges, CUP, Cambridge, 2019, 388-408

‘Organized Armed Groups and Direct Participation in Hostilities’ (Editors Robin Creyke et al) Military Law in Australia, Federation Press, Sydney, 2019

‘The Military Law System’ (with David Letts) (Editors Robin Creyke et al) Military Law in Australia, Federation Press, Sydney, 2019

‘Intersection of Military Law and Civil Law’ (with David Letts) (Editors Robin Creyke et al) Military Law in Australia, Federation Press, 2019

‘Military Aid to the Civil Power’ (with David Letts) (Editors Robin Creyke et al) Military Law in Australia, Federation Press, Sydney, 2019

‘Anticipating operational naval warfare issues in International Humanitarian Law that may arise in the event of a conflict in the South China Sea’ (Editors Tim McCormack, Sandesh Sivakumaran, and Suzannah Linton), Perspectives on International Humanitarian Law from and On the Asia-Pacific Region, CUP, Cambridge, 2019

‘Does the Law of Naval Warfare Apply to NIAC at Sea? Well, sort of…’, (Editors Dale Stephens and Matthew Stubbs), The Law of Naval Warfare, Lexis Nexis, Sydney, 2019

The Law of the Sea, Status, and Message Ambiguity’, (Editors Don Rothwell and David Letts), Law of the Sea and South East Asia, CUP, Cambridge, 2019

‘Fundamental Guarantees’ (Editors Dapo Akande and Ben Saul) Oxford Guide to International Humanitarian Law, OUP, Oxford, 2020

‘Three Images of the Rules-Based Order’ (Editors Melissa Conley Tyler Allan Gyngell Bryce Wakefield) Australia and the Rules-Based International Order, Australian Institute for International Affairs, 2021

‘State Failure’, (Editors Robin Geiss and Nils Melzer) The Oxford Handbook on the International Law of Global Security, OUP, Oxford, 2021

Books, chapters and articles ‘in press’

Rwanda Revisited (with Phil Drew, Jeremy Farrall, and Bruce Oswald), Brill, NY, (forthcoming 2021)

‘The Future Law of Naval Warfare: Some Vessel and Personnel Status Issues’, USMA Lieber Institute, Law of Armed Conflict 2040, OUP, Oxford (forthcoming 2021)

‘The Falklands Conflict: The Last British Imperial War?’, (Editors Kaushik Roy and Michael Charney), Routledge Handbook of the Global History of Warfare, Routledge (forthcoming 2021)

Recent Online Pieces

10 September 2015 ‘State Responsibility for Third Country Deployed Embedded Military Personnel in Armed Conflict’, EJIL Talk! -

October 2015, ‘The rapidly evolving norm relating to collective self-defence against non-state actors in the territory of “unwilling or unable” states’, ANZSIL Perspectives No. 2 -

29 March 2016, ‘Path needs to be cleared so Defence Force can respond to terror attacks’ (with David Letts), The Australian, p10

11 November 2016, ‘Common Article 2 as a paradigmatically challenging threshold for the application of IHL’, ILA Reporter -

18 September 2017, ‘The need for clarity in international cyber law: International law implications of the lack of consensus’ (with Michael Schmitt), Policy Forum -

26 July 2018, ‘Three Images of the Rules Based Order: How is the concept of “rules-based order” currently employed in debates and discussions as to its existence, fragility, nature, and content?’: Australian Institute of International Affairs – Australian Outlook -

20 September 2018, ‘Data as a Military Objective’: Australian Institute of International Affairs – Australian Outlook -

07 May 2019, ‘New Technologies Symposium: Five Potential Drivers of the Relationship between LOAC and Technology Over the Next Twenty Years’: Opinio Juris -

18 June 2019, ‘The Legal Status and Characterisation of Maritime Militia Vessels’: EJIL Talk! -

24 June 2019, ‘Attribution of Naval Mine Strikes in International Law’ (with James Kraska): EJIL Talk! -

17 September 2020, ‘Whither Recognition of Belligerency?’: Articles of War (USMA West Point Lieber Institute) -

16 October 2020, ‘The Final Frontier of Cyberspace: Ensuring that Submarine Data Cables are Able to Live Long and Prosper (Part I)’ (with Tamsin Paige and Douglas Guilfoyle): Opinio Juris -

16 October 2020, ‘The Final Frontier of Cyberspace: Ensuring that Submarine Data Cables are Able to Live Long and Prosper (Part II)’ (with Tamsin Paige and Douglas Guilfoyle): Opinio Juris -

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