Background on Lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS)
Potentially LAWS could identify and attack a target without human intervention. This issue was first brought to the international community’s attention by Human Rights Watch in its report titled “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots”.
In 2013, the former Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Professor Christof Heyns, introduced LAWS to the United Nations through his annual report to the Human Rights Council. In that report, Professor Heyns concluded that, "There is clearly a strong case for approaching the possible introduction of LARs with great caution. If used, they could have far-reaching effects on societal values, including fundamentally on the protection and the value of life and on international stability and security." See - HEYNS, Christof - Report on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (focusing on lethal autonomous weapons systems)
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. Meetings of Experts were held in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The meetings in 2015 and 2016 were chaired by Ambassador Michael Biontino of Germany.
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.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots as part of its advocacy on LAWS produced this short film explaining the background to LAWS and work being undertaken within the United Nations and civil society. More recently, the Campaign has produced this film on their work during the 2015 Meeting of Experts 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