451 Cesáreo Gutiérrez Espada Autonomous weapons systems, drones and international law When these facts are taken into account, it does not appear to be realistic to expect states to forego these systems, or for them to simply commit themselves to stopping all research into how they may be developed and refined. It seems that the specific proposal made in this vein this year by the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, Christof Heyns, recommending that states establish national moratoria13, will face tremendous difficulties before it is successful14. Nevertheless, civil society is already taking action to control such systems: in 2009, ICRAC (International Committee for Robot Arms Control)15 was created in order to reflect on the danger posed by these weapons. In addition, a British NGO, Article 3616, works to prevent their development and deployment. Likewise, the United Nations is becoming increasingly more active on the issue: in January 2013, Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on Counter- Terrorism and Human Rights, began to look into drone strikes against civilians in various countries and, in August 2013, as part of his visit to Pakistan, the Secretary- General of the organisation called for control of their use to be guided by international law. As has already been noted, some states allocate a great deal of resources to developing autonomous weapons systems for aerial, terrestrial and maritime use17. Yet it is currently impossible to know when or within what timeframe we will see the emergence of autonomous robots that are ready for use. Two conclusions are nevertheless admissible: • Firstly, autonomous robots with full lethal force have not yet been deployed. • Secondly, autonomous robots are nonetheless already used with varying degrees of autonomy and lethal force. These include, inter alia, the Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW) system, the Phalanx system, the C-RAM or the Northrop Grumman X-47 B from the United States, Israel’s Harpy, the United Kingdom’s Taranis or the Samsung Techwin robots in the demilitarised zone that separates the two 13 Vid. infra, see section 3 of this text. 14 Daniela Quelhas, for instance, states that: “until now, the Special Rapporteur’s proposals are not strictly supported apart from by a coalition of non-governmental organisations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Handicap International” (“La prolifération de robots-tueurs… cit., p. 3). 15 See their website: http://www.icrac.net 16 http://www.article36.org. It takes its name from Article 36 of Additional Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Conventions that requires states to verify the legality, in accordance with International Humanitarian Law, of the new weapons that these states study, develop or acquire. 17 UNITED STATES AIR FORCE: United States Air Force. Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047 cit., pp. 41 ff.
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