Tuesday, 05 July 2022

Iurii Usmanov*

Marta Chernychka**

Maritime Autonomous Weapon Systems from the Standpoint of International Humanitarian Law

Full text PDF [EN]

Suggested citation:

Usmanov, Iu., & Chernychka, M. (2022). Maritime Autonomous Weapon Systems from the Standpoint of International Humanitarian Law. Lex Portus, 8(2), 33-53. https://doi.org/10.26886/2524-101X.8.2.2022.2

*PhD, Director of the Institute of International Relations at the Kyiv International University (49, Lvivska St., Kyiv, Ukraine)

**Institute of International Relations at the Kyiv International University (49, Lvivska St., Kyiv, Ukraine)



Modern armed conflicts demonstrate constant military transformation, and the weapon of the future will be precisely what we now name by the word “autonomous weapon systems” (AWS). Despite many advantages of using it, the possibility of lawful use of AWS and especially unmanned maritime systems as a kind of AWS remains a debatable issue in international law. It is primarily due to the loss of human control over the use of lethal force and the autonomy of such systems. AWS are already widely used by many countries, including Israel, the US, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and others, to protect their borders, increasing the response times and effectiveness of border forces both on land and at sea. Authors highlight a list of issues, namely the absence of the conventional definition of the term “autonomous weapon systems”, the possibility of individual prosecution due to the misuse of AWS, the protection of human life, privacy and appropriate remedies, the compliance of the use of AWS with the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants, military necessity and proportionality, precautions, etc. The problems of using autonomous weapon systems lie in both legal and ethical areas. Such uncertainty automatically narrows the protection of human rights in armed conflicts, which is unacceptable and illegal. Therefore, it is proposed at the regulatory level to prohibit states from using fully autonomous weapon systems and unmanned maritime systems as a kind of AWS that could use lethal force against humans, as well as to provide for the definition of AWS, their types, and principles of use, clearly define and limit their scope within which states could guarantee respect for human rights, as they are responsible for compliance with IHL and international human rights law.

The keywords: autonomous weapon systems, AWS, drones, naval warfare, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, the law of the armed conflict.



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Editorial Board Address

Ukraine, Odesa, Fontanska Doroga, 23
National University “Odessa Academy of Law”,
Department of Maritime and Customs Law