Lethal robotic technologies : the implications for human rights and international humanitarian law
comment by Philip Alston
Host item entries:
Journal of law, information and science, Vol. 21, no. 2, 2011/2012, p. 35-60
This analysis is predicated on three principal assumptions. The first is that the new robotic technologies are developing very rapidly and that the unmanned, lethal weapons carrying vehicles that are currently in operation will, before very long, be operating on an autonomous basis in relation to many and perhaps most of their key functions, including in particular the decision to actually deploy lethal force in a given situation. The second is that these technologies have very important ramifications for human rights in general and for the right to life in particular, and that they raise issues that need to be addressed urgently, before it is too late. The third is that, although a large part of the research and technological innovation currently being undertaken is driven by military and related concerns, there is no inherent reason why human rights and humanitarian law considerations cannot be proactively factored into the design and operationalisation of the new technologies.