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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2021/22 Prof. Dr. Silja Vöneky

Prof. Dr. Silja Vöneky

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
International Law

Internal Senior Fellow
March 2019 - December 2021

Room 01 023
Phone +49 (0) 761-203 97337
Fax +49 (0) 761-203 97451


Prof. Dr. Silja Voeneky is the Professor of Public International Law, Comparative Law and Ethics of Law, University of Freiburg and an associated member of the Institute für "Staatswissenschaft" and Philosophy of Law, University of Freiburg. She was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School in 2015-2016. Currently she serves as a member of the German Federal Foreign Office's Public International Law Advisory Board, the Ethics Council of the Max-Planck-Society, and is appointed as arbitrator of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

Her areas of research include the international governance of scientific and technological innovations, the interdependence of ethics and law, as well as International Environmental Law, Humanitarian Law, International Security Law, and Human Rights Law.

Voeneky previously served as the Director of a Heidelberg Max Planck Research Group. She was appointed by the Federal Government as a member of the German Ethics Council and led the Council's Working Group on Biosecurity. Since 2001, Silja Voeneky has been a legal advisor to several German federal ministries and agencies.

Born in Germany, Voeneky studied Law and Philosophy of Law at the Universities of Freiburg, Bonn, Heidelberg, and Edinburgh (UK) and holds law degrees from the University of Heidelberg, she did her clerkship at the Kammergericht Berlin.

Selected Publications

  • Silja Voeneky, Human Rights and Legitimate Governance of Existential and Global Catastrophic Risks, in: S. Voeneky/G. Neuman (eds.), Human Rights, Democracy, and Legitimacy in Times of Disorder, CUP, forthcoming 2018
  • Silja Voeneky, Commentary, Art. 136-148: Common Heritage of Mankind, in: A. Proelss (ed.), United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: A Commentary, 2017, OUP, pp. 949-1052 (together with A. Hoefelmeier, F. Beck)
  • Silja Voeneky, Espionage, Security Interests, and Human Rights in the Second Machine Age: NSA Mass Surveillance and the Framework of Public International Law, in: R. Miller (ed.), Privacy & Power: A Transatlantic Dialogue in the Shadow of the NSA-Affair, CUP, 2016, pp. 492-507
  • Silja Voeneky, Implementation and Enforcement of International Humanitarian Law (Chapter 14), in: D. Fleck (ed.), The Handbook Of International Humanitarian Law, 3rd ed., OUP 2013, pp. 647-699
  • Silja Voeneky (co-ed), Ethics and Law - The Ethicalization of Law / Ethik und Recht - Ethisierung des Rechts, Heidelberg 2013, 456 p (togehter with B. Beylage-Haarmann, A. Höfelmeier, A.-K. Hübler (co-eds.))

FRIAS Research Project

Responsible Artificial Intelligence: Normative aspects of the interaction of humans and intelligent systems

Intelligent systems capable of autonomous behavior and self-learning, whether in medical devices or self-driving vehicles, are the core technology behind the next wave of industrial innovation. In this research focus, we will investigate jointly and from different perspectives ethical, legal, philosophical and social aspects as well as benefits and risks of this impending transformation. In the legal and governance domain, for example, we will examine whether national and international legislations, regulations, treaties, soft law norms and codes of conduct adequately govern the interactions between humans and intelligent systems and adjudicate liability appropriately. We will also study algorithmic and hardware mechanisms for safeguarding users of intelligent software and robots. From a philosophical perspective, we will study the impact of these technologies on ethical theories and on concepts of agency and action. The project provides a foundational core for the interdisciplinary study of ethical, legal, social and other aspects of autonomous intelligent systems at the University of Freiburg.