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Utah Law Review Symposium to Consider the Limits of Technological Warfare

Reaper unmanned aerial drone.

Jan. 29, 2013 – Unmanned drones, cruise missiles, automated weapons, even armed robot warriors on the battlefield— in a time of troop cutbacks, emerging technologies make it possible to conduct “clinical strikes” through “remote warfare.” But are these tactics of waging war from a safe distance legal and ethical?

That is the topic being discussed and debated at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Utah Law Review Symposium titled “The Legal and Ethical Limits of Technological Warfare.” Organizers will engage with recognized experts representing different disciplines and perspectives regarding the confluence between technological warfare, the law and ethics. Participants will engage in a scenario based roundtable addressing the confluence of legal and ethical dilemmas of targeted-killing decision making.

The all-day event on Feb. 1, 2013 is free and open to the public. It will run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom at the College of Law. Admission is free, but an RSVP is requested. For more information, contact Miriam Lovin at 801-585-3479 or by email at

Organizers will challenge participants to answer questions such as: do drone strikes lead to reductions in combatant casualties? What are the ethics of waging war from a safe distance? Do different rules of autonomy and accountability apply? If so, who is drafting these new rules of armed conflict and how will they be enforced?

Amos Guiora, professor of law and a retired officer in the Israel Defense Forces is one of the organizers. “The symposium is a unique gathering of distinct voices with an extraordinarily broad range of experience including military, policy, law and ethics,” says Guiora. “In addition to panel discussions amongst subject matter experts, the conference will include a scenario based simulation exercise involving all the participants. This unique format will enable panelists and speakers to ponder, interactively, the use of technology in armed conflict from a number of perspectives.”

The symposium begins with a welcome from Guiora and College of Law Dean Hiram Chodosh. A keynote by Professor Trevor Morrison, a law and national security scholar at Columbia Law School, follows at 9:00 a.m. In 2009, Morrison served in the White House as associate counsel to the president.

The first panel, “History of Armed Conflict and Legal Ramifications,” begins at 9:30 a.m., and is followed by an 11:00 a.m. panel made up of retired U.S. military officers who will discuss the “use of force.”

Lunch will be provided free to attendees at 12:30 p.m. The proceedings will continue at 1:15 p.m. with a panel discussion on the ethics of war. Later, at 3:15 p.m., participants will engage in the scenario based roundtable. For a full list of speakers and events, visit

The symposium will be streamed live on the College of Law’s web TV station and archived for future viewing.