Global progress towards a treaty on autonomous weapons
70 states deliver joint statement on autonomous weapons systems at UN General Assembly
For the first time at the United Nations General Assembly, states across the world united in delivering a joint statement on autonomous weapons systems. With a total of 70 states joining, this was the largest cross-regional group statement ever made throughout UN discussions on the issue. The statement, delivered on behalf of the group by Amb. Alexander Kmentt, Director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Nonproliferation Department at the Austrian MFA, consolidates key elements of the international response that is urgently needed. It included:
– Recognition that autonomous weapons systems raise serious concerns from humanitarian, legal, security, technological and ethical perspectives.
– Acknowledgement of the need to maintain human responsibility and accountability in the use of force.
– Emphasis on the need for internationally agreed rules and limits – including a combination of prohibitions and regulations on autonomous weapons systems.
Stop Killer Robots sees the collective action taken by states as providing an important building block towards a legally binding treaty on autonomous weapons systems.
Boston Dynamics: An Open Letter to the Robotics Industry and our Communities, General Purpose Robots Should Not Be Weaponized
Boston Dynamics, along with several other robotics companies, published an open letter in which they pledged that ‘we will not weaponize our advanced-mobility general-purpose robots or the software we develop that enables advanced robotics and we will not support others to do so.’ This pledge appears to apply only to ‘advanced mobility general-purpose robots and related software’; it does not rule out future cooperation or collaboration with militaries or the defence sector. Boston Dynamics was acquired by Hyundai last year, who are currently working on developing numerous weaponised technologies with autonomous capabilities through its Hyundai Rotem subsidiary.
UN Human Rights Council passes resolution on human rights issues relating to emerging military technologies
The Human Rights Council passed a resolution authored by Austria, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay on human rights issues relating to emerging technologies in the military domain.
ICRC calls on states to take steps towards treaty negotiations on autonomous weapons
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published its statement following the recent Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) meeting on autonomous weapons systems, writing that “the GGE’s conclusions do not reflect the seriousness of the issue and the urgent need for an international response. They neither acknowledge the specific challenges posed by autonomous weapons nor do they offer direction on effective measures to address them.”
Russia leads an assault on progress at UN discussions, CCW proves itself as failed forum
The final meeting of 2022 of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) resulted in a damning failure to make progress, despite a number of detailed proposals from States calling for a new international framework. After 5 days of discussions, from 25-29th July, the outcome report contained no prohibitions, regulations, or other measures to deal with the serious challenges presented by autonomous weapons systems.
Group of 10 states propose roadmap towards new CCW protocol on autonomous weapons
At the July Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) meeting at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), a group of ten states including Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, State of Palestine and Uruguay submitted a roadmap proposal towards a legally binding instrument that would require counties to regulate autonomous weapons systems to ensure “meaningful human control is retained” in their entire lifecycle.
Stop Killer Robots launches Parliamentary Pledge
The Stop Killer Robots campaign enouraged parliamentarians around the world to take action against autonomous weapons systems and begin negotiations for new international law on autonomous weapons systems by joining the Stop Killer Robots Parliamentary Pledge. The Parliamentary Pledge is open to any member of parliament or congress, in any part of the world, who wishes to reject the automation of killing, ensure meaningful human control over the use of force and help promote a more peaceful world now and for generations to come.
Virtual UN discussions on autonomous weapons continued ahead of July GGE
Virtual discussions hosted by the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) Chair were the second in a series of three intersessional meetings between the GGE meeting on autonomous weapons from 7-11th March 2022 and the forthcoming GGE taking place from 25-29th July 2022, and focused on human control, human-machine interaction, ethical considerations; and responsibility and accountability in the development and use of autonomous weapons systems.
Stop Killer Robots premieres “Immoral Code” documentary
Immoral Code is a documentary that contemplates the impact of killer robots in an increasingly automated world – one where machines make decisions over who to kill or what to destroy. The film examines whether there are situations where it’s morally and socially acceptable to take life, and importantly – would a computer know the difference?
Swarm of drones autonomously track a human through dense forest in China
Researchers at China’s Zhejiang University have released a paper on, and a video of, a drone swarm ‘capable of navigating through a dense bamboo forest without human guidance,’ in the first time a swarm of drones successfully flew outside in an unstructured environment.
European Parliament calls on European Council to adopt joint position on autonomous weapons systems
The European Parliament adopted the final recommendations of its Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA) which included a recommendation for the European Council “to adopt a joint position on autonomous weapons systems that ensures meaningful human control over their critical function; insist on the launch of international negotiations on a legally binding instrument that would prohibit fully autonomous weapons systems; states that such an international agreement should determine that all lethal AI weapons must be subject to meaningful human oversight and control, meaning that human beings remain in the loop, and are therefore ultimately responsible for the decision to select a target and take lethal action”.
