Humanitarian Law: Growth of Technology and the Nature of Conflict

At the beginning, I have to state the palpable: the implementation of IHL, like all of international law, is endangered by ignorance, manipulation, reluctant of the state parties, misconception of the treaty requirements and so on. In addition to these, the developments of technologies have caused some new difficulties to the implementation of IHL. The 20th and 21st centuries observed the usage of numerous novel weapons and military strategies in the armed conflict namely the drones, autonomous weapons, cyber warfare and automated weapons which eroded the defense of the endangered people and objects (Schmitt et al. 2004). The Unmanned Ariel Vehicle normally known as drone was, although, first deployed for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes in 1960s, later on over the past ten to fifteen years, it was used on a substantial scale for military and counter-terrorism reasons with little deliberation to the rules of jus ad bellum and jus in bello (Maslen 2012:598). Another new big field of conflict is the virtual world where in the cyber-attack the guidelines of IHL are often neglected. The other new weapons namely nuclear, chemical weapons, autonomous and automated weapons which are unselective in nature are also current threat to the use of international humanitarian law (Schmitt et al. 2004). It emphases the advances and usages of new weapons and means namely drones, autonomous and automated weapons, chemical weapons and cyber warfare in the international armed conflict (IAC) and non-international armed conflict (NIAC) by state or individual or non-state actors. This paper also highlights paper will base a discussion on these new technological development in the field of warfare and then show why the International Humanitarian Law is insufficient in addressing them.

The interaction between the growth of technology and the nature of conflict is a constant history of war. From time immemorial the States and its armed forces have retorted to the advances of technology and science by implementing new weapons in the battlefield (Stewart: 271). Once in the armed conflict, weapons like bow and arrow, sickle, knive and sword were used by the parties. The rapid change of science and technology has resulted in the discovery of more sophisticated weapons. The 20th century has transformed the warfare by new technologies and novel weapons. Boothby (2014:22) states among the new methods of warfare the most commonly used in the current past are the biological and chemical weapons, remote controlled weapons and cyber warfare. Some additional weapons which are yet to be designed but under horizon namely artificial intelligence, fully autonomous weapons and Nano-technological weapons would be the most dangerous technology in the war. These weapons can be grouped in two categories: Existing new technological weapons and Futuristic technological weapons. Existing weapons are those weapons which are already in use while futuristic weapons are those planned to be developed in the near future.

Some weapons are already in use in both IAC and NIAC namely chemical and radiological weapons, unmanned technological and biological weapons, cyber warfare, automated weapons and the remote-controlled weapons systems and so on. It is not manifest whether these weapons have been established conforming with the obligations imposed under article 36 of the Additional Protocol (AP) I. It is vibrant that the current usage of them in the armed conflicts have often sullied the rules of IHL. This easy is an effort to focus on what and how the recently established weapons have sophisticated the application and implementation of IHL in the armed conflict.