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Regulating the use of unmanned combat vehicles: Are general principles of International Humanitarian Law sufficient?


Hagger, M and McCormack, T, Regulating the use of unmanned combat vehicles: Are general principles of International Humanitarian Law sufficient?, Journal of Law and Information Science, 21, (2) pp. EAP2-EAP26. ISSN 0729-1485 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 University of Tasmania

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DOI: doi:10.5778/JLIS.2011.21.McCormack.1


Some weapons are prohibited by a specific multilateral treaty regime and others by customary law. Neither source of prohibition applies to unmanned combat vehicles (UCVs). In the absence of a specific legal prohibition, UCVs can lawfully be deployed in armed conflict provided their use is consistent with so-called general principles of international humanitarian law (IHL). These general principles limit or restrict the circumstances in which UCVs can lawfully be deployed. In combat operations militaries utilising UCV technology are closely scrutinised and generally do try to ensure compliance with IHL. The real concerns lie with dubious usage of UCVs in covert operations where the IHL framework seems to provide a conveniently permissive legal regime, there is an apparent absence of any effective review of compliance with IHL and no accountability for alleged violations of the law. In some circumstances it is highly questionable whether IHL is the applicable legal framework.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:unmanned combat vehicles, UCVs, legal framework, International Humanitarian Law, International Court of Justice, combat operations
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Public law
Research Field:Public law not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Justice and the law not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Hagger, M (Miss Meredith Hagger)
UTAS Author:McCormack, T (Professor Tim McCormack)
ID Code:76275
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2012-03-02
Last Modified:2015-01-02

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