• Many urgent arms-related challenges should be addressed to protect civilians affected by conflict and its deadly legacy.  Antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions have been prohibited outright, but the ban treaties need to be universalized and complied with fully.  Militaries use a wide-range of explosive weapons—artillery, rockets, mortars, air-delivered bombs and more—in populated areas, frequently causing indiscriminate harm to civilians. Incendiary weapons cause painful and cruel injuries, yet they continue to be used. The development of fully autonomous weapons—“killer robots”—that could select and engage targets without human intervention need to be stopped to prevent a future of warfare and policing outside of human control and responsibility. Human Rights Watch investigates these and other problematic weapons systems and works to develop and monitor international standards to protect civilians from armed violence.

  • 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.

Reports

Arms