The idea that using “killer robots” in armed conflict is unacceptable because they are not human is at the heart of nearly every critique of autonomous weapons. Some of those critiques are deontological, such as the claim that the decision to use lethal force requires a combatant to suffer psychologically and risk sacrifice, which is impossible for machines. Other critiques are consequentialist, such as the claim that autonomous weapons will never be able to comply with international humanitarian law (IHL) because machines lack human understanding and the ability to feel compassion.
This article challenges anthropocentric critiques of AWS. Such critiques, whether deontological or consequentialist, are uniformly based on a very specific concept of “the human” who goes to war: namely, the Enlightenment subject who perceives the world accurately, understands rationally, is impervious to negative emotions, and reliably translates thought into action. Decades of research in cognitive psychology indicate, however, that the Enlightenment subject does not exist. On the contrary, human decision-making is profoundly distorted by cognitive and social biases, negative emotions, and physiological limitations — particularly when humans find themselves in dangerous and uncertain situations like combat. Given those flaws, and in light of rapid improvement in sensor and AI technology, it is only a matter of time until autonomous weapons are able to comply with IHL better than human soldiers ever have or ever will.
The article itself is divided into five sections. Section I critiques deontological objections to autonomous weapons. It shows that those objections either wrongly anthropomorphize AWS by assuming they “decide” on targets in a manner similar to humans or are predicated on a romanticized and anachronistic view of war in which most killing takes place face-to-face between combatants of equal status.
Section II addresses the common argument that IHL compliance requires human understanding — particularly the ability to discern the intentions of potential targets. The section demonstrates that such understanding is far less necessary to IHL than AWS critics assume and explains why, in those situations in which judgment is necessary, limits on human decision-making undermine the idea that human soldiers are more likely to comply with IHL than autonomous weapons.
Section III responds to the claim that autonomous weapons will not be able to comply with IHL as well as human soldiers because machines cannot feel compassion. It shows that compassion is irrelevant to IHL compliance, that compassion can lead to negative outcomes in combat as well as positive ones, and that any potential benefits of compassion are far outweighed by the costs of negative emotions such as stress and anger.
Section IV addresses the argument that the non-human nature of autonomous weapons makes it difficult, if not impossible, to hold humans responsible for war crimes that AWS commit. The section demonstrates not only that the problem of “accountability gaps” is significantly overstated, but also that there is no significant difference between human soldiers and autonomous weapons in terms of criminal responsibility.
Finally, Section V explores the implications of the idea that it is highly likely autonomous weapons will eventually be able to comply with IHL as well as — if not better than — human soldiers. It argues that consequentialist critics are not primarily concerned AWS will be worse soldiers than humans. Instead, their real worry is that they will be better ones, because the more humane war becomes, the more difficult it will be to eliminate war itself. This, the section argues, is actually the most powerful argument against autonomous weapons — but one that applies to most of the weapons developed over the past century.
Thursday, February 2, 2023
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
The Audiovisual Library of International Law is also available as a podcast on SoundCloud and can also be accessed through the relevant preinstalled applications on Apple or Google devices, or through the podcast application of your preference by searching “Audiovisual Library of International Law.”
- Articoli e Saggi
- Maria Chiara Vitucci, Le ciberoperazioni e il diritto internazionale, con alcune considerazioni sul conflitto ibrido russo-ucraino
- Michele Nino, The Freedom of Expression and Hate Speech in Cyberspace
- Martina Di Lollo, Alla ricerca di una crescita economica inclusiva: il ruolo delle IFI nell’attuazione delle politiche gender sensitive
- Osservatorio Europeo
- Claudia Morini, Alcune riflessioni sulla non neutralità dei bilanci: focus su Unione europea e gender budgeting
- Osservatorio Diritti Umani
- Vincenzo Lorubbio, Prevenzione della tortura in Europa: la complessa triangolazione istituzionale tra CPT, SPT e NPMs. Cui prodest?
- ‘There is great chaos under heaven’ but the situation does not seem ‘excellent’ at all. A reassessment of the Taiwan question, from statehood to the rules on the use of force
- Introduced by Marco Pertile
- Tarcisio Gazzini, Statehood in troubled waters: The international status of the Republic of China and the rules on the use of force
- Matthias Hartwig, How many Chinas exist in International Law?
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Feminist approaches to international law have been mischaracterised by the mainstream of the discipline as being a niche field that pertains only to women’s lived experiences and their participation in decision-making processes. Exemplifying how feminist approaches can be used to analyse all areas of international law, this book applies posthuman feminist theory to examine the regulation of new and emerging military technologies, international environmental law and the conceptualisation of the sovereign state and other modes of legal personality in international law.
Noting that most posthuman scholarship to date is primarily theoretical, this book also contributes to the field of posthumanism through its application of posthuman feminism to international law, working to bridge the theory and practice divide by using posthuman feminism to design and call for legal change. This interdisciplinary book draws on an array of fields, including philosophy, queer and feminist theories, postcolonial and critical race theories, computer science, critical disability studies, science and technology studies, marine biology, cultural and media studies, Indigenous onto-epistemologies, critical legal theory, political science and beyond to provide a holistic analysis of international law and its inclusions and exclusions.
Monday, January 30, 2023
Tams, Schill, & Hofmann: International Investment Law and General International Law: Radiating Effects?
This book questions whether investment law influences the wider field of general international law, and more specifically, whether approaches adopted by tribunals in investment arbitrations have radiated, or should radiate, into other fields of international law.
To answer this question, the book engages in a detailed analysis of pronouncements by investment tribunals on state responsibility, the law of treaties, and general principles of dispute resolution, and evaluates their impact beyond the narrow field of investment law. The perspectives provided in the book highlight how rules of general international law are concretised, specified, and at times moulded in investment arbitration practice. By doing so, the book enhances our understanding of the relationship between general international law and one its most dynamic sub-disciplines.
Combining conceptual and practical perspectives, and offering a detailed analysis of the pertinent case law, the book is a plea for a fuller engagement directed at both general international lawyers and international investment lawyers.
Sunday, January 29, 2023
Mbengue & Akinkugbe: The Criticism of Eurocentrism and International Law: Countering and Pluralizing the Research, Teaching, and Practice of Eurocentric International Law
This Chapter draws on Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) in examining the question: how does the research and teaching of international law in the Global South challenge Eurocentrism in international law. The Chapter focuses on the emergent activities within Global South that pluralize Eurocentric international law’s dominance in the research production, teaching, and practice arenas. The Chapter pushes against the unfair over-representation of European countries in the scholarly production and institutions of international law. To illustrate the often-underexplored regional diversity of international law outside Europe, the Chapter reflects on the contemporary roles of critical Global South scholars and scholarship in international law, and the sub-fields of international investment law and international human rights law to pluralize the epistemological foundations of the substantive field of international law.
- Michal Smetana & Michal Onderco, From Moscow With a Mushroom Cloud? Russian Public Attitudes to the Use of Nuclear Weapons in a Conflict With NATO Serhat Doğan, Emin Karagözoğlu, Kerim Keskin, & Hüseyin Çağrı Sağlam, Titans that Clash and a State that Buffers
- Allison Carnegie, Joshua D. Kertzer, & Keren Yarhi-Milo, Democratic Peace and Covert Military Force: An Experimental Test
- Hoon Lee, David Lektzian, & Glen Biglaiser, The Effects of Economic Sanctions on Foreign Asset Expropriation
- Ryan Yu-Lin Liou, Amanda Murdie, & Dursun Peksen, Pressures From Home and Abroad: Economic Sanctions and Target Government Response to Domestic Campaigns
- Anna Getmansky & Chagai M. Weiss, Interstate Conflict Can Reduce Support for Incumbents: Evidence from the Israeli Electorate and the Yom Kippur War
- Min Ye & Quan Li, Examining UN PKO contributions at multiple levels
- Moritz Schmoll & Wang Leung Ting, Explaining Physical Violence in Parliaments
- Daniel Krcmaric & Abel Escribà-Folch, I’ll Be Back? Exiled Leaders and Political Instability
- Sharan Grewal & Matthew D. Cebul, Can Religious Reinterpretations Bridge the Secular-Religious Divide? Experimental Evidence from Tunisia
- Travers B Child, Losing Hearts & Minds: Aid and Ideology
- Johannes Karreth, Jason Quinn, Madhav Joshi, & Jaroslav Tir, International Third Parties and the Implementation of Comprehensive Peace Agreements After Civil War
- Data Set Feature
- Charles Miller & K. Shuvo Bakar, Conflict Events Worldwide Since 1468BC: Introducing the Historical Conflict Event Dataset
Saturday, January 28, 2023
This open access book brings conceptual clarity to the study and practice of self-determination, showing that it is, without doubt, one of the most important concepts of the international legal order. It argues that the accepted categorisation of internal and external self-determination is not helpful, and suggests a new typology. This new framework has four categories: the polity-based, secessionary, colonial, and remedial forms. Each will be distinguished by the grounds, or the legitimacy-claim, on which it is based. This not only ensures consistency, it moves the question out of the purely conceptual realm and addresses the practical concerns of those invoking self-determination. By presenting international lawyers with a typology that is both theoretically consistent and more practically useful, the author makes a significant contribution to our understanding of this keystone of international law.
