Outreach at the UN in New York
For the fifth consecutive year in a row, states at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York have expressed concern over fully autonomous weapons, also known as lethal autonomous weapons systems.
More than 150 countries are participating in the month-long 72nd session of UNGA First Committee in addition to key UN agencies such as UNIDIR, the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to advance humanitarian disarmament. Participants include the global NGO coalitions working to advance humanitarian disarmament, including the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
As of 24 October, at least 34 countries and three regional groups have raised fully autonomous weapons in their statements to the 72nd session of UNGA First Committee on Disarmament: Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Japan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States plus the European Union, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Nordic countries. Several states raised the topic more than once during UNGA First Committee. The UN Secretary General’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, also commented on fully autonomous weapons in her remarks to the opening and to a session on emerging technologies. (Extracts of these statements follow below.)
Most statements saw states express interest in the CCW’s Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems established last December and many expressed regret that the group still has not met yet. Under “frontier issues,” the UN Secretary General’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, remarked that: “Rapid advances in the civilian and military application of artificial intelligence should continue to give impetus for formal deliberations on lethal autonomous weapon systems within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.”
Ambassador Amandeep Singh Gill of India spoke in his capacity as chair of the first meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts, which will finally take place at the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva on 13-17 November. To lay the ground for progress, he described a “continued substantive mandate, adequate financial resources and the participation of all stakeholders” as “essential in this regard.”
Cuba, Ecuador, and Pakistan reiterated their long-standing call for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems, while Russia warned against “attempts to impose preventive limitations or prohibitions on this type of prospective weapons and relevant technologies.”
The group of Nordic countries urged that further consideration be given to the notion of “human control over new weapons” and affirmed that “humans should always bear the ultimate responsibility when dealing with questions of life and death.”
On 10 October, Campaign to Stop Killer Robots coordinator Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch delivered a statement at UNGA First Committee that highlighted our dismay that states have not met to discuss fully autonomous weapons since April 2016. Meanwhile, concerns are mounting over these weapons, that, once activated, would select and fire on targets without meaningful human control.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots urges states meeting next month at the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) for the first meeting of a Group of Governmental Experts to agree on “options” for the optimal outcome on these deliberations. This level of interest that states have shown in taking action on this issue shows there is likely a strong foundation of support for creating new international law. The campaign calls on states to continue the Group of Governmental Experts and require that it meet for at least four weeks in 2018 so that it can “lay the groundwork necessary to negotiate a new CCW protocol on lethal autonomous weapons systems.”
In its UNGA statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that the discussions in the CCW “have shown broad agreement among States that human control must be retained over weapon systems and the use of force.” It said that “the framework of human control provides a necessary baseline from which common understandings can be developed among States” and urged states to seize the opportunity to “consider in more depth where the limits on autonomy in weapon systems must be established to ensure IHL compliance and to satisfy ethical concerns.”
On 17 October, campaign representatives met for an hour with UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu. Previously, at the end of June, the UN disarmament chief met with Nobel Peace Co-Laureate Jody Williams of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and Wareham.
On 16 October, the Permanent Mission of Mexico and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots convened a side event briefing for UNGA First Committee delegates. Countries attending this briefing included France, India, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the UK, in addition to Mexico. Other 2017 UNGA First Committee side events hosted by Kazakhstan on 4 October, UNIDIR on 5 October, and Germany on 25 October also considered concerns over fully autonomous weapons.
On 14-15 October, members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots participated in the sixth annual Humanitarian Disarmament Forum in New York together with other NGOs and global coalitions, including , 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and 1997 Nobel Peace Co-Laureate the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
A total of 36 states highlighted fully autonomous weapons in their statements to the last UNGA First Committee session in 2016, while 32 states did so in 2015, 23 in 2014, and 35 in 2013, when the issue was first raised.
2017 UNGA country statement references to killer robots
Algeria (23 October) – “The use of artificial intelligence holds the promise of a bright future. However, the use of AI to develop lethal autonomous weapons system poses great challenges. The international community must adopt clear laws. We welcome the decision on the Fifth Review Conference of the CCW to address these important issues.”
Argentina (23 October) – “Argentina considers that the CCW offers the right framework to negotiate new instruments dealing with other weapons which are not yet fully regulated from a humanitarian point of view, such as lethal autonomous weapons systems.”
Bangladesh (18 October) – “Bangladesh appreciates the outcome of the Fifth Review Conference of the CCW held in Geneva last year. We welcome the decision to establish of an open-ended Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) related to the emerging technologies in the area of lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) in the context of the objectives and purpose of CCW. We look forward to substantive outcomes from the GGE’s deliberations.”
Botswana (23 October) – “Botswana reiterates its support for the work of the 5th Review Conference to the “Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons” (CCW). We welcome with appreciation, the appointment of a Group of Governmental Expert who will amongst others examine challenges related to emerging technologies in the area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS).”
Burkina Faso (23 October) – “The search for durable solutions to the emergence of new challenges resulting from fully autonomous weapons systems is essential for all. Our individual security is guaranteed only when the so-called collective security is ensured, then, let us combine our efforts to build peaceful societies and thus to preserve the future generations from threats related to the proliferation of conventional arms.”
Canada (20 October) – “Canada will participate in the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. A deeper understanding of the multi-faceted issues these weapons present is needed in the international community. In order for important planned meetings, such as those on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, to take place it is imperative that the Convention’s financial situation be stabilized.”
China (20 October) – “In recent years, the humanitarian concerns caused by Lethal Autonomous Weapon System (LAWS) have caused the attention of the international community. China is of the view that countries should abide by the UN Charter and armed conflict law while using LAWS, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries, and attach importance to the humanitarian consequences and other issues possibly caused by these weapons. China supports and will participate actively in the discussions on LAWS within the framework of CCW.”.
Costa Rica (18 October) – “We must also address the ethical, legal and technical concerns that have arisen raising with regard to the systems of lethal autonomous weapons, which are in our view, contrary to international humanitarian law and international human rights law. humans. We expect substantive discussions on 105 challenges in this context, in the following meeting of the Governmental Group of Experts within the framework of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. – Google translation
Cuba (20 October) – “We call for the adoption, as soon as possible, of a Protocol prohibiting lethal autonomous weapons, also called “killer robots,” before large scale begins to occur.”
Ecuador (20 October) – “My country believes that the international community must continue the debate about unmanned aerial vehicles and lethal autonomous weapons systems. The use of these new bellicose technologies brings with it serious humanitarian concerns, the international community in its various regional forums and must continue to deepen the implications they bring for international humanitarian law, including providing for the prohibition of such weapons. We regret budgetary reasons have not been met by the Experts on lethal autonomous weapons. We hope that this situation, with the all 105 States, can be solved.”
Egypt (19 October) – “Egypt acknowledges the need for the United Nations to launch as early as possible objective discussions on the ethical, humanitarian, legal, and technical aspects surrounding the issue of lethal autonomous weapons.”
Finland (5 October) – “… new technology is changing the global political environment. Science and technology, internet, social media, space and cyber technology, and artificial intelligence have immense positive impact on life everywhere. At the same time we need to look seriously into how these affect international security and arms control. The development of lethal autonomous weapons opens up a totally new perspective on warfare. This poses difficult questions about ethics, regulation and international rules.”
France (4 October) – “The international community also needs to mobilize more, with the support of civil society, to enhance compliance with international humanitarian law and achieve progress in the concrete implementation and universalization of existing instruments. … It also applies to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which has been bolstered by the positive outcome of the latest Review Conference, including on the prospective issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems and on improvised explosive devices. My country will continue giving its full backing and necessary expertise to progress on these subjects.”
France – II (18 October) – “The CCW Review Conference was held in November 2016. This Convention is unique in the multilateral landscape because it brings together complementary expertise, be it political, legal, military, or diplomatic. This specificity of the CCW is a guarantee of the Convention’s ability to address current and future challenges. The fact that CCW States Parties are dealing with the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems, as proposed by France in 2013, is a significant development with regard to the Convention. France supports the continuation of dialogue on the issues relating to these future systems, and was pleased to see agreement at the Review Conference of November 2016 to establish a Group of governmental experts with a discussion mandate. France, [together with Germany, has formulated substantive proposals which contribute to the GGE’s work. We] hopes that substantial progress will be made under the CCW.” – Official translation
Germany (2 October) – “I would also like to draw on an emerging issue of great importance: Lethal autonomous weapons systems. As the speed of technological progress increases, it is high time to finally tackle this issue. We see a strong need for discussing policy-guidelines and best-practices designed to ensure future weapons systems are in full compliance with international law and we look forward to contributing actively to the Group of Governmental Experts in November.”
