New challenges emerge as the nature of warfare is changing with the development of new technologies such as autonomous weapon systems, cyber-attacks — which can be carried out from any distance and do not leave any trace of the perpetrator — armed drones, robots and the like. These new technologies are changing the modern battlespace and bring with them a host of potential humanitarian consequences. While International Humanitarian Law (IHL) applies to these technologies, their development has triggered the need to examine whether these laws, as they currently stand, are appropriate and adequate in view of the specific characteristics and foreseeable humanitarian impact of these new technologies, or whether they need to be clarified or developed.
The ICRC, which is calling on the States to assess whether the new technologies they develop comply with IHL, set in motion in March a Conference Cycle entitled ‘New Technologies and the Modern Battlespace: Humanitarian Perspectives’. Till June 2014, several public events will be organized at the Humanitarium in Geneva and elsewhere with a view to addressing the novel humanitarian, legal and ethical challenges posed by new technologies.
As part of the First Research and Debate Cycle of the programme, a panel discussion on the ‘Challenges of New Technologies in Warfare’ was held last month in Geneva. It marked the inauguration of the cycle of conferences. The panel, comprising multi-disciplinary experts such as lawyers, academics, people from the military and from civil society, discussed the implications of new technologies, their humanitarian consequences and how to address the future challenges that they could pose in the application of IHL.
For more information on the Conference Cycle, click here.
To watch the First Research and Debate Cycle panel discussion, click here.
The forthcoming conferences are scheduled as follows: April 10: Autonomous Weaponry and Armed Conflict (ASIL/ILA Joint Conference in Washington, DC) May 22: Cyber Warfare (Geneva) May 27: Human Enhancement: New Technologies and the Future Battlefield (Australia) June 24: Webinar on Technological Innovation and Principled Humanitarian Action (Geneva) Get updates and follow the ICRC Conference Cycle’s podcasts, interviews and reference documents here.
ICRC New Delhi