Professor Robert McLaughlin

Director ACSACS - Professor of Military and Security Law
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society

Professor Robert McLaughlin is Professor of Military Security Law and Director of the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society at UNSW Canberra. Prior to taking up this appointment 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 (for which he continues to regularly consult).

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.


McLaughlin RJ, 2017, Maritime Crime: A Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna

McLaughlin RJ; Drew P, 2016, Handbook on the Use of Force for Private Security Companies, Oceans Beyond Piracy,

Nasu H; McLaughlin R, (eds.), 2013, New Technologies and the Law of Armed Conflict, Springer Science & Business Media

McLaughlin R, 2009, United Nations Naval Peace Operations in the Territorial Sea, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers

McLaughlin RJ; Mandsager D; Drew P; Cole A, 2009, Multinational Rules of Engagement Handbook, Institute for international Humanitarian Law,

Book Chapters

McLaughlin RJ; Stephens D; Muggleton P, 2017, 'The ADF and Military Operations', in Rothwell D; Crawford E (ed.), International Law in Australia, CUP

McLaughlin RJ, 2017, 'Use of Force in Non-International Armed Conflict’', in Muggleton P (ed.), Muggleton on the Law of Non-International Armed Conflict, Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law, Melbourne, pp. 173 - 189

McLaughlin RJ, 2016, 'The Impact of the ‘Civilianisation’ of Military Administrative Law on the ‘Command Power’', in Duxbury A; Groves M (ed.), Military Justice in Australia, CUP

McLaughlin RJ; Letts D, 2016, 'The Law of Naval Warfare: International Humanitarian Law in the Maritime Domain’', in Routledge Handbook of the Law of Armed Conflict, Routledge

McLaughlin RJ; Stephens D, 2014, 'International Humanitarian Law in the Maritime Context: Conflict Characterization in Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Contexts', in Jinks D; Mangoto; Solomon S (ed.), Application of International Humanitarian Law in Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Bodies, Asser Press

McLaughlin RJ, 2014, 'United Nations Security Council Practice in Relation to Use of Force in No-Fly Zones and Maritime Exclusion Zones', in Weller M; Solomou A (ed.), Handbook on the Use of Force, OUP

McLaughlin RJ, 2014, 'The Emerging Paradigm for Operational Incident Investigation', in Lovell D (ed.), Investigating Operational Incidents, Martinus Nijhof

McLaughlin RJ, 2012, 'Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict through Rules of Engagement', in Lovell D; Primoratz I (ed.), Protecting Civilians During Violent Conflict: Theoretical & Practical Issues for the 21st Century, Ashgate

McLaughlin RJ, 2011, '‘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 Odello M; Beruto G (ed.), Global Violence: Consequences and Responses (Proceedings of the XXXIII (2010) Roundtable), FrancoAgneli Politica / IIHL

McLaughlin RJ, 2011, 'Dangerous Waters and International Law: The Corfu Channel Case, Warships, and Sovereignty Irritants', in Christakis T; Bannelier K; Heathcote S (ed.), The Enduring Impact of a Seminal Case: Corfu Channel, the ICJ, and Modern International Law, Routledge

Journal articles

McLaughlin RJ, 2017, 'Russia, Crimea, and the Rules Based Order?', Centre of Gravity, pp. 14 - 14

McLaughlin RJ; Letts D; Nasu H, 2017, 'Maritime Law Enforcement and the Aggravation of the South China Sea Dispute: Implications for Australia', Australian Yearbook of International Law, vol. 34, pp. 53 - 53

McLaughlin R; Paige TP, 2016, 'The Role of Information Sharing in Counter Piracy in the Horn of Africa Region: A Model for Transnational Criminal Enforcement Operations', Journal of International Law and International Relations

McLaughlin RJ; Letts D, 2016, 'Call-Out Powers for the Australian Defence Force in an Age of Terrorism: Some Legal Implications', Australian Institute of Administrative Law Forum, pp. 63 - 63

McLaughlin R, 2016, 'Authorizations for maritime law enforcement operations', International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 98, pp. 465 - 490,

McLaughlin R; Nasu H, 2016, 'The Law’s Potential to Break—Rather Than Entrench—the South China Sea Deadlock?', Journal of Conflict and Security Law, vol. 21, pp. 305 - 337,

McLaughlin R, 2016, 'Towards a more effective counter-drugs regime in the Indian Ocean', Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, vol. 12, pp. 24 - 38,

McLaughlin R, 2015, 'The Continuing Conundrum of the Somali Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone', The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, vol. 30, pp. 305 - 334,

McLaughlin RJ, 2014, 'The Law Applicable to Naval Mine Warfare in a Non-International Armed Conflict', International Law Studies, vol. 90, pp. 474 - 474

McLaughlin RJ, 2012, 'An Australian Perspective on Non-International Armed Conflict: Afghanistan and East Timor', International Law Studies, vol. 88, pp. 293 - 293

