International humanitarian law and policy on

Autonomous weapons

Autonomous weapons are not a work of science fiction from a distant dystopian future. They are an immediate cause of humanitarian concern and demand an urgent, international political response.

Northrop Grumman personnel conduct preoperational tests on a U.S. Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator aircraft.

An ethical humanitarian challenge

Increasingly, weapons that select and engage targets without human intervention are being developed and deployed – in the air, on land and at sea. Yet the unconstrained development and use of autonomous weapon systems pose serious legal, ethical and humanitarian challenges.

The ICRC has recommended that states adopt new, international legally binding rules to prohibit unpredictable autonomous weapons and those designed or used to apply force against persons, and to place strict restrictions on all others. That will help reduce the risk faced by people affected by war and uphold crucial protections under international humanitarian law.