During the 2013 session of the General Assembly’s First Committee, a number of states publicly raised the issue of fully autonomous weapons for the first time. The increased attention to this emerging security concern follows the release of a report earlier this year by Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, calling for a moritorium on the development of lethal autonomous robotics, and the launch of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots – an international coalition of non-governmental organisations of which UNA-UK is a member.
Along with two well-attended side events on this issue, including one hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the First Committee saw members of the Campaign issue a statement in plenary on 29 October, calling on states to adopt a “broad and purposeful mandate of work” on the topic when they meet at the Meeting of States Parties to the the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) on 14-15 November in Geneva.
France, the state chairing this year’s CCW meeting, has already begun building support for adding fully autonomous weapons to the convention’s programme for 2014. This will mark the first UN-specific debate on fully autonomous weapons to be held in a treaty-making body. A further Campaign to Stop Killer Robots side event will be held alongside the CCW meeting to highlight the campaign’s expectations for government action.
See below for a media advisory relating to the CCW meeting sent out on 7 November on behalf of the UK members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots:
Governments to decide to whether to start talks on killer robots
7 November 2013
Next week at the annual international meeting of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), states will agree whether to start discussions on autonomous weapons systems. The Convention on Conventional Weapons, agreed in 1980, is the UN treaty designed to develop new rules on weapons that pose particular concerns for humanity.
Campaigners are calling for an international treaty to prohibit fully autonomous weapons arguing that decisions to kill should not be delegated to machines.
Although fully autonomous weapons are not yet in operation, a number of states are well underway with research, development and testing of these technologies. The UK began testing its autonomous unmanned intercontinental combat aircraft last month. The US is already ahead of the game with the X47 that can now take off and land on aircraft carriers. China has been developing the Anjian for autonomous air-to-air combat. There are also parallel developments with ground, sea and submarine robots.
All states that are party to the CCW can participate in discussions. France is chairing the meeting and has tabled a mandate proposing talks on ‘lethal autonomous weapons systems’.
The UK has said it will participate at the CCW meeting in Geneva next week, and campaigners are calling on the UK to back this initiative.
- PRESS BRIEFING
Wednesday 13 November, 10.00-11.00, in the Library at the United Nations, Geneva
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots will hold a press briefing, which is open to UN Correspondents Association (ACANU) members.
- BRIEFING FOR DELEGATES
Wednesday 13 November, 13.15-14.00, in room XXIV at the United Nations, Geneva
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots will hold a briefing for government delegates, which is open to anyone accredited to the UN CCW meeting.
- CCW MEETING
Thursday 14 and Friday 15 November, 10.00-18.00, United Nations, Geneva
The Meeting of High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) is open to anyone accredited to the UN CCW meeting.
The CCW meeting takes place at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva.
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