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6 Cambridge J. Int'l & Comp. L. 62 (2017)
War, Weapons and Watchdogs: An Assessment of the Legality of New Weapons under International Human Rights Law

handle is hein.journals/cajoincla6 and id is 62 raw text is: 




Cambridge International Law Journal, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 62-74


War, weapons and watchdogs: an

assessment of the legality of new weapons

under international human rights law



Helin M  Laufer
King's College London, UK

This paper will critically analyse the International Committee of the Red Cross' new weap-
ons review and emphasise the importance ofconsidering human rights in the assessment ofthe
legality of weapons. Further, the paper will illustrate this practically by analysing the legality
of drones and killer robots from the perspective of the right to life and the prohibition against
torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Keywords:  international humanitarian law, human rights, International Committee of the
Red Cross, weapons, drones, killer robots


1 INTRODUCTION

   'The main foundations of every state ... are good laws and good arms - you cannot have
   good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably
   follow.'
                                                      Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

The law of weapons  is among the oldest of the laws of armed conflict, yet one of the
least effective ones. As weaponry advanced  rapidly in the 20th century, the law
struggled to keep up with these developments. The emergence of modem lethal weapons
requires States to achieve the right balance between their military interests and legal obli-
gations more than ever before.'
   The starting point of this paper is the International Committee of the Red Cross'
(ICRC)  guide to the legal review of new weapons (New Weapons   Review).2 While
the ICRC  has provided useful legal guidelines for States in their acquisition and use
of new weapons,  it has failed to consider the legality of such weapons under interna-
tional human rights law (IHRL). The first part of the paper will criticise the ICRC's
approach by demonstrating that IHRL  is part of the law applicable in armed conflict
and should, therefore, have been included in the ICRC's guide.
   The second part of the paper will take the ICRC's effort to issue guidelines further
and provide a model analysis of the legality of new weapons under IHRL. The focus



1.   C Greenwood, 'The Law of Weaponry at the Start of the New Millennium' (1998) 71
International Law Studies 185.
2.   International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 'A Guide to the Legal Review of New
Weapons, Means  and Methods of Warfare: Measures to Implement Article 36 of Additional
Protocol I of 1977' (January 2006) <www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/publication/
p0902.htm> accessed 15 March 2017 (New Weapons Review).

0 2017 The Author                         Journal compilation 0 2017 Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd
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