Meaningful Human Control – and the Politics of International Law

  • Thilo MarauhnEmail author


In the Geneva discussions on lethal autonomous weapons systems the concept of “meaningful human control” plays an important role. While the concept as such has served to focus on particular politico-ethical questions and to place the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems prominently on the agenda of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), its legal value is questionable. This chapter highlights the importance of terminology—in law and in politics. It illustrates that terminology can serve different purposes in political and legal contexts when negotiating questions of international humanitarian law (and arms control). The chapter illustrates that the concept of “meaningful human control” does not add anything to existing standards of the law of armed conflict, perhaps even risks blurring them, but should in the first place be used for political purposes. Addressing time and place of decision-making, cognition and volition, as well as the relevance of value-based decision-making, the chapter concludes that the concept may, nevertheless, facilitate the implementation of existing law.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Law and International LawJustus Liebig University GießenGießenGermany

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