UN will continue formal talks about regulation killer robots

November 24, 2017

The United Nations will continue official talks on killer robots next year. This was decided today in Geneva. In two sessions of five days each, member states will look into whether or not to regulate lethal autonomous weapons, otherwise known as killer robots. PAX is pleased with the decision, although the organization had hoped for more urgency in order to bring a halt to the development of these dangerous weapons systems. PAX’s programme leader for killer robots, Miriam Struyk, says, “The technology is proceeding full steam ahead. Every month that passes without taking concrete steps towards a ban can mean that it’s too late.”

Last week, for the first time, the UN held a Group of Government Experts meeting on killer robots. During the week, 22 countries called for an outright ban. In addition, the importance of human control of the use of lethal violence was widely agreed. However, since the Convention for Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), the UN body responsible for killer robots, works on a consensus basis, a small group of countries can delay or block move toward regulation. Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Russia do not want any regulation, let alone a ban.

PAX, co-founder of the international campaign Stop Killer Robots, calls on countries to take concrete steps in 2018. Miriam Struyk says, “First of all, working definitions must be agreed upon: what counts as a killer robot? It is also essential to determine what is meant by meaningful human control, and how this can be guaranteed. PAX fervently hopes that next year’s discussions will clear the way for negotiations on a legally binding instrument to go into effect in 2019 which forbids weapons systems without meaningful human control over targeting and killing.”

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