When Scientists Become Activists: The International Committee for Robot Arms Control and the Politics of Killer Robots

  • Matthew Breay BoltonEmail author
  • Cayman C. Mitchell


The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC)—a group of intellectuals advocating for multilateral regulation of military robotics—have moved quickly from academic obscurity to the center of a global advocacy campaign aiming to prohibit autonomous weapons systems (AWS or “killer robots”). ICRAC’s success offers an opportunity to explore the interaction between academia and the global policymaking arena. Drawing on post-structural and constructivist perspectives, we argue that—contrary to binary oppositions between Science and Politics—the academic and political processes on AWS have co-constituted each other. ICRAC’s scholar-activists have persuaded the diplomatic apparatus to address their concerns. But engaging with the policy arena has contributed to ICRAC’s “gentrification,” transitioning from a process-oriented scholarly collective to a more conventional civil society organization.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political SciencePace UniversityNew York CityUSA
  2. 2.Jenner & Block LLPNew YorkUSA

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