Interview with Rogier Bartels

In a few words, can you tell us about yourself and how you found your way to the academic field?

After finishing my law degree, I work in the field of international humanitarian law. Next to my work, I started publishing and in 2010 started a PhD as an external researcher at the University of Amsterdam. Other than a part-time job for three years at the military academy of the Netherlands, I have always done academia 'on the side', next to full time job in humanitarian law or (international) criminal law, with occasional sabbaticals of a few weeks to months that allowed me to fully focus on research and writing.

What is the main core of your research? Can you give an example or two? How is it related to cyber security?

The interplay between international humanitarian law and (international) criminal law. At the Center, my research focusses on human enhancement for military purposes. Such enhanced humans would need to be able to abide by international humanitarian law. I look into responsibility, liability, and accountability issues related to the development of such human enhancement.

Why did you choose this area over all others? Did your personal or professional background lead you to it?

As a lawyer, I have been dealing with accountability for war crimes for the last 11 years. The future of international humanitarian law will be impacted by new technologies, such as cyber warfare, autonomous weapons, space warfare, and human enhancement. The latter is as of yet an under-researched area and therefore provides interesting opportunities top contribute to the debate.

Do you think that in this cyber age these issues are even more complex compared to other times in history? If so – in what ways?

Yes, the law is static and generally runs behind, only being updated after new technology emerges. With the technology becoming available more rapidly, and more importantly, being of a type that is not easily understood by the average law maker, creating new rules is even more challenging.

After explaining the main core of your research, what do you think is the solution? What is the proper model for that? Is it applicable?

At the moment, human enhancement is only in the research and development stage and not yet employed for military purposes. This is therefore the right time to propose frameworks for liability and accountability.

What is the next phase in your professional life?

After this post-doc research, I may leave practice and seek a full-time job in academia - one that combines teaching and research.

What is your message to the public?

Make sure to always to what you enjoy - if that entails something that also makes a valuable contribution to society, all the better.