Monday, January 17

A “code of conduct” for using killer robots?

The United States is pushing to bring “killer robots” to life. Their representatives pleaded Thursday at a meeting at the UN in favor of the development of a “code of conduct” but “not binding”, to develop these devices, officially called lethal autonomous weapons systems (SALA) .

“Such a code would help states promote responsible behavior and respect for international law,” said Josh Dorosin, State Department legal adviser, at a meeting in Geneva of the Group of Governmental Experts on Governmental Systems. lethal autonomous weapons.

A first official meeting of this group took place in 2017, without reaching a consensus on the need or not to regulate the future use of these weapons. However, it is expected that it will publish recommendations at the end of its last meeting (from 2 to 8 December), in view of the review conference of the United Nations Convention on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCAC ), which will be held from December 13 to 17 in Geneva.

A report must indeed be unveiled there, recommending that the States of the Convention open negotiations in order to reach international standards on these “killer robots”. The document also recommends that states undertake to exercise “sufficient human control” by putting in place safeguards.

United States, India and Russia do not want constraints on these killer robots

During Thursday’s debates, several countries, including the United States and India, expressed their reluctance to adopt a binding legal framework and thus criticized many aspects of the report.

They thus face strong opposition to the development of these lethal autonomous weapons. In November 2018, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, called for them to be banned, calling them “politically unacceptable and morally revolting”. The International Committee of the Red Cross, for its part, asks the countries concerned to agree on the limits to be imposed, “to ensure the protection of civilians, respect for international humanitarian law and the ethical acceptability of these systems”.

The organization is a strong advocate for legally binding rules that ban autonomous weapon systems that are unpredictable or target people.

The NGOs also plead in this direction: “a minority of States is currently blocking the efforts aimed at starting negotiations. If these talks fail, it is time to consider other avenues to make credible progress, ”the Stop Killer Robots campaign, a global coalition of more than 180 NGOs, told AFP.

According to Human Rights Watch, progress on the supervision of killer robots seems unlikely under the UN Convention, because it would require a consensus, which does not seem to allow “several military powers, in particular India, Russia and the United States ”.

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