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International Law in the Age of Asymmetrical Warfare, Virtual Cockpits and Autonomous Robots
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Law, Department of Law.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5935-0676
2014 (English)In: International Law and Changing Perceptions of Security: liber amicorum Said Mahmoudi / [ed] Jonas Ebbesson, Marie Jacobsson, Mark Klamberg, David Langlet, Pål Wrange, Leiden, Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2014, 152-170 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The use of unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) in the context of counterterrorism operations challenges the traditional conception of security, it is a change in the perception of nature and sources of threats. This text focuses on some of the most contentious issues. First, will the use of UCAVs affect how we perceive state intervention in the territory of other states? Second, the US use UCAVs to target enemies as a part of its counterterrorism operations. This has raised several concerns, including a discussion on the relevant legal framework. Should counterterrorism operate under the armed-conflict or law enforcement model? Under what circumstances are targeted killings allowed under international law? This discussion is influenced by the fact that almost all targeted killings are directed against non-State actors and generally carried out while the targeted person is not visibly engaged in active combat. The use of drones and other robotic weapons concerns human rights law, humanitarian law and the law on the use of force. All three bodies of law may be applicable to a situation, each of them regulates different aspects of the use of force. It is argued as not necessary to adopt new, specific rules on drones. Missiles launched by a drone present the same legal issues as any other weapon system, the principles of necessity, distinction, proportionality and precaution still applies. To the extent drones at the present time are used in an illegitimate manner is rather a question of non-compliance with the existing law, less an absence of adequate rules. However, a different approach may be justified when it comes to autonomous weapons systems capable of taking targeting decisions. It is arguably the military commander deploying such systems that have the ultimate responsibility.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Leiden, Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2014. 152-170 p.
Keyword [en]
Drones, direct participation in the hostilities, targeted killing, lethal autonomous robotics
National Category
Law and Society
Research subject
Public International Law
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-244382DOI: 10.1163/9789004274587_011ISBN: 9789004274587ISBN: 9789004274570OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-244382DiVA: diva2:788689
Available from: 2015-02-16 Created: 2015-02-16 Last updated: 2015-02-26Bibliographically approved

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