the event

May 8, 2018

Watch Live at 5:30 PM EST

The world is in a new arms race.

In the last two decades, there has been a dramatic rise of lethal autonomous weapons due to new developments in technology, computing, and military operational demands. Because autonomous weapons systems are already in use today, the ultimate question about their capabilities is not a technical one, rather legal and ethical one. This is one of the thorniest and most pressing issues of our time.

The International Committee of the Red Cross and Vox Media’s Explainer Studio have teamed up for the first time to explore and unpack this issue in a new and exciting video titled “The Paradox of the Future Battlefield.” The ICRC in partnership with Vox Media welcomes ICRC President Peter Maurer to explain why the ICRC has made the use of autonomous weapons, and the need to maintain human control in order for them to be used responsibly and ethically, an absolute priority. Yochi Dreazen, Vox Foreign and National Security Editor, will moderate a discussion around the future battlefield more broadly, including cyber warfare, the rise of artificial intelligence, algorithmic targeting, the evolution of armed drones, civilian protection and the role of the Law of Armed Conflict. Featured expert panelists include Neil Davison, ICRC Arms Unit Scientific and Policy Advisor, Peter Singer, New America Senior Fellow and Author of Ghost Fleet, and Ashley Deeks, Professor at UVA School of Law.

Join the conversation online using #futurebattlefield and following @ICRC_dc , @voxmediainc, @PMaurerICRC, @peterwsinger, and @yochidreazen



the panel


Opening Remarks


Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC

Peter Maurer is the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He was born in Thun, Switzerland, in 1956. He studied history and international law in Bern, where he was awarded a doctorate. In 1987 he entered the Swiss diplomatic service, where he held various positions in Bern and Pretoria before being transferred to New York in 1996 as deputy permanent observer at the Swiss mission to the United Nations. In 2000 he was appointed ambassador and head of the human security division in the political directorate of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs in Bern.

In 2004, Maurer was appointed ambassador and permanent representative of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York. In this position, he worked to integrate Switzerland, which had only recently joined the United Nations, into multilateral networks. In June 2009, the UN General Assembly elected Maurer chairman of the Fifth Committee, in charge of administrative and budgetary affairs. In addition, he was elected chairman of the Burundi configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. In January 2010 Maurer was appointed secretary of State for foreign affairs in Bern and took over the reins of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, with its five directorates and some 150 Swiss diplomatic missions around the world. He succeeded Jakob Kellenberger as ICRC president on 1 July 2012. Under his leadership, the ICRC carries out humanitarian work in over 80 countries. Mr Maurer's priorities for his presidency include strengthening humanitarian diplomacy, engaging States and other actors for the respect of international humanitarian law, and improving the humanitarian response through innovation and new partnerships.




Yochi Dreazan, Vox

Yochi Dreazen is the foreign editor of Vox.com, where he runs its coverage of national security, foreign policy, and news from around the world. His book, “The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in the Era of Endless War,” was picked as one of The New York Times’s Notable Books of 2014 and one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2014. Prior to joining Vox, he was the managing editor at Foreign Policy, a contribution editor at the Atlantic, and a senior national security correspondent for National Journal. He began his career at the Wall Street Journal and spent 11 years at the newspaper, most recently as its military correspondent. Mr. Dreazen covered the invasion of Iraq and spent the next two years helping to run the paper's Baghdad bureau. Mr. Dreazen has made more than 12 lengthy trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and has spent a total of nearly four years on the ground in the two countries, mostly doing front-line combat embeds. He has reported from more than 20 countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Time, The Boston Globe, and The New Republic, and he appears regularly on TV and radio.




Ashley Deeks, University of Virginia Law

Ashley Deeks is a professor of law at the University of Virginia Law School, which she joined in 2012 after two years as an Academic Fellow at Columbia Law School.  Her primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of international law, national security, intelligence, and the laws of war.  Earlier she served as the assistant legal adviser for political-military affairs in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser.  In 2005, she served as the embassy legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Deeks was a 2007-08 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow.  She received her J.D. with honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where she served on the Law Review, and clerked for Judge Edward R. Becker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Deeks is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law, the supervising editor for AJIL Unbound, and a senior contributor to the Lawfare blog.


Peter Singer, New America

Peter Singer is a strategist and senior fellow at New America. The author of multiple award-winning books—including his most recent book Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War—Singer is considered one of the world's leading experts on 21st century security issues. He has been named by the Smithsonian Institution-National Portrait Gallery as one of the 100 leading innovators in the nation, by Defense News as one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues, and by Foreign Policy magazine to their Top 100 Global Thinkers List. Singer is a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine and the founder of NeoLuddite, a technology advisory firm. He has worked as a consultant for the US military, Defense Intelligence Agency, and FBI, as well as advised a wide-range of technology and entertainment programs, including for Warner Brothers, Dreamworks, Universal, HBO, and the video game series Call of Duty, the best-selling entertainment project in history. He is a member of the US State Department's Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy. His past work included serving as coordinator of the Obama-08 campaign's defense policy task force, in the Balkans Task Force at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as the founding director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at The Brookings Institution, where he was the youngest person named senior fellow in its 100 year history.


Mr Neil Davison.jpg

Neil Davison, ICRC

Neil Davison is the Scientific and Policy Adviser in the Arms Unit at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, working at the intersection of science and technology, policy, and international law. In this role he supports the ICRC’s work to uphold, and promote the development of, international humanitarian law to better protect those affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence, with a current focus on: new technologies of warfare, including autonomous weapon systems; chemical and biological weapons; and the use of weapons in law enforcement operations. Prior to joining the ICRC in 2011, Neil was Senior Policy Adviser for international security and diplomacy at the Royal Society, the United Kingdom's national academy of science, leading initiatives on biological risks, nuclear arms control and non-proliferation, neuroscience and society, and science diplomacy. Previously he was a researcher in the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, and he trained as a biological weapons inspector with the United Nations.  Neil holds a PhD in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford and a BSc in Biology from University College London.