McLaughlin RJ, 2012, 'Legal-Policy considerations and conflict characterisation choices at the threshold between Law Enforcement and Non-International Armed Conflict', Melbourne Journal of International Law, vol. 13, pp. 94 - 94

McLaughlin RJ, 2011, 'Giving Operational Legal Advice: Context and Method', The Military Law and the Law of War Review, vol. 50, pp. 99 - 99

McLaughlin RJ, 2011, 'Terrorism as a Central Theme in the Evolution of Maritime Operations Law Since 11 September 2011', Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, vol. 14, pp. 391 - 391

McLaughlin R, 2011, 'Unmanned Naval Vehicles at Sea: USVs, UUVs, and the Adequacy of the Law', Journal of Law, Information & Science, vol. 21,

McLaughlin RJ, 2010, 'The Law of Armed Conflict and International Human Rights Law – Some Paradigmatic Differences and Operational Implications', Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, vol. 13, pp. 213 - 213

McLaughlin RJ, 2010, 'The Changing Character of Public Legal Scrutiny of Operations', International Law Studies, vol. 87, pp. 415 - 415

McLaughlin RJ, 2009, 'The Use of Lethal Force by Military Forces on Law Enforcement Operations – Is There a “Lawful Authority”?', Federal Law Review, vol. 37, pp. 441 - 441

McLaughlin RJ; Moore C, 2009, 'Australian Defence Force Operations', New Zealand Armed Forces Law Review, vol. 9, pp. 172 - 172

McLaughlin RJ; Waddell J; Moore C, 2008, 'Australian Defence Force Operations', New Zealand Armed Forces Law Review, vol. 8, pp. 147 - 147

McLaughlin R, 2008, 'The Legal Regime Applicable to Use of Lethal Force When Operating under a United Nations Security Council Chapter VII Mandate Authorising 'All Necessary Means'', Journal of Conflict and Security Law, vol. 12, pp. 389 - 417,

McLaughlin R; Oswald B, 2007, '“Wilful killing” during armed conflict: is there a defence of proportionality in Australia?', Criminal Law Forum, vol. 18, pp. 1 - 41,

McLaughlin RJ, 2005, 'An Assessment of the Authority for Australia to Use Force Under UNSC Resolutions Concerning Iraq', Naval Law Review, vol. 51, pp. 252 - 252

McLaughlin RJ, 2003, 'East Timor, Transitional Administration and the Status of the Territorial Sea', Melbourne Journal of International Law, vol. 4, pp. 323 - 323

Mclaughlin R, 2002, 'Naval Force and the Conduct of Peace Support Operations', International Peacekeeping, vol. 9, pp. 105 - 118,

McLaughlin R, 2002, 'United Nations Mandated Naval Interdiction Operations in the Territorial Sea?', International and Comparative Law Quarterly, vol. 51, pp. 249 - 278,

McLaughlin RJ, 2000, 'Improving Compliance: Making Non-State International Actors Responsible for Environmental Crimes', Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, vol. 11, pp. 377 - 377

McLaughlin RJ, 1999, 'Helmuth von Moltke and the Rise of the War Planning System', Australian Defence Force Journal, pp. 45 - 45

McLaughlin RJ, 1999, 'Use of Force in the Exclusive Economic Zone Under the Law of the Sea Convention', University of Tasmania Law Review, vol. 18, pp. 11 - 11

McLaughlin RJ, 1998, 'Jus ad Bellum and the Reasonable Hope of Success', Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy, vol. 23, pp. 47 - 47

McLaughlin RJ, 1997, 'Female Genital Mutilation as a Resolvable Legislative Issue', The University of Queensland Law Journal, vol. 19, pp. 248 - 248

McLaughlin RJ, 1997, 'Some Aspects of UNCLOS III and the Rights of Warships', Australian Defence Force Journal, pp. 5 - 5

McLaughlin RJ, 1996, 'Some Problems and Issues in the Recognition of Indigenous Customary Law', Aboriginal Law Bulletin, vol. 3/82, pp. 4 - 4

Conference Papers

McLaughlin RJ, 2019, 'The Law of the Sea Convention 1982 as help or hindrance? Case studies in how to make calibrated strategic and diplomatic points through LOSC-informed navigation choices', in , The Law of the Sea in the Asia Pacific Region, Canberra, presented at The Law of the Sea in the Asia Pacific Region, Canberra, 22 - 23 August 2017

McLaughlin RJ, 2018, 'On Water Operational Implications of the South China Sea Arbitration', in , Australian and New Zealand Society for international Law 25th Annual Conference, Canberra, presented at Australian and New Zealand Society for international Law 25th Annual Conference, Canberra, 29 June - 01 July 2017

McLaughlin RJ, 2018, 'Maritime Security and Regional Governance', in , Governance Reform: Domestic and Global Dimensions – UNSW-Canberra and Peking University Conference, Canberra, presented at Governance Reform: Domestic and Global Dimensions – UNSW-Canberra and Peking University Conference, Canberra, 09 - 09 November 2017


McLaughlin RJ; Schmitt M, The need for clarity in international cyber law: International law implications of the lack of consensus