The Round Table on current issues of international humanitarian law, milestone of the activities of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, encourages members of scientific, diplomatic, institutional and military circles from all over the world to meet informally and to examine the more burning issues concerning the promotion of, respect for and development of international humanitarian law with an eye to the future.
The Sanremo Round Table, jointly organized every year in September by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and the International Committee of the Red Cross, took place in Sanremo from 4 to 6 September 2019. This year, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions the Round Table addressed the topic “Whither the human in armed conflict? IHL implications of new technology in warfare”. Cyber warfare, artificial intelligence and other contemporary legal challenges deriving from the use of new technologies in military operations constituted the defining issues of the event.
During the Round Table different issues were addressed, including cyber attacks, potential human costs of cyber operations and how the military use cyber technology in contemporary armed conflict. Furthermore, participants discussed the issue of the use of autonomous weapons, with special reference to the central question of what type and how much human control is required for both compliance with IHL and for ethical acceptability of such weapons.
The use of artificial intelligence and the challenges related to outer space warfare were also brilliantly discussed, trying to assess the potential military advantages of artificial intelligence technology in warfare and the possible humanitarian consequences of its applications.
Moreover, some additional critical questions related to the military use of outer space in armed conflict were identified, such as which developments would be anticipated in the coming years, how IHL applies in outer space and which challenges exist for applying current rules in outer space.