UNGA Resolution on Autonomous Weapons Systems Gives States Historic Opportunity to #VoteAgainstTheMachine
After 10 years of international discussions on autonomous weapons systems, states will have an historic opportunity to demonstrate commitment to progress through a resolution that will be tabled at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly this October. The resolution marks the first time that an international vote will take place on the issue that will engage all UN member states. With mounting evidence of weapons with autonomous functionality being deployed in contemporary conflicts, states must act decisively and vote for the resolution to collectively address the serious risks such weapons pose to all of humanity.
The resolution will be tabled at the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) at the 78th Session of UN General Assembly in New York, by Austria and is already co-sponsored by 10 other states including Belgium, Costa Rica, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Switzerland. It will mandate the UN Secretary General to seek the views of all states and stakeholders, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, scientific communities, industry and civil society on addressing the legal, ethical, humanitarian and security risks associated with autonomous weapons systems, and to submit a substantive report on the way forward.
After an initial consultation at the UN in Geneva on 20th September, attended by states around the world, it is clear that the resolution already has broad global support. Amb. Schweitzer of Austria, stated that technological progress is advancing faster than international discussions, and that the resolution would provide renewed impetus for progress to be made. Further discussions are due to be held in New York during the First Committee, where states are expected to vote on the issue between 30th October to 3rd November 2023.
Throughout 2023, international momentum towards launching negotiations for a legally binding instrument has continued to grow. With conferences held in the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Luxembourg, Trinidad and Tobago, and another taking place in the Philippines at the end of the year, 100 states have now declared support for negotiating new international law on autonomous weapons systems. In his New Agenda for Peace, the UN Secretary General called upon states to conclude a legally binding instrument containing both prohibitions and regulations by 2026. The call is supported by the ICRC, experts in AI and technology and civil society organizations around the world.
In support of the resolution, Stop Killer Robots has launched the #VoteAgainstTheMachine campaign. We are calling upon governments around the world to vote yes, to take a stand against the development and use of machines that make life and death decisions and deliver a positive step towards launching international negotiations. Our resources in support of the resolution include, ‘5 Reasons Why States Should the Support the Resolution’, and ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ on the resolution, which can be found on our resources page.
The world is demanding that action be taken to launch negotiations for a new treaty on autonomous weapons systems. Through this resolution, states have an opportunity to collectively overcome the serious risks posed by autonomous weapons systems, counter digital dehumanization, and build a future that upholds international law, ethical principles, peace, and security for all. We urge all states to support the resolution and demonstrate that world leaders are able and willing to safeguard the rights and dignities of humanity in the face of rapidly advancing technological change.