Lethal Autonomous Weapons will undermine regional and global stability: Aryasinha


At a five day Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) Sri Lanka cautioned that the potential military advantages of LAWS held the risk of proliferation, thereby lowering the threshold of the rules of warfare, undermining regional as well as global stability.

Sr Lanka's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha also warned of the risk of non-state actors gaining access to such weapons and the potential breach of cyber security in the autonomous technology used by the weapons systems.

The intervention by Sri Lanka at the five day Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) comes within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) which commenced on April 11 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

LAWS, also commonly known as 'Killer Robots,' is being broadly categorised as an emerging type of autonomous technology with potential use in lethal weapons systems, that will once activated, have the ability to select, engage, and use force at targets, without any human intervention.

Ambassador Aryasinha said Sri Lanka calls for "the negotiation of a legally binding international instrument that regulates the use of autonomous technology in weapon systems," adding that "as an important first step, a Governmental Group of Experts (GGE) with an initial discussion mandate be appointed by consensus for this purpose, at the Fifth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to be held in December 2016."

He further noted that the debate on LAWS is not merely a question of if to ban or not to ban autonomous technology in weapons systems, but rather a question of the acceptable threshold of the degree of autonomy in weapon systems that is in compliance with international law, in particular International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

The Ambassador said it is important that the CCW acts on this issue, in order to maintain its own credibility, and to strike a balance between the legitimate security aspirations of States and the inherent humanitarian concerns of the international community.

He urged those countries already in possession of autonomous weapons or have the capability to do so, to engage in an open and constructive dialogue with the rest of the Member States to discuss genuine concerns and consider a way forward within the framework of the CCW.

The Meeting of Experts was chaired by Ambassador Michael Biontino of Germany for the second consecutive year, building on the two previous Expert Meetings held in 2014 and 2015 respectively. 

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