Home > Autonomous Weapons and Their Compliance with International Humanitarian Law

Autonomous Weapons and Their Compliance with International Humanitarian Law


Asif Khan


Farkhanda Zia


Faculty of shaia and Law


LLM International Law


International Islamic University-Islamabad-Pakistan

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International Law




Autonomous Weapons, International Humanitarian Law


This research will firstly, try to analyze as well try to bring light on the recent entry of autonomous weapons together with the issues pertaining to the usage of these lethal weapons and the compliance of these A.I based fully autonomous weapons with the laws, rules and principle of war including their compliance with international humanitarian law. These weapons are fully automatic and autonomous skilled with acquiring target without human emotion or cultural limitations. These weapons are capable of selecting the target and executing the targets on their own, without any human interference. It can be enabled to assess the situational setting on a combat zone and to make a decision on the required attack according to the processed information. These artificial intelligence-based weapons totally lack all the characteristic of human intelligence and decisions that make humans subject and accountable to rules and norms. Recently, the usage and deployment of these AI machines had posed threat to the norms and principle of laws of war, they have posed the fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and to comply with the principle of international humanitarian law such as principle of distinction, principle of proportionality, principle of Military Necessity and Article 36 of additional protocol-I to Geneva conventions of 1949 etc. As autonomous weapons are not able to distinguish between soldiers and civilians they create a serious issue of whether they should be banned or not. Secondly, will tryto attempt and explain the question of responsibility for usingautonomous weapons, An autonomous weapon does not have agency, moral or otherwise, and subsequently cannot be held accountable for its actions. Moreover, if autonomous weapons were used in limited situations in the belief that they could function with discrimination, it would be problematic to choose exactly who was accountable for mishaps


With the advent of technology, autonomy in modern devices is increasing day by day specially weapons though that be offensive or defensive weapons, technology is rapidly advancing and brings total autonomy in modern weapons ever closer to reality. Complete autonomy in weapons is alarming situations for global community because of their character Military commanders has no control during war on the ground. Such autonomy in weapons brings three major challenges to international humanitarian law. Chief among them are, control and conduct of such weapons from thousand miles away secondly, the principle of compliance of international humanitarian law, as complete autonomy in weapons would make it hard to comply with the basic principle of IHL. Finally, the most important challenge it poses is that who will be responsible in case these autonomous weapons violates the code and conduct of warfare. After analyzing it is crystal clear that bringing complete autonomy in weapons by introducing artificial intelligence in weapons would make them completely out of loop. States must adopt new international law regarding banning or at least bringing them within the parameter of Article 36 of CCW. As already mentioned that the basic and corner principle of international Humanitarian law is to protects civilian and those which are not legitimate target during armed conflict. IHL lays down basic principles that all means and method of warfare including deployment of such weapons into battlefield must be within the parameters of IHL principle. Such as, principle of proportionality, distinction, military necessity and precautions during armed conflict to avoid targeting innocent persons. Additionally, International Humanitarian law also states principles regarding deployment and construction of such weapons that causes superfluous injuries. According to article 36 of AP-1 all state parties to convention are obliged to entirely assess the legality of new weapons. On the other hand Autonomous weapons is one of the major and most alarming problem IHL and international community is facing in the area of weapons, such technological based weapons as already mentioned are based on A.I Thus complete autonomy in these A.I based weapons pose major problem regarding the basic norms of international humanitarian law that strictly regulates the deployment of autonomous weapons. Any deployment that does not comply with these norms is unlawful. Thus, the problem is of two folds: firstly, autonomous weapons noncompliance with the principle of distinction. Secondly, non-compliance of these weapon system with the principle of proportionality. The presence of such lethal armed weapons makes it inevitable that they will not threaten civilians or all other protected groups during armed conflict. Another basic question such weapons poses is question of responsibility, Whenever violation during armed conflict occurs, who shall be made responsible, the one who deployed such weapons, the developer or the initiator.




2022-04-01 04:22:58


2022-04-03 00:02:51