Mr Duncan Blake

Mr Duncan Blake


PhD candidate, The University of Adelaide, 2017 - 2023, researching the intersection between laws of war and space law

Associate Fellowship of Higher Education Academy, 2020

Master of Laws (Space Law), McGill University, Montreal, 2010 - 2013

Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, RAAF, 2013

Australian Command and Staff Course, 2007

Graduate Certificate in Defence Studies, UNSW, 2007

Master of Laws, University of Melbourne, 2001 - 2005

Bachelor of Laws, University of Western Australia, 1992 - 1996

Bachelor of Economics, University of Western Australia, 1992 - 1994

UNSW Canberra
School of Humanities & Social Sciences

Duncan Blake conducts research and teaching at the interdisciplinary intersection of law with outer space and military policy and strategy.

Duncan transferred from the permanent Air Force to the Reserves in January 2017, after 22 years as a Legal Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. He worked at the tactical, operational and strategic levels at home and on deployment overseas, especially in the Middle East. On deployment he has provided legal support to aerial targeting operations in Iraq and Syria, and he has managed the provision of legal support for all ADF operations in the Middle East. He has worked with strike and fighter jet forces and units responsible for airspace surveillance. He has also been a prosecutor for the military. He served as the Deputy Director of Operations and International Law for the Australian Department of Defence, providing operations and international law advice and support at the highest levels within Defence and across government. More recently, Duncan was legal advisor to the Defence Space Coordinating Office and he initiated and chaired inter-departmental and international working groups in respect of strategic space law, including for the Combined Space Operations initiative. His last posting, before transferring out of the permanent Air Force, was in a non-legal position, managing the development of a future joint operations concept for military use of outer space, to coordinate capability development and force structure decisions in the Australian Defence Force.

Wing Commander Duncan Blake continues to contribute as a Reserve legal officer, providing backfill and supplementation in a directorate that advises government on the potential military role in existing and prospective contingencies. He also supports the Australian Department of Defence in a variety of other tasks, especially in relation to military space activities and the law.

Duncan has contributed extensively to doctrine and policy for the Australian Department of Defence and whole-of-government, on issues of operations law and space law. Although this work is not publicly accessible, he has authored numerous articles, including an article for which he was awarded the 2011 Lieber Society Military Prize by the American Society of International Law.

He has undergraduate degrees in Law and Economics from the University of Western Australia, a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from the University of Melbourne and an LLM from McGill University. He is also a graduate of Australian Command and Staff College. His thesis topic for his LLM at McGill University was on the need for a ‘Manual on International Law Applicable to Warfare in Space’.

Duncan is currently part of the governance board for a project to draft the Woomera Manual on international law applicable to military space activities. He was previously Managing Editor in the project, helping to lead a group of international experts to draft such a manual, aiming for publication in 2023.

Duncan is completing doctoral research at The University of Adelaide on a topic associated with the Woomera Manual project. In respect of military space activities, there are rules of international space law that appear incongruent with rules from laws about using force and coercion. Reconciling those incongruities using existing tools of international law is ambiguous. Nevertheless, meaningful resolution of these conflicts is possible. Duncan’s research examines how.

Duncan also consults on law and strategy for space services for International Aerospace Law & Policy Group, a law firm in Queensland.

Duncan is married with two school-aged children. He is an avid cyclist, on road, MTB and XC, an avid snow skier, and in the past, an avid rower.

School of Humanities and Social Sciences Room 217, Level 2, Building 28
  • Books | 2013
    Blake D, 2013, Military Strategic Use of Outer Space
    Books | 2013
    Blake D, 2013, The Law Applicable to the Military Strategic Use of Outer Space
  • Journal articles | 2022
    Dowse A; Blake D; O’Sullivan E, 2022, 'An Australian Approach to Space Warfare', Astropolitics, 20, pp. 192 - 213,
    Journal articles | 2019
    2019, 'I Am Not a High Priest in a Secular Military!',
    Journal articles | 2017
    2017, 'Call for Australia to head back into space',
    Journal articles | 2011
    Blake D, 2011, 'Military use of civil registered aircraft', Annals of Air and Space Law
    Journal articles | 2011
    Blake D, 2011, 'Operations Bastille and Falconer: Legal Support to Commanders', Australian Defence Force Journal
    Journal articles | 2010
    Blake D, 2010, '’Bloodless Weapons’? The Need to Conduct Legal Reviews of Certain Capabilities and the Implications of Defining them as ’Weapons’', Air Force Law Review
  • Other | 2020
    Blake D, 2020, Australia’s Essential Contribution to ‘Space Domain Awareness’,
    Other | 2018
    Blake D, 2018, A New Horizon: Australia in the Global Space Race,
    Conference Papers | 2017
    Blake D, 2017, 'Maintaining United States leadership in the space domain'
    Conference Papers | 2016
    Blake D, 2016, 'Space Law Issues in the Regulation of National Space Activities'
    Other | 2013
    Blake D, 2013, The Laws of Star Wars - the need for a ’Manual of International Law Applicable to Space Warfare’,
    Conference Papers | 2012
    Blake D, 2012, 'Australian Interests in Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures for Outer Space'
    Other | 2011
    Blake D, 2011, Traversing l’Étoile: Domestic Legal Implementation of the European Union draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space,

Lieber Society Military Prize from the American Society of International Law, 2011