Africa’s role in regulating autonomous weapons systems


Autonomous weapons systems, sometimes referred to as killer robots, select and engage targets without human intervention. This poses risks for civilians, raises ethical concerns and challenges the application of international humanitarian law.

The United Nations is currently discussing the development of autonomous weapons systems and whether new rules are needed. There is general agreement that human control is central to their use, but what other rules are needed and where should the line be drawn between ethics and effectiveness? Should a new treaty prohibit the development and use of these weapons? This seminar explores these questions, paying particular attention to African perspectives on the types of responses needed.

This seminar is jointly hosted by the ISS and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Chair: Prof Christof Heyns, Director, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, University of Pretoria


Gugu Dube, Researcher, Complex Threats in Africa, ISS Pretoria

Maya Brehm, Legal Advisor, International Committee of the Red Cross

Mary Wareham, Arms Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch and Coordinator, Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

Oluwole Akinsanya, Nigeria Air Commodore (rtd)

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