A Manual Adapting the Law of Armed Conflict to Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems

In April 2016, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) will hold a week-long meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) in Geneva. Previous meetings were held in 2014 and 2015 to discuss the legality of LAWS under the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and international human rights law. Some nations and many NGOs have advocated the strict regulation or even outright banning of LAWS via a new protocol to the CCW. Only a few nations, including the United States, have thus far resisted calls for an outright ban on LAWS. The U.S. should continue to resist such calls, and should work with allies and like-minded nations to initiate a broader discussion of LAWS and how long-standing LOAC principles may be applied to these cutting-edge weapons. The most effective vehicle to address such issues is a LOAC manual on LAWS. The U.S. should lead an effort to develop such a manual as an alternative to the regulation, or banning, of LAWS.

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