Find a researcher at the Faculty of Law – University of Copenhagen

Forward this page to a friend Resize Print Bookmark and Share

Faculty of Law > Staff > Find a researcher at t...

Léonard Van Rompaey

Léonard Van Rompaey

PhD Student

  • PhD programme

    Karen Blixens Plads 16, 2300 København S, Søndre Campus, Building: 6A-4-19

    Phone: +45 35 33 69 33Mobile: +45 71 63 19 18

Member of:

    The central theme that unites Léonard's research and professional experiences is that of defense, security and international relations. The topics that he has developed through his research follow this path and have been centered around new technologies of war: autonomous weapons, drones, cyber weapons and human military enhancement

    The first research he did on the subject was concluded while graduating with a Master of International Public Law from Aix-Marseille University where he also obtained his Bachelor of Law. The doctoral research he is now starting focuses on Autonomous Weapons by trying to understand how autonomy within machines will work out with the anthropocentric nature of Law.  

    This interest for the legal questions surrounding military robotics was born during an internship at the United Nation's Office for Disarmament Affairs in Geneva in 2014 where he helped prepare the first Meeting of experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. Other experiences include an internship at the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments working on sanctions, and strong implication in arts and student associations.

    Current research

    PhD research: Theoretical and Practical Challenges posed by Artificial Autonomy to the Anthropocentric Nature of International Humanitarian Law

    This thesis explores the human nature of law as an incompatible factor with autonomous robotics by focusing on humanitarian law and military technologies. 
    While autonomous weapons are not widespread yet, there already are some functioning technologies in use, and the political and strategic incentives are too great for the technologically-capable States to renounce developing and using these. The majority of States as well as the academia agree that international humanitarian law (IHL) is applicable to autonomous weapons, and the debates are centred around ethical questions, technological capacity to maintain respect of IHL standards and necessity for transparency, and where the technical and strategic components of the discussions serving to illustrate and inform on the possible futures. 

    Law as a product of human minds is necessarily bound by our cognitive capacities, that this shaping might not be fully compatible with machines making decisions based on cognitive behaviour fundamentally incomparable to ours is not questioned, there only exists an authoritarian answer that it is necessary for IHL to apply in all conflict situations.This research projects aims at revealing what is anthropocentric from a neuroscientific and cognitive sciences perspective in our legal system of humanitarian law. It explains why rules like proportionality and the legal review of new weapons are too anthropocentric to be effectively applied to or by robots. All of this results in an argument in favour of making regulations that are exclusively targeting the human beings behind the robots, while adapting our interpretation of current IHL to strictly implement this anthropocentrism when dealing with autonomous weapons.

    Primary fields of research

    • International Public Law
    • International Humanitarian Law
    • Theory of Law

    Teaching

    • Legal French
    • International Public Law (BA)

    ID: 169399610