Statement of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to the Human Rights Council 2013

Beatrice Fihn, manager 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 30 May 2013.

I am speaking on behalf of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an international coalition of non-governmental organizations that was launched last month. My organization, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is a member.

We believe that human control of over the use of violent force is essential for ensuring the protection for civilians. The campaign is calling for a comprehensive ban on fully autonomous weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without meaningful human intervention. This prohibition should be achieved through an international treaty on these fully autonomous weapons as well as through national laws and other measures.

The campaign welcomes the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on ‘lethal autonomous robotic weapons.’ We share the multiple moral, ethical, legal, policy, technical, and other concerns that the report raises with respect to these weapons.

We agree that the central question that must be asked is “whether it is not inherently wrong to let autonomous machines decide who and when to kill.” We note that the UN report describes this question as an “overriding consideration” and states “if the answer is negative, no other consideration can justify the deployment of [lethal autonomous robotics], no matter the level of technical competence at which they operate.”

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots urges all states to endorse and commit to implement the report’s recommendations, including an immediate moratorium on robotics weapons systems that can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human. Implementing these recommendations should be seen as a first step towards a comprehensive international ban on fully autonomous weapons.

We urge all countries to consider and publicly articulate their policy on fully autonomous weapons and welcome the many statements that have been made today, as it highlights the importance of this issue. We think it is impossible to assert that existing laws are adequate without having a public debate on the implications of these new technologies.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots commits to implement the UN report’s recommendations to NGOs. We formed this coalition to raise awareness about fully autonomous weapons. We urge transparency with respect to both states’ policy and practice in the development of robotic weapons systems. We support the recommendation to establish a panel of experts to consider how to effectively address this challenge.

Thank you.