This book explores how State capitalism affects and reshapes international investment law. It sheds new light on the various ways States actively influence business and commercial activity globally by using sovereign investors such as state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds or pension funds. With a diverse group of contributors from a broad range of countries, the book offers a fresh and timely look into the fundamentals of State capitalism, focusing in particular on its actors and processes, the contextual elements that surround it, and the new political economy that comes with it.
As the World Heritage Convention enters its 50th year, questions are being raised about its failures and successes. This topical book draws together perspectives across law and heritage research to examine the Convention and its implementation through the novel lens of compliance.
The book challenges the widely held view that managing the ‘world’s heritage’ is a non-regulatory, incentive-based task with limited sanctioning options. Combining theoretical perspectives with deep technical analysis and historical investigation, the book tackles the compliance question through an examination of 12 diverse cases.
Analysing past World Heritage properties like the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman) and Dresden Elbe Valley (Germany), as well as at-risk properties, like the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Group of Monuments at Hampi (India) and Everglades National Park (United States), chapters trace the evolution and application of key non-compliance mechanisms like Reactive Monitoring, the In Danger List, and the Deletion procedure. In so doing, this book provides a comprehensive understanding of the Convention's compliance architecture and the tools available to respond to instances of non-compliance.
Akinkugbe & Majekolagbe: International Investment Law and Climate Justice: The Search for a Just Green Investment Order
Efforts are underway to craft responses to the climate crisis within the international investment order. This Article highlights international investment law (“IIL”) and international climate law (“ICL”) as two basic governance contexts within which investment- related responses to climate change are being designed. There is, however, a multilevel—normative and institutional—dissonance between both regimes that makes for an asymmetric integration of the regimes at best, or worse still, the escalation of the injustices which have characterized both. While similar in their recognition of international investment as an important tool for responding to climate change, assumptions and approaches under both regimes are different. Both regimes, however, are responsible for the entrenchment of climate injustice. This Article re-envisions climate justice through a Third World Approaches to International Law (“TWAIL”) lens and provides recommendations on the actualization of a just green investment order. Drawing on TWAIL, we argue that treaty proposals that simply emphasize making IIL compatible with international climate frameworks for green investments, despite their relevance for the transition to a green economy, overlook structural normative dynamics which have perpetuated historical injustice, skewed power relations, and contributed to diverse tragedies of the commons. To avoid cascading into a new regime of inequities, we argue that IIL reform and investment-related measures under the ICL regime must center on climate justice and a nuanced interpretation of historical responsibility.
Ferrari, Rosenfeld, & Kotuby: Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards: A Concise Guide to the New York Convention's Uniform Regime
This incisive book is an indispensable guide to the New York Convention's uniform regime on recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. Framing the Convention as a uniform law instrument, the book analyses case law from major arbitration jurisdictions to explain its scope of application, the duty to recognize arbitral agreements and awards as well as their limitations, and the procedure and formal requirements for enforcing arbitral awards.
Combining insight from arbitration practice with perspectives from private international law, the book underlines the importance of the Convention’s foundation in a treaty of international law, arguing that this entails a requirement to interpret the key concepts it sets forth based on international law rules of interpretation. However, it also demonstrates where municipal laws are relevant and discusses the private international law principles through which these instances can be identified.
