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Stop Killer Robots

The last summit promoted by the United Nations has just been held in Geneva, but the expected ban on ‘autonomous weapons’ has not occurred. An international campaign to limit the use of autonomous weapons systems – so-called killer robots – will continue next year after the latest round of talks yielded no concrete progress. The discussions were conducted by the 125 signatory states of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

At the international level, there is still no legislative framework regulating the development and use of weapons capable of killing without human control. Opposition from the United States, China, Russia, United Kingdom, India and Israel weighs on the failure to adopt binding rules.

A historic opportunity at the UN for the banning of killer robots

CCW Review Conference. An opportunity for international legislation that preserves human control over the use of lethal force. A historic opportunity to safeguard humanity and human rights from the use of artificial intelligence in weapon systems. Italy says it is ready to support a mandate that includes the development of a legal instrument on autonomous weapons technologies

For 8 years, governments around the world have argued that the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) is the appropriate forum for respond to the moral, ethical, humanitarian, security and legal risks that killer robots face pose to the international community. The sixth CCW Review Conference ending today in Geneva is therefore a historic opportunity for states to take steps to safeguard humanity against autonomy in the use of force, and a turning point for the diplomatic process within this Convention.

High are the expectations of civil society towards thehypothesis that the Review Conference could adopt a mandate to begin negotiations on a binding international legal instrument. States now have the opportunity to ensure that it comes maintained significant human control over the use of force and to draw a legal and moral line against machines that kill people, the most extreme form of digital dehumanization. The Stop Killer Robots Campaign (which also the Disarmament Peace Network is a part of) and opponents of Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS) fear a dystopian future in which tanks, submarines, robots or fleets of drones with facial recognition software can roam unsupervised human beings and strike human targets autonomously. “Today we are faced with a crucial opportunity for states: to find the courage to take steps to regulate and prohibit autonomy in weapon systems“, he has declared Clare Conboy spokesperson for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

Unfortunately the recent diplomatic talks by the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) which had a mandate on this subject from the Convention have had a major failure as a result, with states unable to agree on a way forward despite the majority of countries asking for new international law. The US, UK, India and Russia – countries that are already developing autonomous weapons – have used the consensus rule to block any progress towards possible regulation. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross in recent weeks he recalled how the “loss of control and human judgment in the use of force and in the operation of weapons raises serious concerns from humanitarian, legal and ethical perspectives“.

The ongoing debate at the CCW Review Conference takes place amid growing public expectation and burgeoning political leadership on this issue. The Government of New Zealand recently added its support to the 66 countries who explicitly requested a new legally binding instrument. The United Nations Secretary-General, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, thousands of scientists, AI and robotics experts, and over 17,000 subscribers within weeks of a Stop Killer Robots petition have asked government leaders around the world to start negotiating of a new international law.

During the first discussion sessions of the current Conference Italy has also expressed its willingness to support and vote on a mandate for the CCW that includes the development of a legal instrument on technologies for autonomous weapons. “A definitely positive stance – he comments Francesco Vignarca, campaign coordinator of the Italian Peace and Disarmament Network – that finally it expresses the will to support concrete steps towards banning autonomous lethal weapons. Italy has always supported the need to maintain significant human control over the use of force: we hope that this declaration signifies the beginning of a commitment that will also lead our country to express itself – together with all the other states that have already done so – for a binding international legal standard on LAWS “.

A position of this type certainly is also supported by the majority of public opinion both in Italy and in the main states of the world, as numerous surveys have shown in recent years and the in-depth analyzes conducted in our country (also for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) by the Institute of International Research Disarmament Archive. “Even the latest opinion poll on a representative sample of the Italian population that we carried out – he underlines Francesca Farruggia IRIAD Secretary General – shows how over 2/3 of the interviewees declare themselves opposed to the development of autonomous weapons capable of operating alone on the battlefield, with as many as 40% very opposed to this hypothesis. The option of developing and using autonomous weapons does not seem to have supporters among Italian citizens. This constitutes a necessary condition for our country to take a critical position on the matter ”.

If the Review Conference fails (ed: and failed) to adopt a negotiating mandate to the CCW for the elaboration of a binding norm, the growing number of States that intend to act on this issue will have to consider an alternative path. We have already seen this happen successfully with the paths that led to the Treaties on anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. Any different or weaker choice will not live up to the steps our politicians have to take to ensure that technology plays a positive and responsible role in our society.

SOURCE https://ilmanifesto.it/allonu-unopportunita-storica-per-la-messa-al-bando-dei-killer-robots-litalia-favorevole-al-percorso-verso-una-norma-internazionale/

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