“As conflict changes, so do the dangers for children” says UNICEF
A UNICEF article noted … “there is always a risk that military personnel operating armed drones could cause civilian casualties, including children… This year will likely continue to see an international push to regulate autonomous weapon systems: 100 countries have called for meaningful human control of such use of force, and 31 have called for a complete ban”.
World Council of Churches releases church campaign guide in six languages
Originally released in English in December 2021, the guide designed to introduce churches to the issue of killer robots and to help raise awareness was translated into French, German, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese.
Autonomous Weapon Systems reportedly used in Ukraine
The KUB-BLA (also known as the KYB-UAV) system was reportedly used by Russia in Ukraine. The KUB-BLA is a ‘loitering munition’ – effectively a small drone that can search for and then explode into an intended target. The munition can be directed to a target by an operator by video link or (it is reported) by an onboard ‘target guidance system’. In the latter configuration, it would be functioning as an autonomous weapon if it was attacking a target based on sensor inputs matching a target profile, without human approval.
First GGE meeting on autonomous weapons of 2022 ends in deadlock
Discussions at the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems from 7-11th March remained mired in procedural deadlock, even after the 6th Review Conference in December 2021 failed to achieve a substantive outcome commensurate with the urgency of the issue of autonomy in weapons systems. Despite Russia’s block on progress, other States indicated a way forward by proposing a legally binding instrument.
Japanese study reveals people do not trust AI weapons
A study in Japan by researchers at the University of Tokyo investigated public attitudes towards the ethics of AI used in four different scenarios: AI-generated art; customer service AI; autonomous weapons; and crime prediction. Their findings revealed that participants perceived AI in weapons systems with far more scepticism than the other three scenarios.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities raises autonomous weapons
For the first time, a Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities recognized autonomous weapons as a threat to the rights of persons with disabilities, demonstrating concerns on the “ability of weaponry directed by artificial intelligence to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants, and make the nuanced determination as to whether an assistive device qualifies a person with disabilities as a threat.”
Sixth CCW Review Conference misses opportunity to act
A historic opportunity to develop a mandate to regulate autonomous weapons was blocked by a handful of states, including the US and Russia. However, a majority of states pushed for an international treaty to be developed, showing the momentum and hope for the start of treaty negotiations in 2022 as political leadership emerges.
Petition to negotiate new international law on autonomous weapons garners thousands of signatures
A petition to develop new international law for autonomous weapons was presented by Stop Killer Robots and Amnesty International to the President of the CCW Review Conference. The petition, signed by thousands of individuals around the world, called for the end of digital dehumanisation and meaningful human control over weapons systems.
GGE pushes decisions to critical Review Conference
Despite the calls from a majority of states, the final GGE meeting of 2021 was unable to agree on a mandate for future work. The last day of the meeting saw substantive report content stripped and a small group of states using consensus rules to block any progress towards regulation. The final report of the GGE made no recommendations, passing decisions on to the 6th Review Conference of the CCW.
World Council of Churches reaffirms the need for international law surrounding autonomous weapons
In support of the coalition to Stop Killer Robots, the World Council of Churches hosted a webcast which marked the launching of a guide for churches concerned by killer robots.
Dutch government advised to publicly speak out in favour of a treaty on autonomous weapons
Two advisory bodies to the Dutch government advised that the Netherlands must speak out clearly in favour of a prohibition on fully autonomous weapons that can attack without human intervention and regulation of other semi-autonomous weapons.
New Zealand announces it will push for a treaty on autonomous weapons
New Zealand views autonomous weapons as “abhorrent and inconsistent with New Zealand’s interests and values” and has announced it will push for a legal treaty on autonomous weapons, seeking to make progress by “building and working with a coalition of states, experts and others” to support this goal.
Open letter to German government from AI researchers
In an open letter, Germany’s leading AI researchers voiced their concerns on weaponized AI that operates without meaningful human control. The letter urges German politicians to work towards an international treaty on autonomous weapons.
Killer robots at UN General Assembly
In a statement to the UN First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, Stop Killer Robots urged states to unite in the spirit of cooperation and solidarity and agree to begin negotiations on a treaty to address risks of autonomy in weapons at the sixth RevCon of the CCW. Stop Killer Robots also delivered a joint civil society statement on Race and Intersectionality in Humanitarian Disarmament, arguing that an anti-racist, intersectional perspective to humanitarian disarmament is fundamental for centering human security and peace.
Second diplomatic meeting of 2021
The GGE held its second meeting of 2021, where there was growing momentum to form a treaty on autonomous weapons.
Austria offers bold support for killer robots treaty
Austria hosted “Safeguarding Human Control Over Autonomous Weapons Systems”, a conference that focused on the legal, ethical, and security concerns of increased autonomy in weapons. Speakers in the conference including Austria’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg; New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament, Phil Twyford; and ICRC Vice-President Gilles Carbonnier strongly called for a legally binding treaty on autonomous weapons.
