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June 16, 2014

The Human Rights Implications of Killer Robots

Posted by Cara Solomon

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council took a fresh look at fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots.” Previous international debate had focused on the weapons’ ability to comply with laws of war; the Council, by contrast, examined the issue through the lens of international human rights law, which applies in times of peace as well as armed conflict. In this June 9 post originally published by JURIST, Senior Clinical Instructor Bonnie Docherty argued that killer robots threaten the most fundamental human rights.

Fully autonomous weapons, which could select and fire on targets without meaningful human intervention, have the potential to revolutionize the nature of warfare, bringing greater speed and reach to military operations. In the process, though, this emerging technology could endanger both civilians and soldiers.

Nations have been considering the multiple challenges these weapons would pose to the laws of war, also called international humanitarian law. But little attention has been given to the implications for human rights law. If these weapons were developed and used for policing, for example, they would threaten the most basic of these rights, including the right to life, the right to a remedy and the principle of human dignity.

Fully autonomous weapons, also known as autonomous weapons systems or “killer robots,” do not yet exist, but research and technology in a number of countries are moving rapidly in that direction. Because these machines would have the power to determine when to kill, they raise a host of legal, ethical and scientific concerns. Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic are advocating for a pre-emptive prohibition on fully autonomous weapons. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a global coalition of 52 nongovernmental organizations coordinated by Human Rights Watch, is making the same call.

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June 4, 2014

Taking on “Killer Robots”

Posted by Bonnie Docherty

Last month, Senior Clinical Instructor Bonnie Docherty traveled with students to Geneva for the first multilateral meeting of the Convention on Conventional Weapons devoted to fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots.” Below is her re-cap of the week’s events, published originally on May 23, 2014 in the online forum Just Security.

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June 3, 2014

Thank You, Class of 2014 (Plus Pictures)!

Posted by HRP staff and faculty

Dear Graduates,

First of all: CONGRATULATIONS! YOU MADE IT!

Secondly, if we missed each other during commencement, here is what we wanted to say: Thank you. Thank you for the many things you brought to us, in addition to your time and talent. You showed us kindness and humility and curiosity and commitment- qualities that made us proud to work alongside you. We hope you will bring those things with you wherever you go.

Finally, we wanted to send our sincere appreciation to the students who made public service a focus of their time here. A grand total of 16 Clinic graduates performed more than 1,000 hours of community service: Lara Berlin, Tess Borden, Madison Condon, Catherine Cooper, Nathaniel Counts, Alexandra Gliga, Elizabeth Hague, Alysa Harder, Lindsay Henson, Maryum Jordan, Andrew Mamo, Lynnette Miner, Jonathan Nomamiukur, Harin Song, Colette Van Der Ven, and Sarah Wheaton.

Unbelievably, one of our graduates, Jeanne Segil, logged more than 2,000 hours of community service. And three were given the Dean’s Award for Community Leadership: Maryum Jordan, Jeanne Segil, and Sarah Wheaton.

Terrific work, Class of 2014. We wish you all the good luck that life has to give.

And now, for the party pictures:

Three individuals smile for a photo while someone sneaks up behind them.
A man in a Harvard graduation robe smiles with a man in a suit.
Two women speak to each other smiling.
Two faculty smile with a student in graduation robes.
A man in a graduation robes smiles with a professor holding a baby.
Three individuals pose and smile in the HRP suite.
A family smiles together at HLS graduation.
A professor talks with a student's family members at an HLS party.
A student's family celebrates HLS graduation at the HRP graduation party.
Three individuals smile and pose at the HRP graduation party.
Three individuals smile and pose at the HRP graduation party.
One student smiles while a faculty member talks.

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