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Emerging technologies and international humanitarian law

Emerging technologies and international humanitarian law
Decorative Scales of Justice with blurred National flag of different countries, concept of International Law and Order, focus on the scales. Photo: tlegend/Shutterstock

While technology determines how wars can be fought, international humanitarian law (IHL) determines how wars should be fought. Any new technology of warfare must be used in compliance with IHL. Some technological developments may, however, raise challenges in terms of how the rules of IHL should be interpreted and applied.

This initiative aims to increase the understanding of how IHL applies to new military technologies and the limits IHL may place on the development and use of such, and how these limits are interpreted and applied by states.

SIPRI explores themes such as (a) how to conduct legal reviews of new weapons, means and methods of warfare that are based on emerging technologies; (b) how the introduction of new technologies affects the user’s ability to comply with cardinal principles of IHL, including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution; and (c) how accountability frameworks apply in case of incidents that may count as IHL violations.

Research staff

Dr Vincent Boulanin is Director of the Governance of Artificial Intelligence Programme at SIPRI.
Nivedita Raju is a Researcher in the SIPRI Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme.
Laura Bruun is a Researcher in the SIPRI Governance of Artificial Intelligence Programme.