University of Surrey Institute of Advanced Studies

University of Surrey


“Hitting the Target?” How New Capabilities Are Shaping Contemporary International Intervention

12 July 2012 - 13 July 2012

cii – the Centre for International Intervention, School of Politics, University of Surrey

Call for Papers for International Workshop

DEADLINE: 3 February 2012

Abstracts are invited for a two day multidisciplinary workshop at cii – the Centre for International Intervention at the University of Surrey - on 12 and 13 July 2012. The workshop’s objective is to explore how new selective precision strike capabilities available to military and intelligence forces are shaping approaches to international intervention. The workshop will provide a forum for dialogue between different academic disciplines, as well as between academia and policy-makers/practitioners. Hence papers addressing the subject from behavioural, ethical, legal and politico/military perspectives – or a combination of these perspectives - are particularly welcome. The organisers also wish to explore these issues from the perspective of those on the receiving end of intervention as well as those who carry it out. Participation at the workshop is limited to 60 people.


Since the end of the Cold War US technological superiority has led to a more proactive – and, some would argue, high risk – approach to international military intervention. This has included air campaigns without the commitment of large numbers of troops on the ground (as in Kosovo and Libya) supported by Special Forces. The parallel developments of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) and electronic data intercept technologies have expanded further the potential scope of interventions, for example against Islamic militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan. This raises a number of important questions about the thresholds for military intervention, the way it is carried out, and its consequences; in particular whether ethical, legal, and policy frameworks have kept up with the pace of technological change and how this affects the behaviour of those responsible for policy and for its implementation on the ground.

While much attention has focussed on US precision-strike capabilities, since the end of the Cold War Britain, France, and Germany have also undertaken a partial and selective emulation of the key capabilities which underpin the US-led Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). Initiatives under the European Defence Agency and European Space Agency appear to hint at a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) that is becoming increasingly militarised and also allows European nations to decouple themselves from reliance on US assets. This raises interesting questions about the future of the Atlantic Alliance and CSDP: whether Europe will soon be in a position to ‘go it alone’ and whether the ethical, legal and behavioural contexts of European operations may foster a very different attitude toward the use of technology. Interesting questions also arise in relation to the development and operationalisation of the capabilities of, especially, China, India and Russia.

Workshop Objectives:

Prospective papers could potentially address the following questions:

Do the new capabilities fundamentally change the policy options available to political leaders?

  • Does enhanced precision-strike capability amount to a new RMA? How differentiated are national precision-strike capabilities? How does the development of new technologies impact on military doctrine? How does this translate into foreign policy options?
  • What are the implications of precision-strike capabilities for the role and function of the key institutions of Euro-Atlantic security (CSDP and NATO) and the United Nations? How will such capabilities affect the exercise of military power by emerging powers in the international system (China, India and Russia)?
  • Do the new capabilities fundamentally affect the calculation of risk versus reward in decision-making on intervention? How, for example, do remote strikes impact on the prospects for successful post-intervention stabilisation and reconstruction?
  • Is enough being invested in intelligence capabilities to support decisions to intervene in this way? Has the rise of technology undermined the knowledge base that supports decisions to intervene and how the intervention is to be conducted?

Have states’ ethical, legal, and policy frameworks kept pace with technological developments and if not, how do they need to be revised?

  • Have these developments thrown up issues of international law that remain unresolved and if so how will they be addressed? Is there sufficient clarity about the respective applicability of international criminal law and the law of armed conflict in this kind of intervention?
  • Are existing accountability mechanisms adequate to regulate the use of the new technologies? Is there sufficient investment in the audit trail for decision-making when selective, precision, strikes are undertaken?

What are the human and behavioural consequences of the adoption of the new capabilities?

  • Does increasing the distance between those who pull the triggers and the actual death or injury of both military and civilians affect decision making before and during conflict? Is this changing the nature of conflict by overriding or evading certain psychological inhibitors on the human desire to kill?
  • How well do we understand the impact of this new form of warfare on the people on the ground who are affected by it?

Confirmed speakers at the workshop include:

  • Mr Geoff Loane, Head Of Mission, ICRC Mission in the UK
  • Professor Jason Ralph, Professor of International Relations, University of Leeds
  • Dr Jamie Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary-General, NATO


Abstracts should reach the organisers by 3 February 2012.

Please use the form below to submit your abstract (300 words).

Notification will be by the end of February 2012.

Please contact Dr Tom Dyson for further details about the Call for Papers.

Presentation submission

Presentations may consist of either a summary (approximately 2000 words), a full written paper or Powerpoint slides saved in a PDF format. Presentations will be made available to workshop delegates through a password protected web page in advance of the workshop.

Presentation submission deadline: 1 June 2012

Please send your presentations to Dr Wali Aslam


Please address all administrative enquiries to Ms Mirela Dumic


We are not able to offer bursaries for travel and accommodation costs, but accommodation at reasonable rates is available on the University campus.

Lead organisers:
Professor Sir Mike Aaronson, cii – The Centre for International Intervention, School of Politics and Dr Tom Dyson, School of Politics

Dr Regina Rauxloh, School of Law and Dr Wali Aslam, cii, School of Politics

Abstract Submission

Abstract Submission is now closed