A large majority of people in 10 European countries want their country to work towards an international ban on killer robots. This is one of the results of a new YouGov poll commissioned by PAX.
According to the poll, 73% of respondents want European states to take action to support a ban on weapon systems that could select and attack targets without meaningful human control, commonly known as killer robots. In the Netherlands, 80% of respondents were in favour of the Dutch government supporting such a ban. The survey, conducted in October, included respondents in Belgium, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
Europe needs to lead
This week states will be meeting at the UN in Geneva to discuss how to move forward on the issue of lethal autonomous weapons. The majority of European states agree that human control must be retained in the use of lethal force and want to work towards concrete policy outcomes. For more information, see the latest PAX report, ‘Convergence?’.
A small group of states can block progress and considerably water down texts at the Conventional on Conventional Weapons (CCW) due to its consensus-based decision making. This means that the progress agreed upon at the CCW does not reflect what the majority of states at the CCW may want.
Given this, it is crucial that European states not only work together but also work with like-minded states to take bold steps towards an international treaty ensuring meaningful human control over the use of force. A legal instrument could codify the level and form of human control necessary, and unambiguously address the application of international law to these weapons. This is what was done in the case of cluster munitions. The time for action is now.
According to Daan Kayser, project leader autonomous weapons at PAX: “Most European states consider themselves supporters of a norms-based world order, which is under increasing pressure. It is therefore crucial that European states take bold steps towards a legally binding instrument ensuring meaningful human control over the use of force. A noon-binding political declaration is insufficient to address the serious concerns raised by killer robots”.
The survey, carried out by YouGov, was commissioned by PAX and funded by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The sample size was one thousand people per country (except Switzerland and Ireland, where the sample size was five hundred).