IRRC No. 886

The role of civil society in the development of standards around new weapons and other technologies of warfare

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This article considers the role of civil society in the development of new standards around weapons. The broad but informal roles that civil society has undertaken are contrasted with the relatively narrow review mechanisms adopted by states in fulfillment of their legal obligations. Such review mechanisms are also considered in the context of wider thinking about processes by which society considers new technologies that may be adopted into the public sphere. The article concludes that formalized review mechanisms, such as those undertaken in terms of Article 36 of Additional Protocol I (1977) of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, should be a focus of civil society attention in their own right as part of efforts to strengthen standard setting in relation to emerging military technologies. Keywords: weapon review, Article 36, civil society, new technology.

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