Are new and coming military technologies in line with current international humanitarian and human rights law? Will we be able, through preventive law-making, to either ban these weapons altogether or, at the very least, make sure that their deployment and use are subject to clear human control?
This past week a lot of very smart and well-prepared experts and delegates from several UN organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and 87 countries came together at the UN Office in Geneva to discuss the challenges posed by Killer Robots, aka Lethal Autonomous Weapons. The discussion took place under the umbrella of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) which once before produced a pre-emptive binding agreement prohibiting the use of blinding laser weapons, before they were ever deployed on the battlefield. This good precedent should inspire us to do the same for Killer Robots!
The Stop Killer Robots Campaign, amongst many other actors, have called for a complete ban of lethal autonomous weapons or, failing that, for new international law to be developed to regulate how they are governed. The ultimate decision to end life must remain firmly under human control. This past week's meeting kicked off the discussion on how to do that and the stage is now set for the CCW's future work on the issue.
As Killer Robots draw increasing attention, all of us (and particularly governments) must now do our homework and think constructively on how to address these new challenges. Smart solutions are needed in order to make the next CCW Meeting in Geneva in November a success.