March 30, 2015
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots acknowledges the contributions made by Ms. Angela Kane of Germany, United Nations (UN) High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, in leading efforts to address the emerging issue of fully autonomous weapons systems.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on 24 March that Kane will soon step down as UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, a position she has held since March 2012. Following her departure, Mr. Kim Won-soo of South Korea has been designated as Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
The UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs first spoke publicly on the matter at the first Human Rights Council debate on lethal autonomous robots on 30 May 2013. She then penned a July 2013 article for The Huffington Post that observed the challenge requires “some global standards” and suggested UN disarmament fora and the UN General Assembly address the implications of killer robots.
These and subsequent statements by the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs on fully autonomous weapons have helped explain the concerns and underscore the need for multilateral deliberations on the subject and new global standards.
During Kane’s tenure as UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, nations agreed by consensus in November 2013 to begin multilateral talks on autonomous weapons. The nations that are part of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) held their first experts meeting on “lethal autonomous weapons systems” in Geneva in May 2014, while a follow-up meeting will open in two weeks time, on 13 April. In preparing its delegation for the meetings, the campaign has enjoyed excellent cooperation with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in Geneva and its CCW support unit.
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots representatives met with the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs in June 2014 and again in October 2014 to discuss the need for greater gender diversity in the CCW process on lethal autonomous weapons systems and in UN disarmament processes more generally. The campaign appreciates the support expressed by Kane on this matter and is pleased to see several women experts are now confirmed to speak at the upcoming CCW experts meeting.
While Kane was the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters has discussed measures that can be taken on fully autonomous weapons on several occasions, while the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) is contributing substantively to increasing understanding with its project on the “weaponization of increasingly autonomous technologies.”
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots hopes that Kane’s successor will address concerns over fully autonomous weapons with the same high level of engagement and interest as she did.
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Photo: UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane signs the Maputo +15 Declaration at the Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference in Maputo, Mozambique (c) Mine Ban Treaty ISU, 26 June 2014