Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and the independent human rights organization Human Rights Watch have authored a report titled “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots.” The report, released Nov. 19, argues that governments should pre-emptively ban fully autonomous weapons because of the danger they pose to civilians in armed conflict. These future weapons, sometimes called “killer robots,” would be able to choose and fire on targets without human intervention.

The 50-page report also outlines concerns about these fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law’s power to deter future violations.

“Losing Humanity is the first major publication about fully autonomous weapons by a nongovernmental organization and is based on extensive research into the law, technology, and ethics of these proposed weapons. It is jointly published by Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic.

Human Rights Watch and the International Human Rights Clinic called for an international treaty that would absolutely prohibit the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. They also called on individual nations to pass laws and adopt policies as important measures to prevent development, production, and use of such weapons at the domestic level.