• Fully autonomous weapons, also known as "killer robots," would be able to select and engage targets without human intervention. Precursors to these weapons, such as armed drones, are being developed and deployed by nations including China, Israel, South Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is questionable that fully autonomous weapons would be capable of meeting international humanitarian law standards, including the rules of distinction, proportionality, and military necessity, while they would threaten the fundamental right to life and principle of human dignity. Human Rights Watch calls for a preemptive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons.

    Human Rights Watch is a founding member and serves as global coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

  • The United Kingdom’s Taranis combat aircraft, whose prototype was unveiled in 2010, is designed to strike distant targets, “even in another continent.” While the Ministry of Defence has stated that humans will remain in the loop, the Taranis exemplifies the move toward increased autonomy.

    Governments should pre-emptively ban fully autonomous weapons because of the danger they pose to civilians in armed conflict.



  • Sep 13, 2014
    The Iraqi government should promptly investigate an airstrike that hit a school housing displaced people near Tikrit on September 1, 2014. The attack killed at least 31 civilians, including 24 children, and wounded 41 others. According to three survivors, no fighters from the armed group Islamic State or other military objects were in or around the school at the time.
  • Sep 11, 2014
    Three Israeli attacks that damaged Gaza schools housing displaced people caused numerous civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war.
  • Sep 5, 2014
    Four years have now passed since the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force in August 2010 and we are encouraged by the impressive overall compliance witnessed to date.
  • Sep 3, 2014
    Countries around the world should enact strong laws to implement the treaty banning cluster munitions, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today at an international meeting of nations party to the treaty.
  • Sep 2, 2014
    Let us begin by congratulating Belize and the Republic of Congo for becoming the two most recent States Parties. What a great way to start our Meeting! And let us say how pleased we are to be here in San Jose, especially because of the vital leadership role that Costa Rica has played since the beginning of the Oslo Process and throughout the life of the Convention.
  • Sep 1, 2014
    Unlawful government and insurgent attacks in and around Luhansk are contributing to rising civilian casualties. According to a morgue doctor in Luhansk, explosive weapons have killed more than 300 civilians in the city since May.
  • Sep 1, 2014
    Credible evidence has emerged that Islamic State forces used ground-fired cluster munitions in at least one location in northern Syria in recent weeks, Human Rights Watch said today. The use of cluster munitions by non-state actors such as the Islamic State shows the urgent need for Syria and all nations that have not yet done so to join the ban on cluster munitions and destroy their stockpiles.
  • Aug 24, 2014
    Oman joined the international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines on August 20, 2014, Human Rights Watch said today. It is the 8th Arab country and 162nd country worldwide to join. The move should encourage the remaining 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa to join the Mine Ban Treaty and respect its provisions.
  • Aug 21, 2014
    This month marks 100 years since the beginning of World War One. For many working to advance humanitarian disarmament, it is a time to reflect on the changing nature of warfare over the past century and consider whether the dire situation faced by civilian victims of warfare is likely to get any better in the future. How will civilians be affected by the introduction of increasingly autonomous military technologies that place human soldiers ever further away from the field of operation and perhaps one day remove them altogether?
  • Aug 21, 2014
    Justice remains elusive for the victims of the chemical weapons attacks on Ghouta, near Damascus, which killed hundreds of people, Human Rights Watch said today, on the anniversary of the August 21, 2013 attacks.