Legal-policy challenges of armed drones and autonomous weapon systems

Authored by: Kenneth Anderson , Matthew C. Waxman

Routledge Handbook of War, Law and Technology

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138084551
eBook ISBN: 9781315111759
Adobe ISBN:


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Historically, new weapon technologies often generate anxiety about their presumed deleterious effects on the law and ethics of warfare. This is especially true of weapons that reduce one’s own warriors’ exposure to risk while posing new threats to the enemy, or that might pose greater risks to civilians. Concerns that armed, remotely piloted or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and autonomous weapon systems will erode constraints on how force is used, for example, echo tropes once associated with the advent of crossbows, submarines, and air bombardment. As with those previous weapon technologies, one immediate reaction is unrealistic calls either to prohibit them or to develop specific rules for them that would tend to nullify the new military advantages of the weapon.

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