International Law Studies


A recurrent response to the development of increasingly autonomous weapons systems involves questions of accountability for serious violations of the law of armed conflict. Opinion is divided across a spectrum ranging from claims of an accountability vacuum and consequent calls for a complete ban to assertions that the weapons will present no new challenges and that the existing legal framework is capable of adaptation to emerging technologies. This article focuses on the expanded role played by developers of autonomous weapons systems. It describes the novel contributions made by developers of these advanced systems that raise the potential for them to be held accountable for violations of the law; outlines the most likely modes of criminal responsibility; and discusses the complexities of existing statute and case law which may present significant obstacles to establishing developer liability.