UN calls for moratorium on AI that threatens human rights
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a moratorium on the sale and use of AI that threatens human rights, until laws can be established that protect human rights. The call comes alongside the release of a report outlining the dangers of AI – including profiling, automated decision-making and other machine-learning technologies – if not used responsibly.
First GGE LAWS Meeting of 2021
At the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems first meeting of 2021, 55 states gathered for intense and focused discussions on key elements of a potential new framework on autonomous weapons, with many calling for the negotiation of new international law.
Rightscon discusses digital dehumanisation
For the second time, Stop Killer Robots hosted an event at RightsCon where panelists discussed how autonomous weapons and emerging technologies can exacerbate existing social inequalities, harm and oppression.
UN report of killer robot use in Libya
For the first time, a UN report has noted the use of autonomous weapons. The report referenced the use of the STM Kargu-2 and other loitering munitions in Libya, writing “The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true “fire, forget and find” capability.”
New Zealand's Minister for Disarmament commits to legally-binding instrument
New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control committed New Zealand to building an alliance of countries working towards an international and legally-binding instrument to prohibit and regulate autonomous weapons systems.
ICRC calls for new legal rules to address autonomy in weapon systems
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published an updated position on autonomous weapon systems, noting that they are “…convinced that international limits should take the form of new legally binding rules to regulate autonomous weapons.” The position called for new legal rules including prohibitions and regulation to address the moral and legal concerns of autonomy in weapons systems and to ensure human control.
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots 3rd annual global meeting
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots held its third annual global meeting.
Costa Rica Ministry of Foreign Affairs launches national campaign
Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched the national campaign “For a country free of autonomous weapons: technology at the service of peace” and committed to working for a legally binding instrument to prohibit fully autonomous weapons systems and retain meaningful human control over the use of force.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopts first Resolution on AI technologies
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a quasi-judicial body of the African Union entrusted by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State with protection of human rights in Africa, adopted and published Resolution 473 on AI technologies. It is the first Resolution on AI technologies to be adopted by a regional body of the African Union, and appeals to States Parties to ensure that emerging technologies “remain under meaningful human control.”
Austrian parliament adopts motion on the topic of lethal autonomous weapons
Austrian parliament considered and adopted a motion on the topic of lethal autonomous weapons. The motion requested the Austrian federal government continue multilateral engagement, advocate for a ban of autonomous weapon systems in international law and consistently drive forward an international process, and advocate on the European and international level for strengthening initiatives to effectively counter challenges that artificial intelligence poses to human rights, rule of law, and democracy, particularly in areas of peacekeeping and disarmament.
Soka Gakkai International, World Council of Churches, and Pax Christi launch interfaith statement on killer robots
Soka Gakkai International, the World Council of Churches and Pax Christi issued a joint inter-faith statement on autonomous weapons, firmly rejecting the development of killer robots and supporting the work of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
Scottish National Party submits bill supporting ban on autonomous weapons
The Scottish National Party (SNP) in the UK submitted a bill to the House of Commons calling upon the government to support a ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS).
First global youth conference on killer robots
The International Student Conference (ISC), with the support of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, organised the first Virtual Global Youth Conference on Fully Autonomous Weapons. Youth representatives from over 20 countries gathered in a dialogue with representatives from the Japanese government and the United Nations to call upon the government of Japan to adopt a firm stance against killer robots.
Special Rapporteur on Racism warns on killer robots
In a report to the 75th session of the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, E. Tendayi Achiume, found crucial need for States to “account for and combat the disproportionate racial, ethnic and national origin impacts that fully autonomous weapons would have on vulnerable groups, especially refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and related groups.” The report referenced a submission on racism and killer robots made by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
Belgian federal government pledges new initiative for a regulatory framework on autonomous weapons
Following its election, the new Belgian federal government, pledged Belgium “will take the initiative to arrive at a regulatory framework on fully autonomous weapons systems, with a view to an international prohibition.”
Pope Francis addresses autonomous weapons
Pope Francis’ address to the UN General Assembly marks the first time the Pope has directly commented on fully autonomous weapons. In his address, the Pope stated “lethal autonomous weapons…irreversibly alter the nature of warfare, detaching it further from human agency,” and calls on states to “break with the present climate of distrust” that is leading to “an erosion of multilateralism, which is all the more serious in light of the development of new forms of military technology.”
“The impending age of killer robots? How our data fuels autonomous weapons, and why it’s not too late to stop them”
For the first time, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots participated in RightsCon, the preeminent annual gathering of activists and others working for human rights in the digital age. The Campaign hosted a virtual event where panelists focused on how data is being used to fuel the development of autonomous weapons, and how it is not too late to reverse this trend.
