Autonomy in the battlespace : independently operating weapon systems and the law of armed conflict
International humanitarian law and the changing technology of war
Leiden ; Boston : M. Nijhoff, 2013
The author argues that, legally, autonomous unmanned systems can be employed only in the rarest of circumstances in light of the legal constraints inherent in the principles of distinction and proportionality. Thus, their potential deployment is limited to such an extent as to render them useless. In a first step, it retraces the history of autonomous weapons and differentiates future generations of autonomous weapon systems (AWS) from the current generation of weapons. It subsequently addresses the potential effect of AWS with respect to two cornerstones of IHL : the principle of distinction and the principle of proportionality. The last part contains concluding observations.