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Statement of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to the Human Rights Council 2014

Mia Gandenberger, Programme Associate of Reaching Critical Will, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), delivered this statement on behalf of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to the Human Rights Council on 13 June 2014. 

Thank you, Chair.

I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the international coalition of more than 50 non-governmental organizations, including my own, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

To ensure there is always human control over targeting and attack decisions the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots calls for a pre-emptive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons, also described at this meeting as ‘autonomous weapons systems.’ This prohibition should be achieved through an international treaty as well as through national laws and other measures.

Last year, our campaign welcomed the report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions detailing the moral, ethical, legal, operational, technical, and other concerns raised by fully autonomous weapons. We urge all nations to implement the recommendations contained in the 2013 report, including the call for an immediate moratorium on weapons systems that can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human.

We welcome the latest report by the UN Special Rapporteur and its references to this topic, especially the attention drawn to “far-reaching potential implications” that fully autonomous weapons pose to human rights, specifically the rights to life and dignity. We are concerned that these weapons could undermine fundamental principles of existing international humanitarian law and human rights law.

It is crucial that fully autonomous weapons remain on the agenda of the Human Rights Council to ensure that the human rights perspective is given due consideration, not least because of the possibility that these weapons would also be used in circumstances outside of armed conflict. 

Given the serious dangers posed by fully autonomous weapons, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots supports efforts to address this challenge in any fora. We urge all nations to:

1.Develop and articulate national policy on fully autonomous weapons in consultation with relevant actors, including civil society experts.

2.Endorse the campaign’s call for a pre-emptive ban on development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons or—as an interim measure—the call by the UN Special Rapporteur for a moratorium on these weapons;

3.Support proposals for substantive discussions on fully autonomous weapons at the Human Rights Council, the Convention on Conventional Weapons, and other relevant fora, with a view to creating new international law on fully autonomous weapons.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is committed to continue raising awareness about the challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons. Our coalition stands ready to engage with governments at the national, regional, and international level.

Thank you.

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