ACTION ALERT: Consensus Killer Robots Must Be Addressed
June 1, 2013
Stop Killer Robots.org
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots welcomes the UN Special Rapporteur's report and urges all to endorse and implement its recommendations, including the call for an immediate moratorium on robotics weapons systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human. This would be a first step towards a comprehensive international ban on these fully autonomous weapons.
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On the morning of Thursday (30 May) in Geneva nations debated what to do about fully autonomous weapons for the first time ever at the United Nations Human Rights Council following the presentation of the report on 'lethal autonomous robotic weapons' by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Professor Christof Heyns.
A total of 24 states spoke on the report's findings on fully autonomous weapons: Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Ecuador, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. Ireland spoke on behalf of the European Union (27 states), Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (56 states), and Argentina on behalf of GRULAC (Latin American and Caribbean Group of 33 states).
All of these states expressed interest and concern in the challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons. None opposed discussing it further.
The United Kingdom was the only state to declare its opposition to the call for a moratorium or ban on fully autonomous weapons. Brazil and France suggested the Convention on Conventional Weapons a venue for discussing the topic further. Pakistan expressed its support for a ban, while others endorsed the report's call for a moratorium.
Sweden explained that it is traditionally responsible for the resolution on the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. It said the resolution will be put forward in 2014 at the 26th session of the Human Rights Council (this is currently the 23rd session). Sweden indicated that the resolution will include operative paragraphs on the recommendations contained in the report.
In its statement the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots welcomed the UN Special Rapporteur and urges all to endorse and implement its recommendations, including the call for an immediate moratorium on robotics weapons systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human. This would be a first step towards a comprehensive international ban on these fully autonomous weapons.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots said that it shares the moral, ethical, legal, policy, technical, and other concerns that the UN report raises with respect to these weapons.
To avoid future harm, it is urging states to take action now to stop the creation of weapons that would choose and fire on targets on their own without meaningful human supervision or control. As the UN report warns, "If left too long to its own devices, the matter will, quite literally, be taken out of human hands."
On Tuesday, 28 May 2013, Steve Goose from Human Rights Watch and Peter Asaro from the International Committee on Robot Arms Control explained the campaign's objectives and its views on the UN report during a press conference and side event.
Representatives from 25 nations attended the Human Rights Council side event held by the campaign on Tuesday, May 28: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Holy See, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, US, and Zimbabwe, in addition to the European Union and civil society representatives, including campaign Steering Committee members Article 36, IKV Pax Christi, and Mines Action Canada.
Before the side event, the Association of UN Correspondents/Association des Correspondents Auprès des Nations Unies (ACANU) hosted a press briefing by the campaign that 20 UN Geneva-based journalists attended. The campaign issued a press release and synopsis of the UN report.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots was launched in London on 23 April 2013. The international coalition is led by a Steering Committee of nine non-governmental organizations and has campaign representatives in 15 countries.
For more information, please see:
UN Report on 'lethal autonomous robotic weapons'
Campaign Statement to Human Rights Council (30 May 2013)
Campaign Update on the UN report (30 April 2013)
Campaign Press Release -- UN Report (28 May 2013)
Article 36 (UK) Press Statement (30 May 2013)
Human Rights Watch (US) Press Statement (28 May 2013)
IKV Pax Christi (Netherlands) Press Statement (28 May 2013)
Synposis of UN Report (21 May 2013)