Germany – II (18 October) – “The CCW’s work on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) has been extremely useful over the past years. In order to further contribute to an informed debate of the GGE we established the independent Scientific International Panel on the Regulation of Autonomous Weapons (IPRAW). We invite parties to a second briefing on the Panel’s work on 25th October to the German House.”
Hungary (5 October) – “We attach high importance to the Amended Protocol II and in particular to the issue of improvised explosive devices as well as to the work of governmental experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems.”
India (9 October) – “The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons or the CCW is an important and valuable instrument. India welcomes the outcome of the Fifth Review Conference held in 2016, including the decision to establish an openended Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) related to emerging technologies in the area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems in the context of the objectives and purposes of the Convention. In my capacity as Chair of the GGE, I am pleased with the consultations that are preceding it and I look forward to a stimulating discussion next month in Geneva, which should lay the ground for further progress. A continued substantive mandate, adequate financial resources and the participation of all stakeholders are essential in this regard.”
India – II (18 October) – “India welcomes the outcome of the Fifth Review Conference of the CCW held in 2016, including the decision to establish an open-ended Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) related to emerging technologies in the area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) in the context of the objectives and purposes of the Convention. We look forward to a good discussion at the GGE in November, which should lay the ground for further progress. A continued substantive mandate, adequate financial resources and the participation of all stakeholders are essential in this regard.”
Ireland (9 October) – “With respect to the challenges posed by increasing autonomy in weapons systems my Delegation is of the view that the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems should develop a working definition and discuss the application of and compliance with International Humanitarian Law, in accordance with the recommendations of the 2016 Group of Expert s and the mandate of the CCW Review Conference.”
Ireland – II (20 October) – “We are encouraged by t he active consideration which has been given to the question of lethal Autonomous Weapons systems at the CCW. We look forward to the meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts which should take as its starting point the recommendations of the 2016 Experts Group and the mandate of the Review Conference.”
Japan (18 October) – “We recognize the growing interest in the international community regarding the issue of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS). Since the 1st informal expert meeting in 2013, there have been some positive results on this issue, but there are still many technological, military, legal, and ethical questions to consider. In this regard, we welcome the decision of the 5th CCW Review Conference to convene the open-ended Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on LAWS in 2017. Despite the cancellation of the LAWS GGE scheduled in August, which is regrettable, we have to intensify the discussions and address some of the challenges at the GGE in November in order to achieve substantial progress.”
Kazakhstan (9 October) – “We welcome the decision at the Fifth CCW Review Conference to establish the Open-Ended GGE on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). We intend to take an active part in the November GGE meeting in Geneva.”
Lebanon (4 October) – “There’s also a need to determine the linkages with issues such as nuclear safety, autonomous lethal weapons, and the network systems through which drones operate. In this context, it is as well important to duly consider the ethical, legal, and humanitarian concerns raised by drones.”
Myanmar (10 October) – “In light of technology advancement, security issues that warrant our serious consideration include Prevention of an Arms race in Outer Space-PAROS, Cyber Security and Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems.”
Myanmar – II (20 October) – “We welcome the group of government experts on lethal autonomous weapon systems, established by the Fifth Review Conference.”
Netherlands (3 October) – “The international debate about the complicated subject of autonomous weapon systems is multifaceted. It is, however, crucial for future global security. We therefore regret the cancellation of the first meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts [on lethal autonomous weapons systems] under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. This debate should not suffer from more delays and therefore we call upon all stakeholders to actively participate in the upcoming GGE meeting in November this year.”
Netherlands – II (18 October) – “We welcome the establishment of a Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems as a next step in the ongoing deliberations on this topic. We regret that the first week of the GGE could not take place, due to a lack of funding. We hope, however, that the progress made during the three previous Expert Meetings will provide a good basis for structured discussions. The Netherlands will, as before, actively participate in the discussions and further contribute by submitting working papers.”
