Category Archives: Events
Today Mines Action Canada Program Coordinator made an intervention during CCW discussions about autonomous weapons systems and weapons review processes.
Thank you Madame Chair. I would like to take this opportunity to share Mines Action Canada’s observations about Article 36 reviews.
Like many others, Mines Action Canada was concerned to learn that there was so little transparency around Article 36 weapons reviews at last year’s experts meeting. The fact that so few states were willing to discuss their weapons review process is a significant impediment to the prevention of humanitarian harm caused by new weapons. Indeed it seems that too few states actually undertake these reviews in a comprehensive manner.
Last year’s revelations concerning Article 36 reviews have made it clear that international discussions on the topic are necessary. Today is a start. States need to be more transparent in their weapons review processes. Sharing criteria and standards or setting international standards will do much to shed light on the shadowy world of arms procurement. Mines Action Canada believes that Article 36 weapons reviews should be a topic of discussion at the international level to strengthen both policy and practice around the world.
However, better weapons reviews will not solve the problems associated with autonomous weapons systems for a number of reasons.
First, there is the issue of timing. A successful international process to increase the effectiveness of weapons reviews will require a significant amount of time – time we do not have in the effort to prevent the use of autonomous weapons systems because technology is developing too rapidly.
Second, weapons reviews were designed for a very different type of weapon than autonomous weapon systems which have been called the third revolution in warfare. Autonomous weapons systems will blur the line between weapon and soldier to a level that may be beyond the ability of a weapons review process. In addition, the systemic complexity that will be required to operate such a weapons system is a far cry from the more linear processes found in current weapons.
Third, Article 36 reviews are not obligated to cover weapons used for domestic purposes outside of armed conflict such as policing, border control, or crowd control. Mines Action Canada, along with many civil society organizations and states present here, have serious concerns about the possible use of autonomous weapons systems in law enforcement and uses outside of armed conflict more generally.
Fourth and most importantly, weapons reviews cannot answer the moral questions surrounding delegating the kill decision to a machine. An Article 36 review cannot tell us if it is acceptable for an algorithm to kill without meaningful human control. And that is one of the key questions we are grappling with here this week.
Article 36 weapons reviews are a legal obligation for most of the states here. It is time for a separate effort to strengthen the standards and transparency around weapons reviews. That effort must neither distract from nor overtake our work here to deal with the real moral, legal, ethical and security problems associated with autonomous weapons systems. Weapons reviews must be supplemented by new and robust international law that clearly and deliberately puts meaningful human control at the centre of all new weapons development.
The concerns raised by autonomous weapons are urgent and must take priority. In fact, a GGE next year on autonomous weapons will greatly assist future work on weapons reviews by highlighting the many challenges new technologies pose for such reviews.
Overall, there is a need for international work to improve Article 36 reviews but there is little evidence to back up the claims of some states that weapons review processes would be sufficient to ensure that autonomous weapons systems are acceptable. Article 36 reviews are only useful once questions of the moral and ethical acceptability of a weapon have been dealt with. Until that time, it would be premature to view weapons review as a panacea to our issues here at CCW.
Our Executive Director, Paul Hannon delivered an opening statement at the CCW meeting on autonomous weapons systems today.
Thank you, Chairperson.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak on behalf of Mines Action Canada. Mines Action Canada is a Canadian disarmament organization that has been working to reduce the humanitarian impact of indiscriminate weapons for over twenty years. During this time, we have worked with partners around the world including here at the CCW to respond to the global crisis caused by landmines, cluster munitions, and other indiscriminate weapons. What makes this issue different is we have an opportunity to act now before a weapon causes a humanitarian catastrophe.
As a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, Mines Action Canada’s concern with the development of autonomous weapons systems runs across the board. We have numerous legal, moral/ethical, technical, operational, political, and humanitarian concerns about autonomous weapons systems. The question of the acceptability of delegating death is not an abstract thought experiment, but is the fundamental question with policy, legal and technological implications for the real-world. We must all keep this question at the fore whenever discussing autonomous weapons systems: do you want to live in a world where algorithms or machines can make the decision to take a life? War is a human activity and removing the human component in war is dangerous for everybody. We strongly support the position of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots that permitting machines to take a human life on the battlefield or in policing, border or crowd control, and other circumstances is unacceptable.
We have watched the development of discourse surrounding autonomous weapons systems since the beginning of the campaign. 2015 saw a dramatic expansion of the debate into different forums and segments of our global community and that expansion and the support it has generated have continued into 2016. Be it at artificial intelligence conferences, the World Economic Forum, the Halifax Security Forum or in the media, the call for a pre-emptive ban is reaching new audiences. The momentum towards a pre-emptive ban on autonomous weapons systems is clearly growing.
