Blog: Who is responsible for the war crimes of killer robots?

Published 21 September 2018

Three military surveillance drones armed with hellfire missiles. Picture taken from Shutterstock. 

The difficulty in determining who is responsible for war crimes committed with the use of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) has led to rising legal concerns over their development.

States are facing the daunting task of trying to assess the technical, legal, ethical and policy questions raised by the development and use of LAWS in armed conflicts. The principle of individual criminal responsibility for war crimes is one of the core principles of international humanitarian law (IHL). Punishing individuals for war crimes which are considered grave violations of the law of armed conflict is at the heart of the system of enforcement of IHL.

In making policy choices on how autonomy is developed, urgent questions of criminal responsibility for war crimes committed by LAWS must be considered, writes Asser researcher Dr. Marta Bo in a new blog for the Graduate Institute (Geneva), where she recently started to work in the LAWS and War Crimes Project.

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