New Zealand (20 October) – “It is a matter of considerable regret that the late- and non-payment of assessed contributions under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) has constrained that body from holding the meetings agreed upon at the successful Review Conference last year. New Zealand looks forward to the meeting of the open-ended Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems taking place next month in Geneva and hopes that real progress can be made towards identifying and addressing the challenges that such systems pose for IHL.”
Norway (18 October) – “New and fast evolving technologies for conventional weapons may pose new dilemmas and raise a number of legal and ethical questions. For example, there are already discussions about lethal autonomous weapons systems, and in particular, about whether such weapons systems, once activated, will be able to select and engage targets without further human intervention. These questions will have to be pursued within the CCW. As new weapons technology continues to be developed, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that the basic rules and principles of international law are upheld.”.
Pakistan (10 October) – “Pakistan also supports the commencement of negotiations in the CD on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and Negative Security Assurances, as well as on contemporary issues such as chemical and biological terrorism, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), and cyber weapons.”
Pakistan – II (23 October) – “The development of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) has emerged as a major cause of concern for the international community. Any weapon system that delegates life and death decisions to machines, is by nature unethical, and cannot fully comply with international law including International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law. LAWS gravely threaten international and regional peace and security as they lower the threshold of war. They would also negatively affect progress on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament. Their likely proliferation to nonstate actors and terrorists adds another dangerous dimension to their existence. Developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence need to be appropriately tackled and regulated. They should not outpace the evolution of regulations governing them. In view of the illegal, unethical, inhumane and unaccountable nature of LAWS, Pakistan has consistently called for a pre-emptive prohibition on their further development and use. States currently developing such weapons should place an immediate moratorium on their production and meaningfully engage with the international community in addressing their concerns. Pakistan presided over thee Fifth CCW Review Conference held in Geneva in December 2016, which provided a useful opportunity to take stock of the Convention and resulted in a forward looking outcome document. Pakistan supported the establishment of an open-ended GGE related to emerging technologies in the area of LAWS in the context of the objectives and purposes of the Convention and looks forward to the detailed consideration of this issue by the GGE. At the same time, we remain open to addressing this issue in other relevant multilateral fora including the Conference on Disarmament.”
Philippines (3 October) – “In today’s world, new technologies are developed almost by the minute. It poses an immense challenge to the disarmament community when such technologies are weaponized. The UN must address these emerging challenges by developing new instruments and frameworks that encompass them and contain the threats they pose. We wish to cite in particular the important work of UNIDIR in disarmament education, especially on emerging security issues relating to autonomous weapons systems and cybersecurity.”
Portugal (9 October) – “On new and emerging threats, such as armed drones, autonomous weapons, cyberspace and militarization of outer space, we should encourage transparency and adapt applicable international law or develop new regulatory multilateral security frameworks responsive to the objective of protecting civilians and Human Rights.”
Russia (20 October) – “The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) is of great importance for the modern world that features a unique balanced account of both humanitarian concerns and legitimate defense interests of States. Russia fully implements its obligations under the CCW. We consistently call for strengthening and globalization of the CCW and its Protocols. We are satisfied with the outcome of the Fifth CCW Review Conference, which confirmed that the Convention remains an effective instrument of international law in the area of control on certain types of conventional weapons. Despite some radical calls, the realistic approach of the State Parties prevailed and it was reflected in the final documents. Any new arrangements within the framework of the CCW can be elaborated only through hard expert work on a balanced basis and provided that those will not undermine the time-tested core CCW provisions. Therefore, we are not rather enthusiastic with regard to the discussion on quite a premature topic of “lethal autonomous weapon systems” (LAWS). The work of the GGE on LAWS should be based on the principles of phased advancement without any attempts to accelerate the progress and definitely without attempts to impose preventive limitations or prohibitions on this type of prospective weapons and relevant technologies.” – Original statement in Russian.
Slovenia (10 October) – “Slovenia supports the efforts to universalise the Convention оп Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which remains one of the leading instruments in the field of conventional weapons. Slovenia supports the decision to debate and make steps forward related to the regulation of the emerging field of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LA WS) in the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), and looks forward to the meeting of the group in November.”
