UN Secretary-General Urges for Action Against Autonomous Weapons

Prior to the Sixth Review Conference of the Convention against Certain Conventional Weapons(CCW), UN Secretary General António Guterres urged countries to adopt an ambitious strategy for the future to impose restrictions on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons. He has urged the CCW to move forward with its work on autonomous weapons that can select targets and kill people without the need for human intervention. 

The CCW aims to limit the use of weapons that are extremely lethal or have indiscriminate consequences. It is founded on proportionality and the distinction between civilians and fighters. It has recently become a focal point for debates on the humanitarian, ethical, military, and legal consequences of the employment of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS). 

Members of the CCW have been discussing a possible framework for dealing with LAWS since 2013. Members of the CCW have had opposing stances on the issue. Concerns about the dangers of these “killer robots” have grown after the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya stated in March 2021 that a military-grade autonomous drone had been used in a military battle. 

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, and Mutafa Suleyman, the Vice President of Google’s Artificial Intelligence Policy, are among the leading AI specialists who have pushed the United Nations to prohibit the creation of autonomous weaponry.  

The proposed ban on LAWS has been backed by a group of over 65 CCW states. The restriction has been challenged by some member states, including the United States and Russia. Instead of a treaty prohibiting the use of LAWS, the US has voiced a preference for a “non-binding code of conduct”. States like the United States, Israel, India, the Netherlands, and France are opposed to the restriction since they have invested much in the development of artificial intelligence for military purposes. 

Since World War II, the rapid technological advancement of weaponry has outpaced the progress of corresponding rules. Due to national security and defense concerns, this challenge is aggravated by a lack of consensus across governments. It is critical that the use of these weapons be regulated as soon as possible. 

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