15 Oct 2018

Amnesty calls on UN to ban “killer robots”

Amnesty International has called upon countries to ban fully autonomous weapons systems. The call came on the first day of the UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems meeting.

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Amnesty states that technology related to advanced weapons systems are outpacing international law. Future technologies may be able to replicate human responses, including “the ability to analyse the intentions behind people’s actions, to assess and respond to often dynamic and unpredictable situations, or make complex decisions about the proportionality or necessity of an attack.” A complete ban on fully autonomous weapons is necessary in order to avoid possible “dystopian” futures. Human interaction should be required by law to be involved in the identification, selection, and engagement of targets in advanced weapons.

Amnesty has also stated concerns related to the use of fully autonomous weapons systems in law enforcement activities. Israel has previously used a semi-autonomous drone to fire tear gas at protesters. The use of fully autonomous weapons systems in law enforcement are stated as being “incompatible with international human rights laws, and could lead to unlawful killings, injuries and other violations of human rights.” In an April meeting of the CCW, 26 countries called for a complete ban of fully autonomous weapons systems. However, some countries have opposed the creations of these laws, including France, Israel, Russia, South Korea, the US and the UK. The next CCW meeting is scheduled for November.

Human Rights Watch has previously called for the banning of autonomous weapons through an international convention in April 2016. The use of autonomous weapons has several potential impacts on human rights, including “the right to life, the right to a remedy and the principle of human dignity.”


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