South Africa (20 October) – “South Africa reaffirms its commitment to the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention (CCW) and the humanitarian principles enshrined in the Convention. We attach great importance to this framework Convention evidenced in our ratification of all Protocols annexed to the Convention. South Africa welcomes the outcomes of the Fifth Review Conference of the CCW that took place in December 2016 particularly the decision to convene a Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention, and to establish an open-ended Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) to discuss emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). It is, however, a great concern that some CCW meetings for 2017 were unable to convene due to financial constraints. South Africa, therefore, encourages States that have not met their obligations with regard to assessed contributions to do so to ensure effective implementation and partiCipation in future meetings.”
South Korea (18 October) – “Third, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) has played an instrumental role in bringing together states with various legitimate security concerns by taking into account both principles of International Humanitarian Law and military necessity in a balanced manner. A total of 124 countries have joined the CCW and we welcome the recent accession of Lebanon and Afghanistan. The CCW, with its flexible modular and structure, has been able to address the humanitarian impact caused by conventional weapons, while keeping the discussion within the CCW framework. We welcome the establishment of the Open-ended Governmental Group of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS GGE) … The 5th Review conference of the CCW last year provided us with a truly important opportunity to take stock of our achievement and to set up the future work for the next five-year Review cycle. It was highly commendable to have adopted the final document by consensus. Without undermining these significant achievements, my delegation cannot neglect pointing out that the important meetings decided in the Review Conference have not been convened this year due to the poor financial situation of the CCW. We have to find a way to generate the financial capability in the operational process of the CCW as soon as possible.”
Switzerland (5 October) – “Technological developments are also presenting numerous challenges within the field of conventional weapons. This applies for example, to autonomous weapons systems. We regret the fact that the Group of Governmental Experts established by the CCW was not able to hold its first session this year because of financial arrears, and hope that the session planned for next month will enable progress to be made with this dossier. However, the challenges presented by the speed and the scale of technological developments are not limited to autonomous weapons systems. Advances in the areas of artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and within the field of nanotechnologies – to cite only three examples – also raise important questions for the disarmament community.” – Official translation
Switzerland (18 October) – “The 5th Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) was especially fruitful. It is now important to ensure progress is made with the implementation of the decisions taken at this event. The cancellation for financial reasons of the first session of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on lethal autonomous weapons systems is regrettable, but it should also prompt the High Contracting Parties to focus their discussions in November on concrete results. Two aspects should be given special attention: first, to reaffirm the applicability of international law as well as to spell out how international law provisions apply to autonomous weapons, and to define measures to strengthen and promote compliance. Second, to elaborate a working definition. It seems essential to us that the GGE bases its work on the outcome of the informal meetings and the key concepts identified during these meetings. The CCW meeting in November will discuss for the first time the challenges presented by scientific and technological advances. While such advances are generally beneficial for our societies, they can also lead to new means and methods of warfare. We welcome the fact that the CCW will discuss the need for dialogue on this subject.” – Official translation
United Kingdom (18 October) – “Just as the UK works hards to repair the legacy of past conflicts, we are ready and willing to discuss potential future challenges. The UK attaches great importance to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and underscores the importance of universalisation and full implementation of its restrictions I prohibitions to prevent further harm to civilians. The Convention plays a key role in bringing together states with differing national security needs and concerns and in balancing military necessity with humanitarian concerns. Hence, the CCW is the right forum to continue to respect and reinforce the principles of International Humanitarian Law. As Chair of the Convention this year, the UK will do its utmost to ensure a successful and forward leaning outcome at the meeting of High Contracting Parties in November. Turning now to Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. The UK believes that LAWS do not and may never exist and, under our definition, any such system would fall foul of IHL. However, we recognise the need for this discussion. The CCW has a crucial role to play in this regard, given its wealth of technical, military and diplomatic expertise. We support the mandate given by CCW to the GGE on LAWS and look forward to further discussions in November.”
