U.N. Conference on Killer Robots Moving Forward


During an international conference on conventional weapons, countries agreed on November 14, 2014 to discuss concerns with fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots.” There are currently 118 nations that are part of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) who agreed to reconvene at the United Nations in Geneva on April 13-17, 2015 to continue discussing issues raised earlier in 2014 on questions relating to “lethal autonomous weapons systems.” Although these weapons have not been created yet, with technology moving rapidly, this increases autonomy.

Mary Wareham, arms advocacy director at Human Rights Watch and coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots stated, “By continuing talks, countries are acknowledging the many concerns raised by autonomous warfare, but the technology is moving faster than the international response.” Wareham suggested that a new international treaty should be created based on these discussions to make sure humans control their targeting and attack strategy decisions.

Parties to the CCW include countries known for their advancements in autonomous weaponry such as the United States, China, Israel, Russia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. This Convention was adopted in 1980 and has five protocols, one of which is protocol IV that preemptively banned blinding lasers.

Human Rights Watch is addressing this issue as they are the co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an international coalition of nongovernmental groups, which started in April 2013. Human Rights Watch is seeking a pre-emptive ban on weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without any human intervention.

Do you think there should be a pre-emptive ban on weapons such as “killer robots” that could attack and select targets without any human intervention? Should a new international treaty be developed to stop these types of weapons? How should the rapid growth in technology factor into this debate?

Source: Human Rights Watch 


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