Netherlands against measures to prevent killer robots

April 1, 2019

A growing group of European states supports concrete measures against killer robots. The Netherlands, however, are lagging behind.

On a United Nations conference in Geneva about autonomous weapons, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland proposed to investigate concretely which autonomous weapons should be prohibited. Austria together with Brazil and Chili tabled a proposal for a prohibition on autonomous weapons earlier. German and France support a political declaration, that would not be legally binding on states. The Dutch delegation has so far not supported any of these proposals. Given the growing concern among the general public about these weapons and the rapid technological developments, PAX hopes the Netherlands will support concrete measures at the next meeting of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which will take place in August.

The Netherlands are lagging behind the growing group of European states that support concrete measures to prevent the development of autonomous weapons. And it’s not just European states that support this. In September 2018, the European parliament adopted a resolution by a large majority (82%) that calls for an international prohibition. UN Secretary General António Guterres has stated that these weapons are politically unacceptable and morally repugnant and that they should be banned internationally.

Just words, no action

Member states to the UN Convention on Certain Convention Weapons, the CCW, have been coming together to discuss concerns around autonomous weapons since 2014. Since then, they have not been able to agree on concrete steps to prevent the development of these weapons. This is caused mainly by the fact that the CCW operates by consensus, which means any state can block any decision on its own. The lack of progress in the CCW underlines that politically bold leadership is necessary to prevent killer robots from becoming reality.

What are killer robots

Killer robots are autonomous weapon systems that could select and attack targets without meaningful human control. Such autonomous capabilities could be used in different types of weapon systems, including tanks, airplanes and ships. There are serious ethical, legal and security concerns around these weapons. It is therefore very important that states put in place a prohibition on these weapons before they become reality. The clock is ticking and the Netherlands should take its responsibility and cooperate with other European states to make an international prohibition on killer robots reality.

You can view a video on killer robots here.

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