- NATO's targeting process: ensuring human control over (and lawful use of) 'autonomous' weapons
- Book title
- Autonomous systems: issues for defence policymakers
- Pages (from-to)
- Norfolk, VA: NATO HQ SACT
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL)
The prospect of the use of so-called autonomous weapon systems has raised significant legal and moral concerns. This chapter contributes to the debate by providing an alternative perspective to the current dominant focus on the technological capabilities of future weapons. The author argues that machines do not have to be able to distinguish and make proportionality calculations. No rule in IHL requires weapons to do so. It is ‘merely’ the effects of attack decisions that need to be in accordance with relevant norms. Human judgement is required to decide under what circumstances to allow a particular system - with its specific abilities - to operate. NATO’s targeting process serves as an example how weapons may be used effectively and responsibly, partly by its incorporation of legal norms. The author concludes that weapons programmed to perform targeting tasks without direct human input may be lawfully used in many situations if the state employing the system would follow similar steps as described in NATO’s targeting doctrine and if humans continue to make the critical decisions about when and how to employ the system given the conditions ruling at the time.
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