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Implementing Article 36 Weapon Reviews in the Light of Increasing Autonomy in Weapon Systems

Publisher: SIPRI
November, 2015

Article 36 of Additional Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Conventions requires states to conduct legal reviews of all new weapons, means and methods of warfare in order to determine whether their use is prohibited by international law. However, reviewing the legality of weapons with automated and autonomous features presents a number of technical challenges. Such reviews demand complex procedures to test weapon performance and to evaluate the risks associated with unintended loss of control. As such assessments require significant technical and financial resources, there is a strong incentive for deepening cooperation and information sharing between states in the area of weapon reviews. Increased interaction can facilitate the identification of best practices and solutions to reduce costs associated with test and evaluation procedures.


I. Introduction

II. Back to basics: A brief introduction to Article 36 reviews

III. Reviewing the legality of weapons with automated and autonomous features

IV. Conclusions


Dr Vincent Boulanin is Director of the Governance of Artificial Intelligence Programme at SIPRI.