Afonso was born in Porto, Portugal, in 1973. He joined the Portuguese Province of the Society of Jesus in 1998, after he graduated in Law by the Portuguese Catholic University (Porto). Afonso has a degree in Philosophy (Licence) by the Portuguese Catholic University (Braga) for which he was awarded the Prize Pe Vitorio de Sousa Alves and he has a degree in Theology by the Pontificia Universita Gregoriana (Italy)). Afonso has a Master’s in International Law and Human Rights by the London School of Economics (UK). In early 2019, Afonso completed his doctoral thesis in International Humanitarian Law at the School of Law of the University of Essex (UK), entitled The Legitimacy and Accountability for the Deployment of Autonomous Weapon System under International Humanitarian Law. Since 2015, Afonso has been teaching Law in European and British Universities.
In September 2018, Afonso joined the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) directed by Professor Dapo Akande at the Balavatnik School of Government. He holds currently the position of Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the BSG and Junior Research Fellow at Campion Hall.
Research Activity and Presentations
- September 2019 Presentation Sistemas Autonomos de Guerra, Inquietacoes Juridicas at XIII Conference of Official Portuguese Accountants.
- July 2019, Presentation Legal and Ethical Challenges of Robots on the Battlefield. Can a War be Justified? at 7th International Conference on Ethics Education.
- May 2019, Presentation Drones, Artificial Intelligence and Laws of War at the Associação de Juristas Católicos (Catholic Lawyers Association).
- October 2018 iTalk at Vieira d’Almeida Law Firm (Lisbon) “E quando os Robots Tiverem Direito a Matar?”
- June 2018: Presentation/Debate at the Conference Artificial Intelligence. Disruption and Opportunity organised by the Miguel Galvão Telles. Followed by debate (Professor Arlindo Oliveira (IST); Andreas Matthias (Lingnan University); Afonso Seixas-Nunes (university of Essex)
- July 2017: Invited by H.Ex. the Portuguese Minister of Defence, conference at the Portuguese Military University Institute, “A problemática jurídico-internacional dos Sistemas Autónomos de Guerra (SAG): a revolução do paradigma militar”.
- External Member of the Examination board for International Law Master Dissertations at the Portuguese Catholic University (Porto) in the area of International Humanitarian Law.
- June 2017: Conference at Universidade do Minho Law School, “Sistemas Autónomos de Guerra. O terminator a ocupar o lugar do Soldado? Desafios para o DIH.
- December 2016: Tedex Matosinhos, Portugal “Quando um robot decide matar: o poder transformador da tecnologia de Guerra”.
- Conference at the Portuguese Catholic University Law School, Porto, Portugal “Robots e Humanos de costas voltadas? A Problemática de Sistemas Autónomos.
- Conference at Lisbon Law School (FDL), Portugal, “Os desafios tecnológicos actuais para o DIH”, under the invitation of the Professor Maria Luisa Duarte.
- February 2016 Seminar entitled “New Technologies of War: Challenges for IHL”. Seminar of eight hours, being invited to teach this seminar by Prof Joana Abrisketa from the Universidad de Deusto, Instituto de Derechos Humanos Pedro Arrupe (Bilbao, Spain).
- May 2015 Conference at Law School, Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal "Will Robot be Virtual Soldiers? A Legal Perspective" This conference was part of 2 week course organised by the University of Minho entitled Armed Conflicts of the future: what challenges?
- November 2014 Essex, LSE, Cambridge University Event "Autonomous Systems and Robots, what to think about them?"
- “Autonomous Weapon Systems. Compatibility with International Humanitarian Law” in Direito Internacional e o Uso da Força no Século XXI (Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Lisboa, 2018)
- “Uma guerra pouco humana? Os chamados Sistemas Autónomos de Guerra” in Brotéria, Vol. 185, issue 2/3, 2017, 229-240
- “Autonomous Weapon Systems: Ethical and Legal challenges. Two questions and two Answers” in Razon y Fe (Working in progress)
- “The Holy See and the possibility of Autonomous Weapon Systems. Love or hate?” in Civilta Cattolica (Working in Progress).
- Opinion Articles in Newspapers
- ”Robots a tomar decisões no campo de batalha. A Autonomia Militar: Um Drama Jurídico-Internacional?” in Publico (21st December de 2016).
- “O Novo Livro de José Sócrates ‘O Mal que Deploramos - O Drone, o Terror e os Assassinatos-Alvo’. Ambicioso mas não Convincente” in Observador (4th November 2017)