Remote-controlled weapons systems and the application of IHL
Host item entries:
Collegium, No. 41, Automne 2011, p. 57-61
As they continue to evolve and variants multiply, unmanned systems are allowing military forces to project power on an unprecedented scale and have introduced a new era of remote-controlled killing. In so doing, they are raising profound questions for international humanitarian law. However, these technologies may also be unexpectedly and somewhat ironically giving unprecedented traction, transparency and relevance to jus in bello principles protecting civilians from the effects of hostilities – and may ultimately force States and individuals to confront revitalised and new duties to avoid causing harm to civilian populations. In addition to the transparency that comes with the persistent surveillance provided by unmanned systems, many of the factors that have been cited as excuses or justifications for incidental civilian casualties in the past are profoundly affected or even eliminated by these systems.