Autonomous Weapon Systems under International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law

Started in January 2015

Would the use of weapon systems that can detect, select and fire at targets without human intervention comply with international legal standards for the protection of the human person, and if so, under what circumstances? This is one of the key questions in the current debate about autonomous weapon systems (AWS), also called ‘killer robots’, weapon systems that by some definitions don’t yet exist.

This project examines the legal requirements that the use of AWS would need to comply with in a number of scenarios envisaged by proponents of increasing autonomy in weapon systems.

It looks beyond compliance with the international humanitarian law (IHL) rules on targeting and also examines other rules of IHL and international human rights law, including standards on the use of force for law enforcement purposes.

Drawing on case law dealing with other weapon technologies and autonomous systems, it asks in particular: Who or what may force be directed at? Where and when may AWS be used? What are the procedural legal requirements in terms of the planning, conduct and aftermath of AWS use?

Research outputs will be published by the end of 2016.

PROJECT'S DOCUMENTS

RESEARCHER

Picture of Maya Brehm

Maya Brehm

Researcher

Maya Brehm's research focuses on the regulation of weapons under international law.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Vover page of the In-Brief No.7 Human Rights Obligations of Armed Non-State Actors: An Exploration of the Practice of the UN Human Rights Council  News

How the UN Human Rights Council Addresses Armed Non-State Actors: Key Challenges and Way Forward

February 2017

Ten years after the establishment of the UN Human Rights Council, our new publication highlights the current challenges related to the Council’s approach to armed non-state actors and proposes recommendations to better address this phenomenon.

Read more

Cover page of the book The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary News

‘The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary’ receives the American Society of International Law 2017 Certificate of Merit

February 2017

We are pleased to announce that the American Society of International Law has awarded their 2017 Certificate of Merit for ‘High Technical Craftsmanship and Utility to Practicing Lawyers and Scholars’ to the book The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, edited by Professors Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta, and Marco Sassòli.

Read more

A wheelchair completely destroyed after the bombing of a civilian area Project

Improving the Protection of Persons with Disabilities during Armed Conflict

Started in May 2016

This project aims to ensure better protection of and assistance for persons with disabilities in situations of armed conflict or its aftermath by identifying legal obligations to protect and assist persons with disabilities during conflict, and the policies and practices required to put these obligations into effect.

Read more

Putis, Peru. The clothes of missing child found in a mass grave close to the village at the exhibition organized for the relatives of victimes. The family will be able to identify their missing relatives. Project

The Duty to Investigate Under International Law

Started in January 2014

This project, initiated in 2014 by the Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law, Professor Noam Lubell, intends to identify, via expert meetings and research, a set of best practices that states should apply when they investigate or examine alleged violations or misconduct in situations of armed conflict.

Read more