- Noemí Pérez Vásquez, Last On the List: The Protection of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Timor-Leste’s Transitional Justice Process
- Charlotte Ludt, Margunn Bjørnholt & Birgitta Niklasson, Speaking the Unspeakable: Disclosures of Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Asylum Credibility Assessments
- Gabriela Mezzanotti & Alyssa Marie Kvalvaag, Indigenous Peoples on the Move: Intersectional Invisibility and the Quest for Pluriversal Human Rights for Indigenous Migrants from Venezuela in Brazil
- Padraig McAuliffe, The Ambivalent Status of Socio-Economic Rights in Human Rights-Based Approaches to Development
- Henning Tamm & Allard Duursma, Combat, commitment, and the termination of Africa’s mutual interventions
- Iosif Kovras, Technologies of justice: forensics and the evolution of transitional justice
- Chiara Ruffa & Sebastiaan Rietjens, Meaning making in peacekeeping missions: mandate interpretation and multinational collaboration in the UN mission in Mali
- Lennart Maschmeyer, Subversion, cyber operations, and reverse structural power in world politics
- Miles M. Evers, Discovering the prize: information, lobbying, and the origins of US–Saudi security relations
- Neil C. Renic, Superweapons and the myth of technological peace
- Amir Lupovici, Ontological security, cyber technology, and states’ responses
- Tuncer Beyribey, Terrorism as a conceptual site for power struggles: problematization of terrorism in Turkey in the 1970s
- Aidan Hehir, ‘An expensive commodity’? The impact of hope on US foreign policy during the ‘unipolar moment’
- Stéphanie Martel & Aarie Glas, The contested meaning-making of diplomatic norms: competence in practice in Southeast Asian multilateralism
Friday, January 27, 2023
- Reuven Avi-Yonah, Young Ran Kim, & Karen Sam, A New Framework for Digital Taxation
- Jose-Miguel Bello y Villarino, International Anticorruption Law, Revisited
- Janie A. Chuang, The International Organization for Migration and New Global Migration Governance
- Angela Huyue Zhang, Agility Over Stability: China's Great Reversal in Regulating the Platform Economy
Hsu: Dispute Settlement for ASEAN Businesses under the Belt and Road Initiative: New Possibilities and Directions
This forward-looking book examines dispute resolution issues in the context of Belt and Road Initiative dealings between parties in ASEAN member States, China and other trade partners. It discusses a range of commercial dispute issues and economic agreements including free trade agreements and investment agreements, both bilateral and regional.
Locknie Hsu presents research on dispute settlement options and emerging issues for ASEAN businesses relating to projects and transactions undertaken in relation to the Belt and Road Initiative. She translates these options and issues into opportunities in economic treaty negotiations, utilization of national and regional dispute settlement institutions and better handling of emerging issues (such as environment-related claims and technology applications in dispute resolution) and in legal capacity-building in ASEAN. The book explores findings from academic research, empirical information, selected Case Studies (on environmental and other claims in ASEAN and beyond) and salient legal and technological developments, to provide insights and lessons that make this original book a rich and useful legal and research resource.
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Combining both theoretical and practical insights, the Research Handbook on Secession addresses a wide range of legal issues surrounding secessions. It considers both well-known examples such as Kosovo and Bangladesh alongside less frequently discussed cases including Somaliland and Palestine, offering state-of-the-art analysis of international law on statehood, secession, self-determination and related topics. Featuring contributions from a range of international scholars and experts, the Research Handbook discusses what a state is, distinguishes between declarations of independence and secessions, and examines the differences between secessions and the dissolution of states. Chapters provide both international law and comparative constitutional perspectives on issues of secession, inviting the reader to think afresh about the role of international law in territory and statehood. The Research Handbook also argues for the possibility that combining insights from international and constitutional law in particular could move the debate forward.
