Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS): Legal and Operational Considerations, Constraints, and Concerns

In this October 2021 CENSA Report, CENSA Board of Advisor, Guermantes Lailari, explores the legal and operational considerations, constraints, and concerns of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS). Mr. Lailari does not advocate the banning of these weapon systems as have some treaty members of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, some members of European Parliament, some human rights organizations, several countries, scientists, and academics. Rather, he seeks to take a proactive approach and attempts to create an actionable framework for legal and operational considerations. The analysis suggests possible modes of operation to help all those involved in the approval process and use of LAWS. Furthermore, current weapons review processes are examined, and some suggestions are provided on how to improve them as an artificial intelligence / machine learning weapon system evolves. His paper provides recommendations for operational modes to assist both the warfighter and the civilian authorities in managing LAWS under international law, the law of armed conflict and national laws. Finally, a list of six archetypes is presented summarizing a way to mitigate the considerations, constraints and concerns of LAWS. 

About the Author:

Guermantes Lailari is a retired USAF Foreign Area Officer specializing in the Middle East and Europe as well as counterterrorism, irregular warfare, and missile defense. He has studied, worked, and served in the Middle East and North Africa for over 14 years and similarly in Europe for six years. He has also worked and traveled in Asia.  He was a US Air Force Attach√© in the Middle East, served in Iraq and holds advanced degrees in International Relations and Strategic Intelligence.  After retiring from the USAF, he worked as a contractor in variety of positions including working for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD-SOLIC) Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) for four years and managed a US forward based radar in the Middle East for three years.  He is currently conducting research on authoritarian and totalitarian regimes that threaten the US, including examining strategies and policies to understand and respond to China and Iran.  This is his third article he has written on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems.

Executive Summary:


The Full Report: