Whilst considering that unmanned and automated systems will take on a growing role in its military forces,  the UK Government has committed in parliament that the operation of weapon systems will always remain under human control. This commitment provides a positive basis for discussing the effective control of autonomous weapons for the future. However, this commitment is brought into question by a consideration of the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Joint Doctrine Note on ‘The UK Approach to Unmanned Systems.’ As a result, current UK doctrine is confused and there are a number of areas where policy needs further elaboration if it is not to be so ambiguous as to be meaningless.
This paper calls on the UK Government to:
* Commit to, and elaborate, meaningful human control over individual attacks.
* Strengthen commitment not to develop fully autonomous weapons and systems that could undertake attacks without meaningful human control.
* Recognize that an international treaty is needed to prohibit fully autonomous weapons and to clarify and strengthen legal protection from autonomous weapons more broadly.