Background on Lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS)
Potentially LAWS could identify and attack a target without human intervention. If such weapons were developed, questions arise as to whether these could be used in compliance with the current rules of international humanitarian law? What would be the impact of these weapons on the law of state responsibility and international criminal law? And what would they mean for the conduct of future warfare?
At the 2013 CCW Meeting of States Parties, the Chairperson, Ambassador Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel of France, negotiated the first mandate within the CCW on LAWS.
The first informal Meeting of Experts was held in 2014 and chaired by Ambassador Simon-Michel.
A further two informal Meetings of Experts were held in 2015 and 2016 and chaired by Ambassador Michael Biontino of Germany.
The final reports of the CCW informal Meetings of Experts on LAWS are available at the following links:
2014 Report of the Informal Meeting of Experts
2015 Report of the Informal Meeting of Experts
2016 Report and recommendations of the Informal Meeting of Experts
At the 2016 Fifth CCW Review Conference, presided over by Ambassador Tehmina Janjua of Pakistan, High Contracting Parties decided to establish a Group of Governmental Experts on LAWS to meet in 2017. It will be chaired by Ambassador Amandeep Singh Gill of India.
Mr. Michael Douglas, UN Messenger of Peace, speaks on LAWS
UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
UNIDIR has been one of the first international actors to address issues related to the Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies in the context of security and disarmament. The Institute started dedicated work on autonomy in 2013 and has produced numerous resources that frame complex issues in accessible ways, including observation reports and audio files of expert presentations.
The Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies in the Maritime Environment: Testing the Waters, 2015
The Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies: Considering Ethics and Social Values, 2015
The Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies: Considering how Meaningful Human Control might move the discussion forward, 2014
Framing Discussions on the Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies, 2014
Report of Second ICRC Expert Meeting, September 2016
Report of the First ICRC Expert Meeting, 26 - 28 March 2014
Views of the ICRC on autonomous weapon systems, CCW meeting, 11 April 2016
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
Losing Humanity, a November 2012 report by Human Rights Watch, was a key catalyst for the international debate over weapons systems that would select and attack targets without further human intervention. In April 2013, Human Rights Watch joined with other non-governmental organizations to launch the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which calls for a preemptive ban on the development, production, and use of lethal autonomous weapons systems. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has made several short films on the CCW process on LAWS. The global coalition and its members have issued many reports, memos, and briefings detailing various ethical, legal, operational, proliferation, and technical concerns posed by these weapons.