The Accountability of Software Developers for War Crimes Involving Autonomous Weapons: The Role of the Joint Criminal Enterprise Doctrine

  • Elliot Winter

Abstract

This Article considers the extent to which the joint criminal enterprise doctrine could be invoked to hold software developers criminally accountable for violations of international humanitarian law involving autonomous weapons. More specifically, it considers whether the third part of the concept—which concerns common criminal purposes—might be brought to bear to achieve this end. The doctrine is deconstructed into five components, and each component is analyzed both in abstract and in terms of practical application. The Article establishes that, in certain contexts, software developers can and should be held accountable through this mechanism. Thus, it demonstrates that it is possible to avoid the emergence of a “responsibility gap” if, or more likely when, autonomous weapons with offensive capabilities are finally deployed on the battlefield. 

Published
2021-10-06
How to Cite
Winter, Elliot. 2021. “The Accountability of Software Developers for War Crimes Involving Autonomous Weapons: The Role of the Joint Criminal Enterprise Doctrine”. University of Pittsburgh Law Review 83 (1). https://doi.org/10.5195/lawreview.2021.822.