Responsibility for violation of International Law by Human Enhanced Soldiers

By: Yahli Shereshevsky

Technological developments, such as cyber warfare and autonomous weapon systems, are the subject of great interest in the study of international law in recent years. Among the new technological developments, military human enhancement of soldiers is an area of technological development that received less attention. My research, which is part of the "Regulating Military Applications of Cyber Enhancement of Humans" project, explore the legal implications of this technology. Within this broader project, my research focuses on the responsibility for international law violations by human enhanced soldiers.

Human enhancement of soldiers can take many forms, including tools that increase the strength and endurance of soldiers as well as brain-machine interfaces that enable soldiers to control weapon systems. It can also potentially allow commanders to increase their involvement and control in the actions of their subordinates in the battlefield. These different forms of military human enhancement raise many ethical and legal questions including, inter alia, questions of bio- ethics and the responsibility of the supply chain for violations of international law. My focus in this project is on individual legal responsibility for the use of human enhanced technologies. Specifically, the project focuses on the question of international criminal responsibility of military enhanced soldiers and their commanders. Such focus on the conduct of soldiers is an important example of the difference between human enhancement and other technological developments, such as autonomous weapons, where the discussion often focuses on the supply chain and on the decision to employ technologies in the battlefield.

The first part of the research discusses various human enhancement methods that can have implications on individual criminal responsibility. These include technologies that can affect the emotions and decision making of soldiers, the knowledge of the soldiers or the ability of commanders to interfere with the decision making and actions of their subordinates. The second part of the research explores various international criminal law questions that relate to these methods. These include the division of criminal responsibility between the commander and the subordinates and the potential effect of human enhancement on the actus reus and mens rea of the soldiers. Finally, the project explores whether existing international criminal law rules can sufficiently address the criminal responsibility of military enhanced soldiers.