The Principle of Proportionality in an Era of High Technology
Forthcoming, Oxford University Press, Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare Book Series - Complex Battlespaces: The Law of Armed Conflict and the Dynamics of Modern Warfare, edited by Christopher M. Ford and Winston S. Williams, (2018)
23 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2018
Date Written: January 10, 2018
This chapter, in the forthcoming book Complex Battlespaces: The Law of Armed Conflict and the Dynamics of Modern Warfare (published by Oxford University Press) explores the application of a key principle of the law of armed conflict – proportionality – in the context of new and emerging weapon systems and methods of warfare. The relentless pursuit of new military technologies by states continues to yield expanding lists of technology-related issues for lawyers to consider in applying the law of armed conflict in complex battlespaces on land, sea, air, space, and in cyberspace. Foremost among these issues is the challenge presented by the principle of proportionality, requiring military forces to refrain from causing excessive damage to civilians and civilian objects when attacking military objectives. New weapon systems in complex battlespaces continue to increasingly force lawyers and decision makers to revisit, reevaluate and struggle in new contexts with the “equitable balance between humanitarian requirements and the sad necessities of war.” Some technological developments may, however, also present opportunities for the principle of proportionality to achieve greater relevance to the conduct of armed conflicts and even contribute to improved compliance by states. To illustrate these challenges and opportunities, this chapter examines the application of the principle of proportionality in modern armed conflicts with respect to several critical yet still evolving military technologies: unmanned aerial vehicles, autonomous weapon systems, cyber capabilities, and outer space technologies.
Keywords: international humanitarian law, law of war, armed conflict, international law, national security, unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, autonomous weapons, artificial intelligence, cyber, cyberspace, cyber operations, outer space, space law
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation