Of robots and rules : autonomous weapon systems in the law of armed conflict
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Georgetown journal of international law, Vol. 48, no. 4, 2017, p. 1337-1366
This Note conducts an analysis of the legal regime surrounding the construction and use of autonomous weapons systems (AWS). In order to do so, it examines similar weapons systems utilized by the U.S. military and current U.S. doctrine on the use of robotic autonomy in weapons. An overview of law of international humanitarian law (IHL) principles will also be explored. Subsequently, those legal principles are applied to AWS to investigate whether these weapons systems should be legally prohibited and how certain uses should be restricted. This Note asserts that there is nothing from a legal perspective that fundamentally prohibits the use of AWS in combat situations. However, similar to other weapons, it is the implementation of AWS that could come into conflict with IHL. Key recommendations include limiting the use of AWS to situations where a system can reliably and predictably abide by the core principles of IHL.