International Law Studies


Advances in science and technology have made it possible to improve the physical and cognitive capabilities of warfighters by biomedical interventions, such as the administration of drugs, the implantation of devices, and the magnetic stimulation of the brain. These advances raise the question as to whether enhanced warfighters ought to be considered weapons, means of warfare, or methods of warfare, for the purposes of the law of armed conflict. An affirmative answer to this question would make human enhancement subject to various restrictions arising from the law of armed conflict as well as arms control law. This article disagrees with the suggestion that enhanced warfighters, or the enhancements themselves, could constitute biological agents and thus be prohibited by the Biological Weapons Convention. The article also rejects the notion that enhanced warfighters might amount to weapons more broadly. Placing human beings who possess moral agency on par with mere instruments of warfare distorts the accepted meaning of the law. At the same time, because means of warfare and methods of warfare are more malleable categories, there are at least some hypothetical scenarios where enhanced warfighters could fit within these categories.