Mines Action Canada recognizes that there are considerable challenges facing the international community in navigating legal issues concerning an emerging technology. The desire to not hinder research and development into potentially beneficial technologies is understandable, but a pre-emptive ban on autonomous weapons systems will not limit beneficial research. As a senior executive from a robotics company representative told us at a workshop on autonomous weapons last week, there are no other applications for an autonomous system which can make a “kill or not kill” decision. The function providing an autonomous weapon the ability to make the “kill decision” and implement it does not have an equivalent civilian use. A pre-emptive ban would have no impact on the funding of research and development for artificial intelligence nor robotics.
On the other hand there are numerous other applications that would benefit society by improving other aspects of robot weapons while maintaining meaningful human control over the decision to cause harm. Communications technology, encryption, virtual reality, sensor technology – all have much broader and beneficial applications, from search and rescue by first responders to watching a school play when you can’t be there in person. None of that research and development would be hindered by a pre-emptive ban on autonomous weapons systems. A pre-emptive ban would though allow governments, private sector and academics to direct investments towards technologies which can have as much future benefit to non-military uses as possible.
While the “kill decision” function is only necessary for one application of robotic technology, predictability is an important requirement for all robots regardless of the context in which they are used. Manufacturing robots work well because they work in a predictable space. Driverless cars will also work in a predictable space though much less predictable than a factory, which is one of the reasons they require so much more testing and time to develop. Robotic weapons will be required to work in the least predictable of spaces, that is in combat and, therefore, are much more prone to failure. Commanders on the other hand need weapons they can rely on. Civilians need and have a right to expect that every effort is taken to protect them from the harmful effects of conflict.
Mines Action Canada appreciates the significant number of expert presentations scheduled for this week but we hope that states will take time to share their views throughout the week. It is time for states to begin to talk about their concerns, their positions and their policies. For this reason, we are calling on the High Contracting Parties to take the next step later this year at the Review Conference and mandate a GGE with a mandate to negotiate a new protocol on autonomous weapons.
We note that in the last 20 years three new legal instruments have entered into force. Each bans a weapon system and each was covered by the general rules of International Humanitarian Law at the time, but the international community felt that new specific laws banning these weapons was warranted. This not only strengthened the protection of civilians, but also made IHL more robust.
Autonomous weapons systems are not your average new weapon; they have the potential to fundamentally alter the nature of conflict. As a “game-changer” autonomous weapons systems deserve a serious and in-depth discussion. That discussion should also happen at the national level. Mines Action Canada hopes that our country will begin that effort this spring through the recently announced defence review and that other states will follow suit with their own national discussions.
At the core of this work is a desire to protect civilians and limit the humanitarian harm caused by armed conflict. We urge states not to lose sight of the end goal and their motivations as they complete the difficult work necessary for a robust and effective pre-emptive ban.
Next week, states will decide if and how they will continue international talks on autonomous weapons systems at the UN`s Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva. We and the whole Campaign to Stop Killer Robots are calling on states to take the next step towards a ban by agreeing to a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) in 2016. A GGE will allow states to explore the issues surrounding autonomous weapons systems in depth.
With such an important decision looming over states, we are launching the winners of our youth video contest. Last week, we shared the runner-up video.
Today, we are pleased to announce that Steven Hause of Florida State University won the video contest. Steven’s video covers a number of the key concerns the Campaign has about autonomous weapons systems. We hope that this video will remind governments of the need to take action at CCW next week.
Last week, 87 states gathered in Geneva to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems.
This Informal Experts Meeting ran from May 13 to May 16 and was the first international discussion on autonomous weapons systems. The meeting was focused on information rather than decision making. The 87 states attended the meeting under the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) along with representatives from UN agencies including UNIDIR, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and registered non-governmental organizations including the delegation of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
The four day meeting included general debate and then substantive sessions with presentations from experts. The Chair’s summary showed that there is a willingness to pursue this topic and a possible issue for the next meetings would be the concept of meaningful human control. The options for going forward cited include exchange of information, development of best practices, moratorium on research, and a ban. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has a great piece about the meeting on their website.
Over the course of the week many states highlighted the importance of always maintaining meaningful human control over targeting and attack decisions. We are MAC were not only pleased that 5 countries have already called for a ban, but also that no country vigorously defended or argued for autonomous systems weapons although Czech Republic and Israel each spoke on the desirability of such systems.
