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Can Autonomous Weapons be compliant with International Humanitarian Law? Lords Committee to take evidence

22 March 2023

At 10am tomorrow, Thursday 23 March the Lords Artificial Intelligence in Weapons Systems Committee will hold its first public evidence session on whether autonomous weapons systems can be used in compliance with international humanitarian law.

The Committee will hear from:

  • Professor Noam Lubell, School of Law, University of Essex
  • Daragh Murray, Senior Lecturer and IHSS Fellow, School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London
  • Georgia Hinds, Legal Advisor, International Committee of the Red Cross

The evidence session will be available to watch in Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster or on Parliament TV.

Possible question topics include:

  • Defining autonomous weapons systems
  • Autonomous weapons systems’ compliance with international humanitarian law
  • Regulation of the use of autonomous weapons systems
  • Accountability of autonomous weapons systems

Background:

Autonomous weapons systems have been defined as systems that can select and attack a target without human intervention. These systems could revolutionise warfare, with some suggesting that they would be faster, more accurate and more resilient than existing weapons systems and could limit the casualties of war.

However, concerns have arisen about the ethics of these systems, how they can be used safely and reliably, whether they risk escalating wars more quickly, and their compliance with international humanitarian law.

Throughout its inquiry the Committee will be looking at a wide range of issues surrounding autonomous weapons systems, including:

  • The challenges, risks and benefits associated with them.
  • The technical, legal and ethical safeguards that are necessary to ensure that they are used safely, reliably and accountably.
  • The sufficiency of current UK policy and the state of international policymaking on autonomous weapons systems.

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