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots wins Ypres Peace Prize
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is awarded the Peace Prize of the City of Ypres. 90% of those who voted for the Prize were younger than 18 years old.
Ethical committee of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund recommends adding autonomous weapons to list of proscribed weapons
The ethical committee of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global recommended “lethal autonomous weapons be added to the list of proscribed weapons”, thereby setting a precedent for not investing in companies involved in the production or development of lethal autonomous weapons. The report highlights “it is fundamentally problematic that the critical decisions relating to the use of force are not subject to meaningful human control.”
German MFA hosts Berlin Forum on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems
Germany’s Foreign Ministry hosts the online Berlin Forum on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems on 1-2 April. In opening the Berlin Forum, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that lethal autonomous weapons systems are “a red line we should never cross” because “letting machines decide over life and death of human beings goes against ethical standards and undermines human dignity.”
Parliamentarians for Global Action launches Global Parliamentary Campaign
Parliamentarians for Global Action launches a Global Parliamentary Campaign in support of the negotiation of a treaty prohibiting fully autonomous weapons, and calls on all Parliamentarians worldwide to sign the PGA Global Parliamentary Declaration in Support of the Negotiation of a Treaty Prohibiting Fully Autonomous Weapons.
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots goes to Buenos Aires
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots held its second global meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Brazilian MFA hosts Rio Symposium on autonomous weapons
Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the Rio Symposium on Autonomous Weapons Systems on 19-20 February 2020.
Annual CCW meeting agrees to continue talks
At the annual CCW meeting on 13-15 November, states agreed to continue the formal deliberations of the Group of Government Experts for ten days in 2020 under chair Mr. Jānis Kārkliņš of Latvia.
Namibia joins the list of states calling for a ban on killer robots
During the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York in October 2019, Namibia added its name to the list of states that are seeking to prohibit fully autonomous weapons.
At 8th CCW meeting on killer robots, Jordan calls for a treaty
During the second session of the 2019 CCW Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) on 21-22 August, Jordan added their name to the list of states that are seeking to prohibit fully autonomous weapons. This meeting, chaired by Ljupco Jivan Gjorgjinski of North Macedonia, marked the eighth CCW meeting on autonomous weapons.
OSCE urges support to negotiate legally-binding rules on autonomous weapons
Parliamentarians from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) concluded their annual session by adopting a 19-page declaration that urges participating states to support negotiations on legally binding rules on lethal autonomous weapons.
7th CCW meeting at the UN
Ljupco Jivan Gjorgjinski of North Macedonia chaired the seventh Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems on 25-29 March at UN Geneva.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots holds first global meeting in Berlin
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots hosted a public event in Berlin, Germany, in addition to a global meeting of the campaign.
Ipsos releases 2nd poll on autonomous weapons
Ipsos released a second poll conducted in 26 countries showing that more than three in five people responding oppose the development and use of fully autonomous weapons.
Annual CCW meeting agrees on limited meeting days in 2019
At the annual CCW meeting on 21-23 November, states agreed to continue the formal deliberations of the Group of Governmental Experts in 2019 under chair Mr. Ljupco Jivan Gjorgjinski of the North Macedonia, but scheduled a mere seven days of meetings. El Salvador and Morocco add their names to the list of states that are seeking to prohibit fully autonomous weapons.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls for a ban on killer robots
At the Paris Peace Forum in 2018, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres called for a ban on killer robots, stating, “For me there is a message that is very clear – machines that have the power and the discretion to take human lives are politically unacceptable, are morally repugnant, and should be banned by international law.”
Austria, Brazil & Chile recommend new CCW negotiation mandate
Ambassador Gill chaired the sixth CCW meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems. Austria, Brazil and Chile recommended a new CCW mandate “to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to ensure meaningful human control over the critical functions” of weapons systems. Despite a majority of states calling for a legally-binding instrument, and many calling for a political declaration, the GGE recommended continuing with their current mandate of exploring “options” for future work.
Tech companies sign a pledge at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence
More than 200 technology companies and organizations from more than 36 countries and 2,600 individual signed on to a pledge released by the Future of Life Institute at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm, committing to “neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons.”
European Parliament calls for negotiations of a ban of autonomous weapons
The European Parliament adopted a resolution that calls for the urgent negotiation of “an international ban on weapon systems that lack human control over the use of force.” The resolution called on the European Council to work towards such a ban and “urgently develop and adopt a common position on autonomous weapon systems.”
Belgian government to support efforts to prohibit use of autonomous weapons
The Belgian Parliamentary Defence Committee approved a resolution calling for the Belgian government to support international efforts to prohibit the use of fully autonomous weapons and ensure that the Belgian army will never use them.
