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

Homepage of the Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Portal News

A New Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Online Portal

February 2017

We are launching an updated version of our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) portal, an online database that identifies and classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL). The updated version includes all conflicts that have emerged over the last five years and are still ongoing.

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

Central African Republic, Ouham province. Member of the Central African Armed Forces. Training

Training on International Weapons Law

2017

The Geneva Academy offers professional training on weapons law, covering a wide range of subjects including the definition of weapons; Article 36’s weapons review; means and methods of warfare or new weapons technologies.

Read more

UN Mission patrols disputed area in Sudan Short Course

Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict and Fragile Situations

6 April - May 2017

This course provides a concise and systematic treatment of the peacebuilding process in post-conflict and fragile situations.

Read more

Peru, Ayacucho, Forensic Institut. With the help of the prosecutor's office staff, families try to identify the clothes of their missing relatives. Project

Standards of Proof in Fact Finding

Completed in January 2013

Several ad hoc fact-finding and inquiry commissions have been established to assess some of the most serious situations of human rights and humanitarian law violations across the world. With such mechanisms gaining influence, the question arises of whether a minimum formal standard of proof (or degree of certainty) exists or is required when such bodies adjudicate on such serious matters.

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