The Use of Autonomous Weapons Systems in Domestic Law Enforcement Operations: Testing the Resilience of International Human Rights Law

The compatibility of AWS with International Human Rights Law (IHRL) is nowadays largely unexplored. Plausibly, the reason can be find in an apparent lack of practice related to the use of AWS outside the context of an armed conflict. Moreover, contrary to International Human Rights Law, IHRL does not contain specific limitations on the use of weapons and does not foresee any review mechanisms such as that established by Article 36 of the CCW. However, this justification is no longer tenable. Despite the absence of specific treaty limitations, States’ freedom to choose means and methods for law enforcement activities is affected by the standards flowing human rights treaties and elaborated upon by the jurisprudence of international and regional human rights bodies. Against this background, the proposed paper scrutinizes the way in which the future introduction of AWS in the context of law enforcement will affect the content and the extent of States’ human rights obligations.