The Future Digital Battlefield and Challenges for Humanitarian Protection: A Primer

The digitalization of warfare proceeds quickly, as witnessed during the international armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 or the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

A key question related to the increasing employment of digital technologies in warfare – artificial intelligence/machine learning, drones, swarms, or ‘human enhancement’ technologies – is whether the existing legal frameworks, including international humanitarian law (IHL), are up to the task when it comes to the efficacy of the law of armed conflict and the protection it affords.

Written by Dr Henning Lahmann, The Future Digital Battlefield and Challenges for Humanitarian Protection: A Primer provides an overview of the various novel technologies that together form part of the ‘future digital battlefield’ and assesses some of the implications they have for humanitarian protection in armed conflict.

Based on the discussions during a high-level expert workshop conducted in August 2021, the paper identifies five main aspects regarding humanitarian protection that merit further research.

AUTHOR

Portrait of Henning Lahmann

Henning Lahmann

Associate Research Fellow

Henning Lahmann participates in the research at the Geneva Academy on disruptive military technologies.

NEWS AND EVENTS

Cable network photo News

Assessing the Impact of Novel Technologies for Humanitarian Protection in Armed Conflict

10 May 2022

Our new Working Paper provides an overview of the various novel technologies that together form part of the ‘future digital battlefield’ and assesses some of the implications they have for humanitarian protection in armed conflict.

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Francesca Gortan, Sarah Surget and Sophie Timmermans during a simulation at Pictet 2022 News

Our Team at Pictet: Much More than Reaching the Final

11 April 2022

During one week, Francesca Gortan, Sarah Surget and Sophie Timmermans represented the Geneva Academy at the 38th Edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition that took place in Durrës, Albania, from 19 to 26 March.

Read more

Portrait of Said Condo Ndoli News

Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict: What Alumni Say

10 June 2022

Said Condo Ndoli is the Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sub-delegation in Timbuktu, Mali and graduated from our Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict in 2021.

Read more

Logo of the Atlas Network Event

Women's Perspectives on a Career in International Law

6 July 2022, 13:00-14:30

In this online event co-organized with the ATLAS Network, prominent women in international law will share their experience and advice through an interactive discussion.

Read more

Ukraine, damaged bicycle and car in front of a destroyed building Short Course

Protection of Persons and Property in International Armed Conflict

Fall 2022

This short course examines the conduct of hostilities in situations of international armed conflict, also known as the Law of The Hague.

Read more

Côte d'Ivoire,  Abidjan, military instruction center in Akandjé. An ICRC dissemination session on international humanitarian law for the 1st bataillon of commando paratroopers. Short Course

The Implementation of International Humanitarian Law

Spring 2023

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.

Read more

Futuristic Robot Arm Interacting with Screen Project

Disruptive Technologies and Rights-Based Resilience

Started in July 2021

This project will facilitate a multistakeholder consultative process to identify knowledge gaps, generate new evidence and co-design evidence-based tools to support regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies.

Read more

Screen Shot of Obsolete, a game made for the 7DFPS project in 7 days. Download for PC and Mac Project

Disruptive Military Technologies

Started in February 2020

This project aims at staying abreast of the various military technology trends; promoting legal and policy debate on new military technologies; and furthering the understanding of the convergent effects of different technological trends shaping the digital battlefield of the future.

Read more

Cover of the Publication Publication

The Future Digital Battlefield and Challenges for Humanitarian Protection: A Primer

published on April 2022

Henning Lahmann

Read more