About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

13 Braz. J. Int'l L. 460 (2016)
Dignity, Ubuntu, Humanity and Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS) Debate: An African Perspective

handle is hein.journals/brazintl13 and id is 955 raw text is: 

Dignity, ubuntu, humanity and autonomous
weapon systems (AWS) debate: an African

                                              Thompson Chengeta


   In this paper, I discuss the relevance of the African notion of 'ubuntu' or
humanity to the on-going AWS debate. After tracing the notion of ubuntu
back to the pre-colonial time in Zimbabwe and how it developed into a poli-
tical and humanist philosophy, I discuss its relevance in international law by
reference to the impact of its equivalent notion of humanity to international
human rights, humanitarian and criminal law. I also note that scholars who
argue for the exclusion of the notion of humanity from the AWS debate
base the argument either on the idea that the notion is inadequately defined
or that humanity as a notion is so vague to the extent that relying on it will
have disastrous results. In response to this argument, I seek to define the
term humanity and linking it to human dignity in a bid to show that the term
is capable of meaning. After defining what ubuntu or humanity means as
shaped by human dignity, I come to the conclusion that giving robots the
power to decide who lives or dies is inconsistent with ubuntu and an affront
to human dignity. I also emphasise that African states should more fully
participate in the on-going debate on AWS and share their experience with
the notion of ubuntu with the rest of the world.

Keywords: Autonomous Weapon Systems. Killer robots. Dignity. Ubuntu.
Humanity. Martens Clause.


   A person is a person through other people... Humanity is not embedded
in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bes-
towed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other.
We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we
belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you
are, and since you are, definitely I am. The 'I am' is not a rigid subject, but a
dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation
and distance.

1  ONYEBUCHI, M. Eze. Communio of Life: ecological theology m afican perspective,

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most