The Law that Applies to Autonomous Weapon Systems

17 ASIL INSIGHTS 4 (January 2013)

6 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2013

See all articles by Jeffrey Thurnher

Jeffrey Thurnher

Office of the US Army Judge Advocate General; U.S. Army

Date Written: January 18, 2013


Even though most robotics experts predict fully autonomous weapon systems will not be available for use on the battlefield for a number of years, the debate over the lawfulness of such systems has nonetheless begun. At the forefront of this debate is the underlying question of whether autonomous weapon systems will ever be able to fully comply with the tenets of the law of armed conflict.This article succinctly explores the broader legal concerns over autonomous weapons by articulating the relevant precepts of law.

Keywords: autonomous, autonomous weapon, law of armed conflict, war, international law, distinction, proportionality, precautions in attack

Suggested Citation

Thurnher, Jeffrey and Thurnher, Jeffrey, The Law that Applies to Autonomous Weapon Systems (January 18, 2013). 17 ASIL INSIGHTS 4 (January 2013), Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey Thurnher (Contact Author)

U.S. Army ( email )

United States

Office of the US Army Judge Advocate General ( email )

2200 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 22204
United States

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