Google pledges not to develop AI for use in weapons
Google published a set of ethical principles that included a pledge from the company to not develop artificial intelligence for use in weapons. Days earlier, it was revealed that the company would end its participation in Project Maven after the contract expired.
UK House of Lords AI committee recommends UK government amend definition of autonomous weapons
A House of Lords committee on artificial intelligence report recommended the UK government amend its far-fetched definition of fully autonomous weapons systems and bring it into line with other countries.
5th CCW meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS)
Ambassador Gill of India chaired the fifth CCW meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems. Austria, China, Colombia, and Djibouti joined the growing list of countries calling for a ban on fully autonomous weapons, bringing the total to 26.
KAIST responds to boycott call from AI experts
After artificial intelligence experts issued a letter calling for a boycott of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), the university issued a statement clarifying that it “does not have any intention to engage in development of lethal autonomous weapons systems.”
African Union holds seminar on killer robots
The African Union and African states held a seminar in Geneva to consider greater regional collaboration to address concerns over fully autonomous weapons.
Letter to Google to endorse the call for a ban on autonomous weapons
In a letter, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots invited Google to endorse the call to ban fully autonomous weapons and answered concerns over its participation in a controversial Pentagon-funded Project Maven to autonomously process video footage shot by US surveillance drones.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ letter on Korea’s new Research center
In a letter to the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kang Kyung-Wha, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots urged the government to support the call to ban fully autonomous weapons and address concerns raised by a new “Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence” opened by KAIST and defense manufacturer Hanwha Systems Co., Ltd.
Mary Wareham's address at the Munich Security Conference
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots coordinator Mary Wareham addressed a panel at the Munich Security Conference on artificial intelligence and modern conflict.
Open letter from the Belgian scientific community
A total of 116 scientists working in fields including artificial intelligence, robotics and computer science issued an open letter calling on Belgium to support a ban on weapon systems lacking meaningful human control over the critical functions of targeting and engagement in every attack.
First meeting of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts
Ambassador Amandeep Singh Gill of India chaired the first meeting of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts. At the annual CCW meeting on 24 November, states agreed to continue the formal deliberations under the current chair and scheduled two week-long meetings of the Group of Governmental Experts in 2018.
Members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots at the WIRED Live conference
Noel Sharkey and other members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots spoke on a panel on lethal autonomous weapons at a WIRED Live conference in London. Machine learning company DeepMind’s co-founder Mustafa Suleyman introduced the panel and affirmed his company’s support of the call to ban these weapons systems.
Open letter from the Canadian AI community to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
More than 200 Canadians working in the field of artificial intelligence, including AI pioneers Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio, issued an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, demanding Canada support the call to ban lethal autonomous weapons systems and commit to working with other states to conclude a new international agreement that achieves this objective.
Open letter from the Australian AI community to Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull
More than 120 members of the Australian AI research community wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to demand that Australia endorse the call to ban lethal autonomous weapons systems and work to conclude a new international agreement that achieves this objective.
The Permanent Mission of Mexico and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ briefing for UNGA First Committee delegates.
The Permanent Mission of Mexico and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots convened a side event briefing for UNGA First Committee delegates. Other 2017 UNGA First Committee side events hosted by Kazakhstan on 4 October, UNIDIR on 5 October, and Germany on 25 October also covered concerns related to killer robots. During the 72nd session of the UNGA First Committee, at least 34 states and three regional groups raised the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems in their statements.
Open letter from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to CCW delegates
At an informal briefing convened by Germany, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots communicated to states that it is beyond disappointed by the current state of the CCW process and distributed an open letter from AI and robotics founders to CCW delegates.
Mary Wareham at ICRC meeting on autonomous weapons
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots coordinator Mary Wareham spoke at an ICRC meeting on the ethics of autonomous weapons systems.
Open letter at Melbourne’s International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence
During the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Melbourne, Professor Toby Walsh released an open letter demanding a stronger response to concerns over killer robots signed by founders and directors of more than 100 AI and robotics companies.
The Swiss government’s position on seeking a preemptive ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems
The Swiss government declined to support two parliamentary motions proposing that Switzerland seeking a preemptive ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems. Swiss former President and then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Burkhalter expressed support for the principle but questioned the need to take action. The next day, Burkhalter announced his retirement from politics.
Under-Secretary-General High Representative for Disarmament Affairs’ first public remarks on autonomous weapons
The Under-Secretary-General High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, made her first public remarks on autonomous weapons during an address to a high-level summit held in Geneva on “Artificial Intelligence for Good.” She explained that states must discuss a range of issues relating to the weapons, particularly “what they consider to be the acceptable degree of human control over the lethal functions of a weapon system, and whether a specific international treaty or instrument is required to ensure that control is maintained.” Campaign co-founder Amnesty International’s secretary-general Salil Shetty reiterated the urgent need for a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons.
