Kobi Leins

  • Kobe Leins

    PhD candidate


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Kobi Leins is a PhD Candidate at Melbourne Law School. She is researching the legal issues particular to military use of “nano-enhanced” weapons.

Thesis Title

Nano-enhanced Weapons and the Legality of Military Use under Existing Legal Frameworks

Thesis Summary

The question that this thesis will explore is whether the use of nanotechnology-enhanced weapons is prohibited or limited in an armed conflict.  Nanotechnology is multi-disciplinary, and has many potential applications for the military. Scholars have long recognised the potential challenges of regulating nano-developments, and some have suggested that new laws are required to govern nano-enhanced weapons, or even the military’s use of nanotechnology more broadly.

In the context of its potential application in armed conflict, “nanotechnology” has been largely written about as a homogenous category for the purposes of regulation. Writing about “nanotechnology” as a homogenous category is problematic as “nano” merely describes the size of one or more parts of a weapon, and the regulatory regime applying to the use of “nano”-scale components may vary vastly depending on the type of application of the nano-scale components. The equivalent of writing about the wholesale regulation of nanotechology would be comparable to writing about the regulation of “really big things.” 

This thesis will look at three case studies, each involving a different type of nano-enhancement. Each case study will assess whether the regulatory regime is adequate in the regulation of its use. After assessing the extent to which the law is or is not adequate, this thesis will make some conclusions about whether the law needs to be reformed to adequately cover advances in this technology. The three types of technology that I will analyse are optogenetics, thermobarics and genetic modification.


  • Public International Law
  • Emerging Technology
  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • Human Rights Law