UNA-UK has received a response from a joint civil society letter sent to the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond calling on the UK Government to “be at the forefront of international discussions” to prevent the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS).
In his letter, Mr Hammond responded positively to concerns raised by UNA-UK and others that the UK’s policy on these weapons remains unclear, agreeing that the Government needs to “reflect on how best UK policy can be further developed and articulated”.
However, it is disappointing to note that the UK remains unconvinced by the principle of ‘meaningful human control’ – a principle advocated by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, of which UNA-UK is a member, as a useful starting point upon which states can build consensus and explore what constitutes an acceptable level of human oversight in weapons systems.
The letter follows a recent expert meeting of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons where the UK, along with France, showed some leadership in stating that they would not be pursuing these types of weapons. Meanwhile, Israel and the United States appeared to leave the door open for the future development of LAWS.
UNA-UK regrets that the UK neither expressed support for an international ban on LAWS, nor for the principle of meaningful human control. A more detailed analysis of the meeting can be found at the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots website.
UNA-UK will continue to make the case that it is in the UK’s best interest to ensure that no country develops LAWS, and, to this end, calls on the new UK Government to adopt a more progressive stance on this issue both domestically and internationally.