United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Urges Action on ‘Killer Robots’ as Geneva Talks Open

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for new rules covering the use of autonomous weapons as a key meeting on the issue opened in Geneva on Monday. Negotiators in UN talks have been discussing the limits of lethal autonomous weapons, or LAWS, for eight years, which are entirely machine-controlled and rely on new technology such as artificial intelligence and facial recognition. But the pressure has increased somewhat due to a UN panel report in March that said Libya could have its first autonomous drone strike.

“I encourage the review conference to agree on an ambitious plan for the future to establish a ban on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons,” Guterres said at the start of the five-day talks. There are 125 parties, including the United States, China and Israel, to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Some participating states, such as Austria, called for a complete ban on LAWS, while others, including Washington, have been more reticent and pointed to the potential benefits of weapons that can be more accurate than humans at hitting targets. .

Amnesty International And civil society groups are calling on countries to begin negotiations on an international treaty and will present a petition to negotiators later on Monday.

“The pace of technology is really starting to advance at the rate of diplomatic negotiations,” said Claire Conboy of Stop Killer Robots. “(This) is a historic occasion for States to take steps to protect humanity against autonomy in the use of force.”

French disarmament ambassador Yan Hwang, who chairs the talks, called for “important and important decisions” to be taken this week. However, diplomats say that the body, which requires a consensus, is unlikely to reach an agreement that begins an international treaty, with Russia among others expected to oppose such a move.

“There is not enough support to initiate a treaty at this stage, but we think some principles can be agreed upon for national implementation,” said a diplomat involved in the talks.

If an agreement cannot be reached, countries can negotiate at another forum, inside or outside the United Nations.