Lecture: Koskeneimi on "To the Uttermost Parts of the Earth Legal Imagination and International Power 1300–1870"
Bourgeois & Labuda: When May UN Peacekeepers Use Lethal Force to Protect Civilians? Reconciling Threats to Civilians, Imminence, and the Right to Life
UN Security Council now regularly deploys peacekeeping missions with robust mandates to protect civilians and encourages their proactive implementation, including by using force. While this turn to robust civilian protection is usually celebrated, the legal parameters of using force are rarely scrutinised, with scholarship focused on self-defence and UN policy to justify mandate implementation. By analysing the relationship between peacekeeping mandates and international law in light of the shift from defensive to proactive peacekeeping, this article argues that the legality of using force for civilian protection purposes must be reconciled not only with Security Council resolutions but also with human rights law, which imposes strict temporal conditions for lawful deprivations of the right to life outside the conduct of hostilities. Drawing on the UN’s current practice of protecting civilians in hostile environments, this article attempts to reconcile proactive civilian-oriented peacekeeping with the concept of imminence as understood in human rights law.
- Robert Howse & Joanna Langille, Continuity and Change in the World Trade Organization: Pluralism Past, Present, and Future
- Andrej Lang, Alternatives to Adjudication in International Law: A Case Study of the Ombudsperson to the ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions Regime of the UN Security Council
- Current Developments
- Sean D. Murphy, Peremptory Norms of General International Law (Jus Cogens) (Revisited) and Other Topics: The Seventy-Third Session of the International Law Commission
- International Decisions
- Jaemin Lee, Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)
- Jacquelene W. Mwangi, Request for Advisory Opinion by the Pan African Lawyers Union (Palu) on the Compatibility of Vagrancy Laws with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Other Human Rights Instruments Applicable in Africa, No. 001/2018
- Contemporary Practice of the United States Relating to International Law
- The United States Recognizes the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment
- Signatories of the U.S.-Led Artemis Accords Meet in Person for the First Time
- The United States Establishes Fund for the Afghan People from Frozen Afghan Central Bank Assets
- The United States Announces Export Controls to Restrict China's Ability to Purchase and Manufacture High-End Chips
- Recent Books on International Law
- Fleur Johns, Disastrous Law: International Law and the Shock-absorption of Disaster, reviewing International Law in Disaster Scenarios: Applicable Rules and Principles, by Flavia Zorzi Giustiniani; Law and Disaster: Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Meltdown in Japan, by Shigenori Matsui; and All is Well: Catastrophe and the Making of the Normal State, by Saptarishi Bandopadhyay
- Karen J. Alter, reviewing Veiled Power: International Law and the Private Corporation 1886–1981, by Doreen Lustig
- David Kaye, reviewing Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War, by Samuel Moyn
- Ksenia Polonskaya, reviewing Identity and Diversity on the International Bench: Who Is the Judge?, by Freya Baetens
- David P. Stewart, reviewing Lex Pacificatoria, Jus Post Bellum, or Just “Good Practice”? - International Law and Peace Settlements, edited by Marc Weller, Mark Retter and Andrea Varga; and Lawyering Peace, by Paul Williams
Abel: International Investor Obligations: Towards Individual International Responsibility for the Public Interest in International Investment Law
International investment law has been criticised for years: Do investors enjoy international rights without corresponding responsibility? This book challenges this view. On the contrary, treaty and arbitration practice is already subject to dynamics introducing international investor obligations, systematised by this book as direct and indirect obligations. Inter alia, these relate to the protection of human rights and the environment. This development may potentially reorient the field towards the principle of sustainable development and may even turn it into an international instrument to regulate investors’ behaviour. The book situates these findings in the broader context of general international law.
Das internationale Investitionsschutzrecht steht seit Jahren in der Kritik: Genießen Investoren internationale Rechte ohne korrespondierende Verantwortlichkeit? Dieses Buch stellt diese Sicht infrage. Vielmehr lassen sich der Vertrags- und Schiedspraxis bereits heute Investorenpflichten entnehmen, die das Buch normtheoretisch als direkte und indirekte Pflichten erschließt. Diese verpflichten Investoren etwa auf Menschenrechte und Umweltschutz. Sie sind potentiell geeignet, das Rechtsgebiet verstärkt auf das Ziel nachhaltiger Entwicklung auszurichten und Investorenverhalten international zu regulieren. Das Buch stellt diese Entwicklung in den allgemeineren Kontext der seit 1945 stattfindenden Individualisierung des Völkerrechts.