Banning new lethal autonomous weapons: Possibilities and pitfalls

Date & time
1–2pm Wednesday 31 March 2021

Phillipa Weeks Staff Library, ANU College of Law, Building 7, Room 7.4.1.

Dr Stephanie Koorey
ANU Law Marketing
ANU College of Law Research Seminar

Part of the ANU College of Law Research Seminar Series 2021 series

Banning new Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Possibilities and Pitfalls

This seminar will focus on three different autonomous weapons’ types, explore how two of them came to be subjected to outright bans under international law, and evaluate whether a pre-emptive ban on the third is desirable, and if so, whether such a ban is possible. Over the late 1990s into the 2000s, innovative international civil society coalitions joined forces with middle powers to argue successfully that key principles of International Humanitarian Law – proportionality and distinction – were violated by both Anti-Personnel Landmines and Cluster Munitions, and as such pioneered means to ban them. Civil society groups are again calling for a ban on a far more technologically-sophisticated weapons type known as Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). While fully autonomous weapons are not yet built, and there is fierce legal, ethical and technological debate over what ‘autonomy’ means, there is also some question as to whether creating pre-emptive law is viable even if it is morally defensible, especially given the increasingly tense strategic environment.


  • Dr Stephanie Koorey »

    Stephanie Koorey was awarded her PhD from the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at ANU in 2009 for a thesis on small arms control and violent non-state actors. She has researched conventional arms control in various career roles over several decades, and has a recently published a co-authored chapter on civil society campaigns and humanitarian arms control in the edited volume Human Rights and War (ed, Damien Rogers, Springer, 2021).

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