Research page

Project lead: Paola Gaeta, Professor, International Law

Timeline: July 2018 - June 2022
Keywords: international criminal law; international humanitarian law; individual criminal responsibility for war crimes; autonomous weapons systems; war crimes; methods of warfare
Funding Organisation: Swiss National Science Foundation


The LAWS & War Crimes project analyses the challenges of ascribing criminal responsibility for war crimes raised by the advent of increasingly autonomous weapon systems and human-machine shared decision-making in the targeting process (so-called mixed-initiative systems). 

In particular, the project focusses on the criminal responsibility of the user of autonomous weapons and of the human-operator in mixed systems. It is in this area that the risk of a responsibility gap is greatest. It is likely that the criminal intent required for the commission of war crimes in combat operations is lacking. At the same time, it is also likely that the causal connection between the human conduct and the harmful and wrongful result is missing.

The LAWS & War Crimes project seeks to understand this gap, both at the international and domestic level, and identify ways to resolve it.

The project team consists of an international team of researchers based at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and is supported by a four-year grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation. More information can be found on the website of the LAWS and War Crimes project”.

Research Affiliates

Lethal Autonomous Weapons: 10 things we want to know 

Lethal Autonomous Weapons: 10 things we want to know is a podcast series produced as part of the LAWS and War Crimes research project, based at the International Law department of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Over the course of ten episodes, the members of the research team will interview experts in various disciplines (science, law, ethics, etc.) who have studied and written about lethal autonomous weapon systems or LAWS. This podcast offers a multidisciplinary introduction concerning the challenges and problems raised by LAWS (or LAWS 1.0) to all those who have an academic interest in this topic.


Listen to further Podcast episodes. 

Logo LAWS podcast


Conference papers and presentations

Policy engagement and expert meetings 



Email us at, or find us on Twitter @LAWS_WarCrimes.

Physical mail can be directed to International Law Department, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2A, 1211 Genève 1.

The LAWS & War Crimes project team is happy to review books and papers relating to our research areas and sent to the postal address above.