This International Ethics research theme explores force and coercion short of war, ‘information warfare’, terrorism and counter-terrorism, global and regional security governance, humanitarianism, the responsibility to protect (R2P), cybersecurity, and nuclear weapons. Key projects are outlined below.  

Security Cosmopolitanism 

This project diagnoses the challenges posed by the globalisation of insecurity via processes, such as nuclear weapons, climate change, poverty, terrorism and trans-nationalised conflict, that transcend national borders and cannot be thwarted via traditional policy approaches. It develops a unique ethics program for both national policy and the reform of collective security institutions that asserts global security as a universal good – one in which the security of all states, all human beings and ecosystems is of equal weight; causal chains and processes are spread widely across space and through time; and security actors bear a responsibility to consider the global impact of their choices. 

The project has produced a range of sole and co-authored outputs including:

The globalisation of insecurity was the subject of a two-day workshop held in Canberra and resulted in the coedited volume, Global Insecurity: Futures of Chaos and Governance.  

A one-day workshop on the ethics of security sponsored by the Centre for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham resulted in the co-edited volume, Ethical Security Studies: A New Research Agenda.   

The Ethics of ‘Cyber-Humanitarian Interventions’: Using Cyber-Operations to Protect Vulnerable Populations from Mass Atrocity Crimes 

In this doctoral project, Rhiannon Neilsen focuses on atrocity prevention in the digital age and moral and political philosophy. She examines the ethics of 'cyber-humanitarian interventions' – sophisticated cyber-operations designed to disrupt potential perpetrators’ means and/or motivations for atrocity crimes.  

Such cyber-humanitarian interventions include blocking communications between perpetrators, as well as targeted educational campaigns online. Her project also interrogates whether it may be ethically permissible – or indeed required – to use fake news and disinformation to dissuade perpetrators from participating in atrocities. In doing so, the project also determines which actors might be responsible for launching such ‘cyber-humanitarian interventions’ for human protection purposes.  

The Moral and Social Costs of Militarisation 

In this book-length project, Ned Dobos explores the moral and social costs of militarisation, and shines a light on the ways in which a civilian population compromises its own security by having a military establishment attached to it. This research project considers whether it is ethically justifiable for states to build and maintain institutions devoted to war-making. Dr Dobos has guest-edited a special issue Philosophical Forum on the topic of pacifism.