Duncan Blake

Lecturer in Space Law and Strategy

Duncan Blake 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.

Blake D, 2013, Military Strategic Use of Outer Space
Blake D, 2013, The Law Applicable to the Military Strategic Use of Outer Space
Conference Papers
Blake D, 2017, 'Maintaining United States leadership in the space domain'
Blake D, 2016, 'Space Law Issues in the Regulation of National Space Activities'
Blake D, 2012, 'Australian Interests in Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures for Outer Space'
Journal articles
Blake D, 2019, 'I Am Not a High Priest in a Secular Military!', Adelaide Law Review, vol. 40, pp. 505 - 518
Blake D, 2017, 'Call for Australia to head back into space', ROOM: The Space Journal, https://room.eu.com/article/call-for-australia-to-head-back-into-space
Blake D, 2011, 'Military use of civil registered aircraft', Annals of Air and Space Law
Blake D, 2011, 'Operations Bastille and Falconer: Legal Support to Commanders', Australian Defence Force Journal
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
Blake D, 2020, Australia’s Essential Contribution to ‘Space Domain Awareness’
Blake D, 2018, A New Horizon: Australia in the Global Space Race
Blake D, 2013, The Laws of Star Wars - the need for a ’Manual of International Law Applicable to Space Warfare’
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

Space law, space policy, space strategy, law of armed conflict, military law, military uses of outer space, international law on the use of force

Blake D, 2018, Yes we’ve got a space agency – but our industry needs ‘Space Prize Australia', https://theconversation.com/yes-weve-got-a-space-agency-but-our-industry-needs-space-prize-australia-98703
Blake D, 2018, The problems with small satellites – and what Australia’s Space Agency can do to help, https://theconversation.com/the-problems-with-small-satellites-and-what-australias-space-agency-can-do-to-help-108156
Blake D; Stephens D, 2017, We’re drafting a legal guide to war in space. Hopefully we’ll never need to use it, https://theconversation.com/were-drafting-a-legal-guide-to-war-in-space-hopefully-well-never-need-to-use-it-86677
Blake D; Freeland S, 2017, As the world embraces space, the 50 year old Outer Space Treaty needs adaptation, https://theconversation.com/as-the-world-embraces-space-the-50-year-old-outer-space-treaty-needs-adaptation-79833
Blake D, 2017, Step up Australia – We Need a Traffic Cop in Space, https://theconversation.com/step-up-australia-we-need-a-traffic-cop-in-space-86464
Organisational units
lensSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences
Sub Theme
lensFuture Operations