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Merel Ekelhof is a PhD researcher at the VU University Amsterdam, a visiting researcher at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC) and a research fellow at the Centre for the Politics of Transnational Law. Her research – commissioned by the Netherlands Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs – examines the effect of increasingly autonomous technologies on military decision-making with a specific focus on the application of the law of armed conflict and human control in the targeting process.

Ms. Ekelhof presents her work to and regularly engages with governments, humanitarian organizations, UN agencies (i.e. CCW), military services, international organizations (i.e. NATO), research institutes, the media and NGOs on issues related to Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems. Her research focuses on the intersection between targeting law, autonomous technologies and military decision-making. She specialized in military decision-making through her fieldwork and the completion of several military and civilian courses and exercises with regard to advanced targeting, weapons law and the future of targeting. Ms. Ekelhof holds an LL.B in International and European Law from the University of Groningen and an LL.M in Law and Politics of International Security from the VU University Amsterdam.

Education/Academic qualification

Weapons Law and the Legal Review of Weapons Course, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

7 Dec 201511 Dec 2015

LL.M Law and Politics of International Security, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Aug 2012May 2014

LL.B International and European Law, Rijksuniversiteti Groningen

Aug 2008Jan 2012

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

weapon Social Sciences
Military Social Sciences
ban Social Sciences
UNO Social Sciences
semantics Social Sciences
expert Social Sciences
conventional weapon Social Sciences
UN Convention Social Sciences

Research Output 2015 2019

  • 6 Article
  • 2 Online publication or Website
  • 1 Chapter
  • 1 Paper

Moving Beyond Semantics on Autonomous Weapons: Meaningful Human Control in Operation

Ekelhof, M. A. C., 19 Mar 2019, In : Global Policy. p. 1-6 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
conventional weapon
UN Convention

Autonome wapensystemen: Wat we moeten weten over de toepassing van het humanitair oorlogsrecht en de menselijke rol in militaire besluitvorming

Ekelhof, M. A. C., 1 Mar 2018, In : Ars aequi. 2018, maart, p. 193-202 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademic

Decision Making

Autonomous weapons: meaningful human control in operation

Ekelhof, M. A. C., 15 Aug 2018

Research output: Online publication or Non-textual formOnline publication or WebsitePopular

Open Access

Lifting the Fog of Targeting: “Autonomous Weapons” and human control through the lens of military targeting

Ekelhof, M. A. C., Jun 2018, In : Naval War College Review. 71, 3, p. 61-94 34 p., 6.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access

Complications of a Common Language: Why it is so Hard to Talk about Autonomous Weapons

Ekelhof, M. A. C., 20 Apr 2017, In : Journal of Conflict and Security Law. 20, 2, p. 311-331 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access

Activities 2015 2018

Presentation at the US DoD Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) at the Pentagon

Merel Ekelhof (Speaker)
Jan 2018

Activity: Lecture / PresentationProfessional

Harvard University

Merel Ekelhof (Visiting researcher)
Jan 2018Apr 2018

Activity: Visiting an external institutionVisiting an external academic institution

Presentation at the United Nations CCW on Increasingly Autonomous Capabilities in the Military Context

Merel Ekelhof (Speaker)
15 Nov 2017

Activity: Lecture / PresentationProfessional

SIPRI conference on Article 36 reviews and emerging technologies

Merel Ekelhof (Participant)
20 Sep 201721 Sep 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventWorkshopSocietal

Autonomous Weapon Systems “Tech-Gaming” Exercise

Merel Ekelhof (Participant)
10 Nov 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOther eventSocietal

Press / Media

BNR Digitaal interview: Autonome Wapens Reguleren

M.A.C. Ekelhof


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Niet elke killer robot is een bedreiging

M.A.C. Ekelhof


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment