Autonomous weapons systems : a paradigm shift for the law of armed conflict ?
Robin Geiß and Henning Lahmann
Research handbook on remote warfare
Cheltenham ; Northampton : E. Elgar, 2017
The development of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) is widely considered a genuine revolution in weapons technology and of military affairs. To date, truly autonomous weapons systems do not yet exist. However, the majority of experts believe that it is only a matter of time until such systems will be ready for deployment. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has rightly pointed out that, already today, different critical functions within existing weapons systems are carried out autonomously, that is, without human intervention. This chapter attempts to examine AWS within the context of current international law. After outlining the legal issues connected with the employment of AWS more generally, the chapter will focus on the questions of accountability and responsibility as regards the conduct of autonomously acting weapons. If a machine’s actions amount to war crimes or other breaches of a norm of international law, who can be held legally responsible, and according to which regime.