[DILEMA roundtable] International governance of military AI: The way forward

28 November 2023
  • Starts at: 17:00h
  • Fee: Free
  • Venue: Asser Institute
  • Organiser: DILEMA project
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On Tuesday 28 November 2023, the DILEMA project is organising the roundtable ‘International Governance of Military AI: The Way Forward’. The event will discuss ongoing initiatives for the governance of military AI at the international and regional levels, and explore the role of existing legal regimes in guiding the development and acquisition of military AI.

As artificial intelligence (AI) technologies fast develop, the question of the regulation and governance of their potential applications in the military domain raises crucial challenges. This roundtable will promote discussion and exchanges amongst experts from both academia and policy, as well as with the general public, in order to move forward the debate on international governance of military AI.

In the past decade, multilateral discussions on the challenges of emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapon systems have taken place in Geneva in the context of the meetings of the Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Although useful to seek a global common understanding and reach some consensus on the regulation and governance of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) and other applications of AI in the military domain, these debates have progressed relatively slowly. At the same time, technological capabilities keep progressing, and an increasing number of States are actively developing and using AI technologies in a military context.

As the topic of international governance of military applications of AI becomes ever pressing, other initiatives have more recently emerged. In 2023, the Government of the Netherlands launched the REAIM initiative on Responsible Artificial Intelligence in the Military Domain, which seeks to achieve global agreement on the way forward in relation to the governance of military AI. The same year, a regional initiative led by Latin American and the Caribbean countries resulted in the Belén Communiqué,  which calls for ‘urgent negotiation of an international legally binding instrument, with prohibitions and regulations with regard to autonomy in weapons systems, in order to ensure compliance with International Law’.

The aim of this roundtable is two-fold. First, it seeks to take stock of the ongoing initiatives for the governance of military AI at the international and regional levels, and to engage in a discussion on how to move the debate forward in order to achieve the goal of developing global governance frameworks for military AI. Second, it aims to explore the role of existing and established legal regimes in guiding the development and acquisition of military AI, with a focus on ensuring compliance prior to any harmful use. 

Confirmed speakers

  • Daan Kayser (PAX): Overview of the international processes and initiatives on the regulation and governance of AWS, and thoughts on a possible normative framework
  • Dr. Bérénice Boutin (Asser Institute): The duty of states to respect and ensure respect with international law in the design, development, and adoption of military AI
  • Dr. Machiko Kanetake (Utrecht University): Due diligence and corporate liability of the defence industry


17:00 – 17:05    Opening

17:05 – 17:45    Presentations by the speakers

17:45 – 18:20    Discussion and Q&A

18:20 – 19:00    Reception

Background materials  

About the speakers

Dr Bérénice Boutin is Senior Researcher in International Law at the Asser Institute, Coordinator of the Research Strand on Disruptive Technologies in Peace and Security, and project leader of the NWO-funded  project Designing International Law and Ethics into Military Artificial Intelligence (DILEMA). Her research explores the mutual impacts between new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and international law. This includes the role of international law in the governance and regulation of technologies, and the impact of new technologies on core notions and concepts of international law.

Machiko Kanetake is Associate Professor of Public International Law at Utrecht University and the director of the Master’s Programme in Public International Law. She is a member of the Management Board of the Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe (RENFORCE). Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam and held visiting appointments at NYU School of Law, Harvard Law School, and King’s College London. She is an editor of the Leiden Journal of International Law.

Daan Kayser is project leader autonomous weapons at peace organization PAX. He has worked on this issue since 2016. His work has two focus areas. First of all, he conducts research into development and deployment of weapons with increasing autonomy. Secondly, he works together with state representatives to work towards a treaty on autonomous weapons and has taken part in the international discussions at the UN for the past 8 years.