Hasta la vista, LAWS : where do we stand on the long-debated ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems ?
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Humanitäres Völkerrecht = Journal of international law of peace and armed conflict, Bd. 1, H. 3-4, 2018, p. 195-208
“Killer Robots” are well known from Hollywood movies, acting independently, tenacious, human-like in their decisions. Autonomous weapon machinery is, however, not a mere fiction any longer. Various states have installed this type of technology already, mostly for defence purposes. Correspondingly, the controversy about the legality of autonomous weapons is fought fiercely. Albeit the debate has just started after 2000, the time still does not appear nigh to finding an international agreement about their legality and ethicality. Many human rights lawyers urge for a ban on those weapon systems; militaries and utilitarian states argue against such ban. This article follows up on the current debate foremost within the Group of Governmental Experts and engages in the discussion. It describes some of the new weapons currently in use and focuses on the core issues in international (humanitarian) law and ethics. Finally, it argues in favour of a ban which can only be based on ethical grounds but not legal ones.
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