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Stop Killer Robots:The path forward is clear, new international law

STOP KILLER ROBOTS is an association formed in October 2012 and publicly launched in 2013 as the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and has since been urging the world’s governments and the United Nations to enact a policy banning the use and development of lethal autonomous weapons systems, also known as LAWS. Stop Killer Robots operates globally with over 250 member organisations.

Below are the recent activities of Stop Killer Robot (SKR – from the association’s website).


Government meeting ‘Humanity at the Crossroads

From 28 to 30 April 2024, the Stop Killer Association – SKR – robots participated in three days of meetings on autonomous weapons and the need for regulation in Vienna. On 29 and 30 April 2024, the delegation participated in Humanity at the Crossroads, the Austrian government’s high-level meeting on autonomous weapons. This was the largest meeting on this topic outside the United Nations, with over 144 states present and more than 1,000 participants. Participants took part in panel discussions with government officials and experts from government, civil society, industry and academia. In the afternoon of the last day, states and civil society made statements to the room. A member of our Youth Network and the Dhesarme organisation, Hevelyn Ghizzi, delivered our statement on the urgent need for a new international law. Recordings of the first and second day of the conference.

This meeting saw a huge number of states affirm the need for regulation, with some new states, Mauritania and Armenia, declaring the need for a new international law to regulate and or ban killer robots. See the Automated Decision Research states’ position here to see which states are now in favour of a legally binding instrument on the autonomy of weapon systems. The meeting concluded with a Chair’s summary emphasising that ‘human control must prevail in the use of force’ and that technology should ’empower people, not dehumanise them’.


Meeting of the Action at the Crossroads civil society forum

On Sunday 28 April, SKR participated in the Action at the Crossroads civil society forum on autonomous weapons and the challenge of regulation. The forum featured a mix of interactive and immersive activities, panel discussions and lightning talks, for and by those working to ensure human control in the use of force through the development of a new international law on autonomous weapons.

The event also included our ‘Automated by Design’ exhibition and a conversation between Nobel laureate Jody Williams and disarmament activist Emma Pike, who discussed why it is critical to seize the opportunity to act on autonomous weapons. You can follow the event by watching the livestream recording.

The Vienna conference echoes circumstances in the past that led to the creation of new international laws to regulate and ban weapons systems with catastrophic humanitarian consequences. In the months leading up to the UN General Assembly, where the first ever resolution on autonomous weapons was adopted last year, we will continue to keep up the momentum and make a clear call: The time for regulation is now – the law must catch up with the pace of weapons development.


Action in Africa: the Freetown Communiqué

Less than two weeks before the Vienna meetings, ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) states gathered in Freetown, Sierra Leone, for a conference on The Peace and Security Aspect of Autonomous Weapons Systems: An ECOWAS Perspective.

The conference concluded with the adoption of the Freetown Communiqué, which recognises that existing governance mechanisms, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international criminal law, should be strengthened ‘by establishing new legally binding rules, with prohibitions and regulations that effectively address the threats and challenges posed by autonomous weapon systems’. This meeting was the first regional conference on autonomous weapons hosted in Africa, and the Freetown Communiqué is the first in Africa. This is the fifth regional position adopted on autonomous weapons in the last 14 months – the momentum is growing.

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