UNA-UK teamed up with others to send a letter to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, calling on the UK Government to “be at the forefront of international discussions” to prevent the development of autonomous weapons systems.
The letter was sent to Mr Hammond ahead of the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) expert meeting, taking place in Geneva from 13-17 April 2015. The informal talks provide states with an opportunity to build consensus on the key legal, moral and technical principles that surround weapons that can operate without human intervention.
The purpose of the CCW, to which the UK is party, is to ban or restrict the use of weapons that cause excessive suffering to combatants or that affect civilians indiscriminately. As a member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, UNA-UK sees the meeting as a useful opportunity for states to build consensus on the principle that all weapons systems should require meaningful human control over individual attacks. As noted in the letter to Mr Hammond, this principle in line with the UK’s assertion in March 2013 that “weapons systems will always remain under human control”.
In its opening statement this morning, the UK delegation called for international consensus on the definition of lethal autonomous weapons systems but failed to endorse the principle of meaningful human control.
It is clearly in our interest to ensure that all weapons systems remain under strict human control. As such, the UK should play a progressive role at the CCW meeting and beyond to prevent anyone developing autonomous weapons systems in the future.