United States (18 October) – “The United States is a High Contracting Party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and all of its Protocols. We view the CCW as an important instrument that has brought together States with diverse national security concerns. We are deeply disappointed that a lack of funding has prevented High Contracting Parties from convening all the meetings scheduled for 2017, pursuant to the decisions of the Fifth CCW Review Conference. in December 2016. In particular, we have lost the opportunity to continue our expert discussions on improvised explosive devices under CCW Amended Protocol ll, and had to reduce the length of the planned Group of Government Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems from 10 to 5 days. We encourage all High Contracting Parties to pay their share of the assessed costs in a timely fashion to ensure that we can continue this important work.”
European Union (18 October) – “The EU supports efforts to universalise and strengthen the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). We welcome the successful outcome of the Fifth Review Conference and look forward to further substantive work and discussions. The EU supported the decision at the Fifth Review Conference of the CCW to establish a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Regrettably, outstanding financial contributions by some States prevented the GGE from undertaking its task earlier this year. In our view, the GGE, in accordance with its mandate, should enable discussion on a range of issues including a working definition of LAWS, and the application of, and compliance with International Humanitarian Law, taking into account that such fully autonomous systems do not exist at the moment. Without prejudice to its outcome, the work in the GGE could pave the way for identifying possible best practices and policy guidelines.”
Non-Aligned Movement delivered by Indonesia (2 October) – “NAM is of the view that Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) raise a number of ethical, legal, moral and technical, as well as international peace and security related questions which should be thoroughly deliberated and examined in the context of conformity to international law including international humanitarian law and international human rights law. NAM States Parties to CCW support the establishment of an open-ended Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) related to emerging technologies in the area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems in the context of the objectives and purposes of the Convention. NAM States Parties to CCW welcome Pakistan’s leadership as president of the fifth Review Conference of the Convention held in December 2016 in Geneva.”
Nordic Countries delivered by Norway (2 October) – “New and rapidly evolving technologies, also in the military sphere, will have an impact on human and collective security. One aspect that merits further consideration relates to human control over new weapons. We look forward to substantive discussions on challenges in this context, including lethal autonomous weapons systems, at the upcoming Group of Government Experts in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.”
Nordic Countries delivered by Finland (18 October) – “We also remain strongly committed to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its Protocols. We are very pleased that a Group of Governmental Experts on lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems will begin its work next month under the able chairmanship of India. The Nordic countries believe that humans should always bear the ultimate responsibility when dealing with questions of life and death. We urge all States to use the GGE as an opportunity to engage in a concrete dialogue on the obligations we all face when assessing the use of new weapons, means and methods of warfare.”
International Committee of the Red Cross (10 October) – “It is undisputed that any new technology of warfare must be capable of being used, and must be used, in strict compliance with IHL. However, the challenges for IHL compliance raised by autonomous weapon systems and cyber capabilities — and more fundamentally their profound implications for the future of warfare — lend urgency to international debates on these new means of warfare in particular. In the last three years, CCW expert meetings on “lethal” autonomous weapon systems have identified many of the humanitarian, legal and ethical issues raised by these weapons. Discussions in the CCW have shown broad agreement among States that human control must be retained over weapon systems and the use of force. Indeed, the framework of human control provides a necessary baseline from which common understandings can be developed among States. The forthcoming CCW Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems chaired by India presents the opportunity to consider in more depth where the limits on autonomy in weapon systems must be established to ensure IHL compliance and to satisfy ethical concerns. The ICRC urges all States to seize this opportunity.”
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (10 October) – “We call on states to pursue a revised mandate at the CCW’s annual meeting on 22–24 November 2017 that continues the Group of Governmental Experts and requires that it meet for at least four weeks in 2018 to lay the groundwork necessary to negotiate a new CCW protocol on lethal autonomous weapons systems. The window for preventative action is fast closing. The CCW process on lethal autonomous weapon systems could and should result in a new CCW protocol banning these weapons, but it should not take many years to do so. A long, drawn-out process that achieves a weak or no result must be avoided. Permitting machines to take a human life on the battlefield or in policing, border control, and other circumstances is a moral line that should never be crossed. We state ready to work with states who share this concern and our objective of securing a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons now, before it is too late.” – Extract
For more information, see:
- Campaign to Stop Killer Robots statement, side event flyer, and briefing book chapter for 72nd session of UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security;
- WILPF Reaching Critical Will’s web page for the 72nd UNGA First Committee, including briefing book, statements and schedule of side events.