UN Meeting of Campaign representatives and diplomats on ethical concerned over autonomous weapons
Representatives from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots joined diplomats for an informal meeting to discuss ethical concerns over lethal autonomous weapons systems convened at the UN by the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva in conjunction with the Caritas in Veritate Foundation.
Cancellation of first GGE meeting
CCW president-designate Ambassador Matthew Rowland of the UK announced that the first meeting of the newly established Group of Governmental Experts scheduled for 21-25 August had been cancelled due to a lack of funds.
The UN Secretary Generals’ letter to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots on autonomous weapons
The new Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, informed the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots by letter of the UN’s shared concern at “the prospect of weapons systems that can autonomously select and engage targets.”
Norwegian Labor Party’s commitment on disarmament and autonomous weapons
The Norwegian Labor Party adopted an electoral programme that commits it, if elected, to “bring international weapons control and disarmament work forward and taking necessary initiatives to regulate the development and use of fully and semi-autonomous weapon systems.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary's support for preemptive ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua, reaffirmed the government’s support for the goal of a preemptive ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems in a letter to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
States establish a Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapons
At the Fifth Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, states established a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) to formalize the process on lethal autonomous weapons and meet for two weeks in 2017. The group of nations endorsing the call to ban these weapons expanded to 19 with the additions of Argentina, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. China for the first time called for new international law on killer robots, providing the precedent of the CCW protocol banning blinding lasers.
36 states express killer robots concerns at UNGA First Committee
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots held a side event briefing for UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security delegates with President of the CCW’s Fifth Review Conference Pakistani Ambassador Tehmina Janjua, AI expert Professor Stuart Russell, and Human Rights Watch Arms Division Director Steve Goose. During the 71st session of the UNGA First Committee, at least 36 states expressed support for the efforts to address concerns over lethal autonomous weapons systems.
World Business Council for Peace conference on inhumane weapons
Kanae Doe of Human Rights Watch spoke at the World Business Council for Peace conference on inhumane weapons and killer robots.
Conference hosted by diplomatic academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots Coordinator, Mary Wareham, spoke on a panel on lethal autonomous weapons systems at a conference on emerging technologies held by the PIR Center and diplomatic academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
First publicly-available dataset tracking military autonomy published
Heather M. Roff of Arizona State University published the first publicly-available dataset tracking military autonomy, which identified 284 weapons systems with autonomous features.
SIPRI and IEEE workshop on societal impact of autonomous weapons
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) & Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) hosted a workshop on autonomous systems and their societal impact.
States set objective to establish Group of Governmental Experts
More than 30 states reaffirmed the objective of establishing a Group of Governmental Experts at the Preparatory Meeting for the CCW’s Fifth Review Conference. Only one state expressed reluctance.
Buzzfeed features autonomous weapons and Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
Buzzfeed published an 8,000-word long-form article by Sarah Topal on autonomous weapons, providing an unprecedented profile of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the diplomatic process, and the state of development of autonomous weapons.
New calls for killer robots ban from five states at third CCW informal experts meeting
German Ambassador Michael Biontino chaired the third Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) informal meeting of experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems. Algeria, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Nicaragua were added to the list of states calling for a ban.
German Foreign Office convenes workshop on defining autonomy
The German Foreign Office and SWP (German Institute for International and Security Affairs) convened a workshop in Berlin on defining autonomy and autonomous weapons.
ICRC convenes second meeting of experts
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convened a second experts meeting on autonomous weapons systems.
Norwegian Government Pension Fund begins monitoring companies investing in autonomous weapons
The ethics council of the $830 billion Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global announced that it intended to begin monitoring companies investing in the potential development of fully autonomous weapons systems and see if such investments would be contrary to the fund’s investment policies and ethical guidelines. Council chair Johan H. Andreson described the initiative as “a statement of fair warning, a heads-up.”
Report by two UN Special Rapporteurs recommends prohibition of autonomous weapons without meaningful human control
A report for the Human Rights Council on the proper management of assemblies by two Special Rapporteurs recommended: “Autonomous weapons systems that require no meaningful human control should be prohibited.” This enhanced a moratorium call first issued by one of the Special Rapporteurs in 2013 report.
World Economic Forum hold “What if: Robots go to war?" panel in Davos
The World Economic Forum and TIME convened a panel of disarmament, weapons, and robotics experts to consider “What if: Robots go to war?” in Davos, Switzerland. Killer robots were first raised at the World Economic Forum during a 2015 panel on technology, “A Brave New World”.
Nations agree to third CCW meeting on autonomous weapons, while civil society is denied access to talks
Nations agreed to hold a third meeting in 2016 to continue deliberations on lethal autonomous weapons systems at the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). Campaigners from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots were denied access to an informal consultation after the United Kingdom objected, breaking a 20 year practice of NGO participation in such sessions. During the meeting, Iraq, Nicaragua, Kazakhstan, and Zimbabwe articulated their views on killer robots for the first time.
