The Importance of Flexibility in Regulating Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems

Tarisa Yasin

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


The debate on the development and use of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), which will also be referred to as weapon systems, has been going on for several years now. A LAWS, as defined by the International Committee of the Red Cross, is ‘a weapon that can select (i.e. search for, detect, identify, track or select) and attack (i.e. use force against, neutralize, damage or destroy)’ targets with little to no human intervention. Therefore, a key issue in the debate is whether it is necessary for human control to be retained over the use of a LAWS to ensure that it complies with existing international humanitarian law (IHL) principles such as the principles of distinction and proportionality as well as the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks.

The exploration of this key issue has also led to discussions around whether new rules within IHL need to be drafted in order to effectively regulate LAWS. However, if further regulations governing the development and use of LAWS are to be drafted, there are important factors such as levels of autonomy in weapon systems, the stages of a weapon system’s lifecycle, and the various forms of human control in each stage that need to be considered. In light of these factors, there is a need for regulations on LAWS to be flexible.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalANZSIL Perspective
VolumeEdition 23
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'The Importance of Flexibility in Regulating Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this