DILEMA Lecture by Tim Sweijs

Published 9 April 2024

On 21 May 2024 at 17:00, Dr Tim Sweijs (HCSS) will deliver a DILEMA lecture on the topic of ‘Military AI and International Norms Development: Quo Vadis?’. After the lecture, there will be a Q&A session moderated by Dr Bérénice Boutin (DILEMA Project), followed by a networking reception.

Click here to register for this event. The lecture will take place in-person at the Asser Institute.


Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have started to manifest themselves in the military domain, first gradually and at present more rapidly.  Military applications of AI do not only affect the conduct of war in conflict theatres around the world but they also reshape the dynamics of security competition in peace time. Governments and international organisations have started formulating norms to steer the development and use of military AI applications towards an optimal trade-off between maximising benefits and minimising risks whilst adhering to ethical principles. Efforts at norm development and setting confront a number of challenges, however. These derive partly from the nature of AI applications and partly from pressures intrinsic to interstate competition. Norm entrepreneurs must take note of these challenges against the backdrop of rapid developments in AI and its uses in the military domain. In his DILEMA Lecture, Dr Sweijs analyses challenges for norm development in this sphere, examines existing normative initiatives at international and national levels, assesses strengths, weaknesses and gaps along seven focus areas in existing normative regimes, and sketches a preliminary agenda for norms development for AI in the military domain.

About the Speaker

Dr Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands’ War Studies Research Centre of the Netherlands Defence Academy. He is the Scientific Advisor to the Secretariat of the Global Commission on Responsible Artificial Intelligence in the Military Domain (https://hcss.nl/gcreaim/), an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The goal of REAIM is to help promote mutual awareness and understanding among the many communities working on issues related to the global governance of AI in military domain.

For close to two decades, he has advised international organisations, governments and defence departments across the globe. Dr Sweijs has provided expert testimony to the United Nations Security Council, the European Parliament, the Dutch Parliament, as well as to NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly. He regularly comments on international affairs in national and international media and (guest-)lectures at the Netherlands Defence Academy, Leiden University, and King’s College London.

Dr Sweijs his work is multidisciplinary in nature and straddles political science, science and technology, strategic studies, and war studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous books, articles and studies in strategic foresight, interstate coercion, contemporary and future war, emerging technologies including but not limited to AI, international norms and regimes, alliances and alignments, defence and national security planning for small and middle powers, and strategy and capability development. In addition to many reports and articles, recent book projects include a volume on future war titled Beyond Ukraine: Debating the Future of War (Hurst, 2024) and a book on coercion and interstate crisis escalation titled The Use and Utility of Ultimata in Coercive Diplomacy (Palgrave Macmillan, May 2023).

About the DILEMA Lecture Series

The DILEMA Lecture Series regularly invites academics and other experts working on issues related to the project to present their work and share reflections with a general audience comprising researchers, students, and professionals. Topics of interest within the scope of this lecture series include technical perspectives on military applications of AI, philosophical enquires into human control and human agency over technologies, analyses of international law in relation to (military) AI, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and interdisciplinary contributions related to these topics.