A Study on Lethal Autonomous Weapons System under International Humanitarian Law with Special Focus on Killer Robots

Ms. Apoorva Chandrachur and Ms. Shreya Chamaria
SVKM’s NMIMS Kirit P. Mehta School Of Law, India

Volume III, Issue IV, 2020

Through the rapid development and introduction of robotic systems for artificial intelligence, robots are starting to replace humans on the battlefield. Some military and robotics experts have speculated that, as they may be called, ‘killer robots’ are primarily regarded as lethal autonomous weapons which are capable of picking and engaging targets with minimal or any human interference at all. Even though the rapid implementation of such automated systems seems highly necessary for research and other exponents of automated systems, their creation has given rise to substantial concern among diplomats, human right activists, scientists, arms-advocates and others who dread that deploying lethal autonomous weapons in the battlefield will significantly diminish human control over war operations, conceivably resulting in grave violations of various laws, thereby weakening the barriers that have been built to refrain moving from traditional to nuclear wars. As per certain experts, Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) are capable of creating a “Third Revolution” in warfare system, following nuclear weapons. The lethal autonomous weapon system, like any weapons system, must be planned and operated in compliance with international law. The paper examines the context of lethal autonomous weapons and the global trends around the notion of lethal autonomous weaponry. It also assesses the validity under International Humanitarian Law of this kind of warfare method and evaluates the feasibility of such warfare systems while highlighting the recent developments and contemporary issues with respect to the warfare system. It is imperative to understand these issues as warfare systems like killer robots, if implemented, pose a grave threat to humanity and the foundation of laws protecting human dignity and life.

Keywords: Lethal autonomous weapons, civilians, war, violations, artificial intelligence.