30+ governments raise autonomous weapons at UNGA First Committee
At the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York, 32 governments and five groups of states raised concerns about autonomous weapons, including Botswana, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Romania for the first time. AI letter signatory Professor Toby Walsh addressed a Campaign to Stop Killer Robots side event held with Costa Rica on 20 October.
Open letter calling for ban on autonomous weapons gains more than 15,000 endorsements
More than 1,000 artificial intelligence and robotics researchers and 15,000 other endorsers signed a Future of Life open letter calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.
Second CCW meeting on autonomous weapons held in Geneva
Representatives from 90 nations, UN agencies, the ICRC, and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots attended the second Convention on Conventional Weapons meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems, chaired by Ambassador Michael Biontino of Germany.
Canadian Red Cross and Carleton University co-host event on future of weaponry
Canadian Red Cross and Carleton University held an event in Ottawa on “‘Killer Robots: The Future of Weaponry and IHL.”
Debate on autonomous weapons at AAAI annual conference
Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch and Prof. Ron Arkin of Georgia Tech debated on autonomous weapons at the annual Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference in Austin, TX.
Technical experts issue open letter on the future of artificial intelligence
After the first conference held by the Future of Life Institute on the “future of artificial intelligence” in Puerto Rico on Jan. 2-4, prominent scientists and researchers from industry and academia issued an open letter calling for AI and smart machine research that is “robust and beneficial” to humanity, linking to a document outlining “research directions that can help maximize the societal benefit of AI,” including numerous questions on ‘lethal autonomous weapons systems.’ In response, on January 14, Elon Musk announced a $10 million donation to implement the research call.
The Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace Laureates issue declaration urging prevention of killer robots
The Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace Laureates issued a declaration that reads, “we support the call for a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons (killer robots) – weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without human intervention,” and urges, “we must prevent this new form of inhumane warfare.”
States agree to hold second CCW meeting on autonomous weapons
States agreed to hold a second Convention on Conventional Weapons meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems in 2015. Colombia and Palestine also spoke on the matter for the first time.
Faith leaders endorse call to action
More than 70 faith leaders of various denominations, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, endorsed an interfaith call to action against fully autonomous weapons.
23 governments raise killer robots at UNGA First Committee
During the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York, 23 governments included killer robots in their remarks, including Bulgaria and Finland for the first time. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots also saw strong turnout at its side event hosted with Croatia on 21 October, which featured Ryan Garipy of Clearpath Robotics.
ClearPath Robotics pledges support for a ban on killer robots
ClearPath Robotics of Kitchener, Canada issued a statement pledging its support for the call for a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons. The company stated it will continue to work with its military clients, but “vouched to not manufacture weaponized robots that remove humans from the loop” as it “has chosen to value our ethics over potential future revenue.”
First multilateral meeting on “lethal autonomous weapons systems” at the UN
Representatives from 87 nations, UN agencies, the ICRC, and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots participated in the first multilateral meeting on “lethal autonomous weapons systems” at the UN in Geneva. Convened under the auspices of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), the informal meeting featured presentations by 18 experts on technical, ethical, legal, and operational questions raised by the weapons. Czech Republic, Guatemala, Mali, and Norway also spoke for the first time on the matter at the meeting.
Nobel Peace Laureates issue a joint call for a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons
Jody Williams (1997) and 20 other Nobel Peace Laureates issued a joint call for a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons. Signatories include Mairead Maguire (1976), Betty Williams (1976), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Shirin Ebadi (2003), Leymah Gbowee (2011), and Tawakkol Karman (2011), who together with Williams are members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
First ICRC experts meeting on autonomous weapons systems
The International Committee of the Red Cross convened its first experts meeting on autonomous weapons systems, which was attended by 21 states and members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
Campaigners brief UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters
Campaigners briefed the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters on the emerging international concern over killer robots.
European Parliament adopts its first resolution calling for a ban on killer robots
By a vote of 534–49, the European Parliament adopted its first resolution calling for a ban on “development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention.”
PAX launches first report on killer robots
At a Strategy Meeting of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots in London, PAX (formerly IKV Pax Christi) launched a brief animation film and its first report on killer robots.
First Chatham House conference on autonomous weapons
Chatham House hosted its first conference on autonomous military technologies, featuring Steve Goose, of Human Rights Watch; Noel Sharkey, of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control; and Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams as panelists.
US Naval War College convenes workshop on "legal implications" of killer robots
The US Naval War College held a workshop on “legal implications of autonomous weapons systems” attended by armed forces representatives from the US, Australia, Canada, Israel, and UK.
