We are, once again, witnessing a technological revolution in warfare: the progressing autonomy in weapons systems. Autonomy refers to capabilities of weapons to operate without human guidance, pertaining to less controversial functions such as navigation and reconnaissance – but also to the alarming prospect of robots making the killing decision. The latter in particular has given rise to fundamental ethical and legal concerns:To what extent is it morally acceptable to use robots in military operations? Are autonomous weapons capable of compliance with International Humanitarian Law? Who can be held accountable for their actions and how? Responding to these concerns, this Spotlight echoes the calls for a ban on killer robots, and proposes to adopt a new principle, which would turn meaningful human control of lethal weapons into an obligation under International Humanitarian Law.
Rosert, Elvira (2017): How to Regulate Autonomous Weapons. Steps to Codify Meaningful Human Control as a Principle of International Humanitarian Law, PRIF Spotlight 6/2017, Frankfurt/M.