The responsibility of corporate actors involved in international crimes through autonomous weapons systems (AWS) before the international criminal court (ICC)

Jinane EL Baroudy

Article ID: 3455
Vol 8, Issue 4, 2024

VIEWS - 251 (Abstract) 100 (PDF)


The use of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) has led to several opposing legal opinions regarding their violations of international law. The responsibility of the state, individuals, and corporations as producers, designers, and programmers is all being taken into consideration. If the decision to kill humans without “meaningful human control” is transferred to computers, it would be hard to attribute accountability for the actions of AWS to their corporations. Consequently, this means that corporate actors will enjoy impunity in all cases. The present paper indicates that the most significant problem arising from the use of AWS is the attribution of responsibility for its violation. Corporations are not subject to liability for the legitimate use of weapons under international law. The main problem with corporate responsibility, according to article 25 (4) of the Rome Statute, is that the provision only relates to individual criminal responsibility and that the ICC shall only have jurisdiction over natural persons. Nevertheless, corporations may be held accountable under aspects of international law. The paper proposes a more positive view on artificial intelligence, raising corporations’ accountability in international law by historically linking the judging of business leaders. The article identifies aiding and abetting as well as co-perpetration as the two modes of accountability under international law potentially linked to AWS. The study also explores the main ambiguity in international law relating to corporate aiding and abetting of human rights violations by presenting the confusion on determining the standards of these 2 modes of liability before the ICC and International ad doc Tribunal. Moreover, with the new age of war heavily dependent on AI and AWS, one cannot easily and precisely ascertain who must be held accountable for war crimes because of the unanticipated facts in decision-making combined with the aiding or abetting of violations of international law. International law prioritizes the goal of ending impunity for the individual and largely neglects the need to achieve the same goal for corporate complicity. In sum, progress to regulate the use of AWS by corporate actors could be enormously helpful to the cause of ending impunity.


autonomous weapons system—AWS; corporations; ICC; war crime; accountability; manufacturer

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