Experts meeting on armed drones and robots
The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights hosted an experts meeting on armed drones and robots in Divonne, Switzerland.
Debate at Geneva Academy
ICRAC’s Dr. Peter Asaro and Professor Matt Waxman of the Lawfare Blog debated the topic of autonomous weapons at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
CCW adopts mandate to address killer robots
States Parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons agreed to a mandate to begin work in 2014 on the emerging technology of “lethal autonomous weapons systems.”
Nobel Laureate briefs Italian parliamentarians
Nobel Laureate Jody Williams briefed Italy’s Foreign Minister and leading parliamentarians in Rome.
15 new countries express views on autonomous weapons
At the the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva, 35 nations expressed their views on autonomous weapons systems, including 15 nations for the first time: Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Ghana, Holy See, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Madagascar, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine. A Campaign to Stop Killer Robots side event on Nov. 13 attracted 120 delegates from dozens of countries.
16 governments share views on killer robots
During the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York, 16 governments articulated their views on killer robots in their statements, including for the first time Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, India, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa. There was strong turnout for two consecutive side events on autonomous weapons: a UNIDIR briefing by Professor Christof Heyns and a Campaign to Stop Killer Robots briefing held with Switzerland on 21 October.
Debate in Berlin
Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division Director, Steve Goose, debated Georgia Tech Professor Ron Arkin at a Zebis (Zentrum für ethische Bildung in den Streitkräften) event in Berlin on autonomous weapons.
France and UNODA convene seminar
More than 20 countries attended a seminar on fully autonomous weapons systems convened by France and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs at the UN in Geneva.
ICRC issues “new technologies” edition of its quarterly journal
The International Committee of the Red Cross issued a “new technologies” edition of its quarterly journal, International Review of the Red Cross, that featured discussion of fully autonomous weapons.
University of Massachusetts releases survey on autonomous weapons
A University of Massachusetts survey of 1,000 Americans found that a majority of respondents oppose fully autonomous weapons and support actions to campaign against them.
First UK parliament debate on killer robots
The UK parliament held its first-ever adjournment debate on lethal autonomous robots.
First Human Rights Council debate on lethal autonomous robots
During the first Human Rights Council debate on killer robots, Professor Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions,
presented his report calling for a global moratorium on lethal autonomous robotics. 20 nations spoke for the first time on the matter, with Pakistan speaking first and calling for a ban. Other statements were delivered by Algeria, Austria, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and US, as well as the European Union, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Latin American network GRULAC, and Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. More than 20 nations attended the campaign’s first-ever side event on May 28.
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots launches in London
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots launched in London with an all-day NGO conference, press briefing, and Parliamentary event.
US Department of Defense issues policy directive on autonomous weapons
The US Department of Defense issued a policy directive on autonomous weapons, making the United States the first government to spell out its policy on fully autonomous weapons systems.
Human Rights Watch launches report "Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots"
Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic launched a 49-page report, Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots, which calls for a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons.
NGO commitment to take action against fully autonomous weapons
At a Campaign Summit in New York, representatives from 40 NGOs working in humanitarian disarmament committed to take action against fully autonomous weapons.
Agreement to form coordinated civil society “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots”
Representatives from seven NGOs met in New York and agreed to form a coordinated civil society “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots” aimed at securing a preemptive prohibition on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons.
Article 36 calls for a ban on autonomous selection and attack
British NGO Article 36 called for a ban on military systems that are able to select and attack targets autonomously.
IKV Pax Christi outlines ethical and legal concerns
Dutch NGO IKV Pax Christi issued a report outlining its ethical and legal concerns with the use of armed drones and autonomous weapons.
Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams calls for ban on killer robots
In an article for the International Journal of Intelligence Ethics, Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams called for a ban on “fully autonomous attack and kill robotic weapons.”
ICRAC convenes its first workshop
The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) convened its first workshop in Berlin where its members called for an international treaty to prohibit development, acquisition, deployment, and use of armed autonomous robot weapons.
Landmark report by UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
A report by United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Prof. Philip Alston, found that “Urgent consideration needs to be given to the legal, ethical and moral implications of the development and use of robotic technologies, especially but not limited to uses for warfare.”
International Committee for Robot Arms Control established
Noel Sharkey, Jürgen Altmann, Peter Asaro, and Rob Sparrow agreed to establish the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), calling, inter alia, for “prohibition of the development, deployment and use of armed autonomous unmanned systems.”
Landmine Action expresses support for the creation of a treaty
Landmine Action (now Action on Armed Violence) expressed support for the creation of an international treaty against machines that make their own targeting decisions.
Prof. Noel Sharkey warns against the development of fully autonomous robots
In The Guardian, roboticist Prof. Noel Sharkey warned against the development of fully autonomous robots that make their own decisions about lethality and called for their international regulation.
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