Magazine article Arms Control Today

Meeting Set to Discuss Autonomous Arms

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Meeting Set to Discuss Autonomous Arms

Article excerpt

Countries meeting in Geneva last month agreed to start discussions on a class of weapons that can use lethal force without human intervention.

At a Nov. 15 session of the annual meeting of parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), coun- tries decided to hold an "informal" meeting of experts next may 13-16 "to discuss the questions related to emerging tech- nologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems," according to the official document summarizing the results of the session. The may discussions are to be "in the context of the objectives and purposes" of the CCW, which bans or re- stricts the use of certain types of conventional weapons.

The Nov. 15 decision represents the first international at- tempt to grapple with what observers and participants say are the complex and, in some cases, unique issues raised by these weapons systems, dubbed by their critics as "killer robots."

Jean-hugues Simon-michel, the French ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva who chaired the CCW meeting, said in a Nov. 25 e-mail to Arms Control Today that one of the reasons the topic is complex is that the technologies in question are still under development. The may meeting is intended to be "a first step toward building a common under- standing of the questions raised" by the topic, he said, adding that "[i]t is too early to say" what the final result of the process will be.

The issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems has drawn increased attention in the past year or so. …

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