49 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Pol. 833 (2016-2017)
Defining the Emerging Notion of Meaningful Human Control in Weapon Systems

handle is hein.journals/nyuilp49 and id is 847 raw text is: 







        DEFINING THE EMERGING NOTION OF
            MEANINGFUL HUMAN CONTROL
                      IN  WEAPON SYSTEMS


                      THOMPSON CHENGETA*


         The emerging notion of Meaningful Human  Control (MHC)  was
    suggested by the UK-based NGO  Article 36 as a possible solution to the
    challenges that are posed by Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS). Various
    states, NGOs, and scholars have fwelcomed the MHC proposition. Although
    other terms such as appropriate levels of human judgment have been sug-
    gested, MHC  has gained more traction. The challenge remains, however,
    that both the terms MHC and appropriate levels of human judgment are
    not defined in international law and as ofpresent, there is no literature that
    extensively or normatively defines either of the terms. From a normative
    standpoint, the choice between MHC and  appropriate levels of human
    judgment is inconsequential since the definition that one ascribes to either
    of the terms will still be applicable to the other. To that end, this Article
    discusses questions that are helpful in defining MHC-and by extension
    appropriate levels of human judgement-and it concludes by proposing a
    working definition.
         The control exercised by humans over weapons is changing in both
     nature and degree. Early weapons were mere tools in the hands of fighters
     who exercised direct control. With the advancement of technology, however,
     there has been considerable automation of the control that was previously
     exercised by humans. Moreover, the invention of drones introduced remote
     control to weapons systems, making it possible for humans to project force
     while thousands of miles away from the target. On the horizon are AWS-
     robotic weapons that, once activated, do not need any further human inter-
     vention. In the case of AWS, humans seem to be surrendering or delegating
     control of weapons to computers. While this may seem convenient, efficient,
     and safe for those deploying them, AWS raise far-reaching concerns. For that
     reason, many scholars and organisations are insisting that there is a need to
     maintain MHC  over weapons-preferably, as a legal requirement. In order
     to define MHC, I propose that the international community must ask the
     following questions:
         (1) What is the purpose of MHC? What  is it that the international
         community  is trying to resolve?


    *  Postdoctoral Fellow, South  African Research  Chair in international
law, University of Johannesburg; Non-Resident  Fellow, Institute for Interna-
tional and Comparative  Law  in Africa, University of Pretoria, Expert mem-
ber, International Committee  for Robots Arms   Control (ICRAC);  Panellist,
International Panel on the Regulation of Autonomous   Weapons,   LLD., Uni-
versity of Pretoria, LL.M., Harvard, LL.M., University of Pretoria, LL.B., Mid-
lands State University.

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Imaged with Permission of N.Y.U. Journal of International Law and Politics

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