Unlike most countries, Canada has not yet provided copies of their statements to Reaching Critical Will or to the United Nations so we have had to piece together the statements from the CCW Review and Twitter. On day 1, Canada was the only country to say that existing international humanitarian law is sufficient to regulate the use of autonomous weapons. It also said that the definition of autonomy is difficult as autonomy is subjective depending on the system. On day 2, Canada said that the moral aspects of autonomous weapons are important and must be part of discussions in CCW. It looks like Canada did not make any statements or interventions on Day 3. On day 4, Canada called for more discussion on the ethical and political issues including meaningful human control under the CCW. Canada also said humanitarian and state security concerns must be balanced in considering autonomous weapons – which is language usually heard from Russia, China and similar states.
Some of the presentations from the substantive sessions are available online:
Technological Issues – key topics included definitions of autonomy and meaningful human control. Included a debate between Ron Arkin who believes that it is pre-mature to ban autonomous weapons and Noel Sharkey who does not believe that computerised weapons without a human in control can fully comply with international humanitarian law in the foreseeable future.
Ethics and Sociology – key topics included if machines should make the decision to take a human life, the relevance of human judgement to international law and the need for human control.
Legal Issues (International Humanitarian Law) – key topics included definitions, whether or not autonomous weapons systems are inherently illegal, morality and military effectiveness. This was an extensive debate.
Legal Issues (other areas of international law) – key topics included human rights law, accountability and article 36 weapons reviews.
Operational and military issues – key topics included meaningful human control, military effectiveness and the nature of warfare.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots held side events each day to delve deeper into the issues at hand. These side events were well attended and lively discussions covered the topics at hand in greater depth.
While the meetings were progressing in Geneva here at the national level Mines Action Canada was working to ensure these historic sessions reached media coverage across Canada. For example:
- Paul Hannon was on Calgary’s News Talk 770 and News Talk 610 in St. Catherines.
- Erin Hunt was on Kevin Newman Live (starts 2:40 mark) and CFAX 1070 in Victoria (starts 6:07 mark).
- Dr. Ian Kerr was on Ontario Today – you should definitely check out the call of the day.
- Prof. Noel Sharkey was on CBC’s As It Happens (starts at 9:40 mark)
- The Globe and Mail, the Weather Network, Global News, CTV News, Ottawa Citizen and Metro also covered the issue while the Ottawa Citizen Defense Blog picked up our press release.
CCW member states will reconvene in November to decide if they want to continue these talks. Until then Mines Action Canada and our colleagues in the international campaign will continue to push for a renewed and expanded mandate including continued discussions on meaningful human control over all targeting and firing decisions.
Mines Action Canada and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots hosted a number of events in Ottawa over the past two days to begin the discussion in Canada about autonomous weapons. We were pleased to have Mary Wareham, Global Coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Advocacy Director, Arms Division at Human Rights Watch along with Peter Asaro, Professor at the New School and Vice-Chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) join us and local expert Ian Kerr, in Ottawa for the events. Be sure to check out the great summary of the events on the Campaign’s website.
On April 28th, we met with other peace, disarmament and development organizations to talk about the campaign and to begin to build a stronger civil society presence in Canada on this issue. There was a lot of a interest from our non-profit colleagues so we look forward to hearing more voices on this issue in the near future.
Later that day, we hosted a public event at Ottawa City Hall. There was a panel discussion with Peter, Paul, Mary and Ian followed by a rather lively Question and Answer session with the audience. The audience was generally quite supportive of the Campaign and our efforts to achieve a pre-emptive ban on autonomous weapons. Audience members with backgrounds in engineering, law, the military and politics all expressed concern about the development of killer robots.
The following morning, MAC hosted a breakfast briefing for parliamentarians and their staff, other NGOs and decision makers in Ottawa. The Bagels and ‘Bots breakfast was the first time some of these decision makers had heard of the issue and it seemed to strike a chord with many in the room. After breakfast, the team was off to Parliament Hill for a press conference. At the press conference and in MAC’s press release, campaigners called for Canadian leadership on this issue internationally and for Canada to be the first country in the world to declare a moratorium on the development and production of killer robots.
The media in Ottawa and across the country have taken quite an interest in these events. The Canadian Press story was picked up in newspapers across the country as well as national media outlets and there was an associated list of facts about killer robots. The Sun News Network, and Ottawa Citizen also covered the Campaign while MAC has received a number of radio interview requests. Paul Hannon, Executive Director, was on CKNW Morning News with Philip Till.
One very exciting result of these activities is that The Globe and Mail’s editorial team has come out in support of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and our call:
The world has a long banned some weapons deemed dangerous, indiscriminate or inhumane, including chemical weapons and land mines. Autonomous robot weapons carry all such risks, and add new ones to the list. They are not wielded remotely by humans, but are intended to operate without supervision. They’re about turning life and death decisions over to software. Canada should be a leading voice advocating for a global protocol limiting their development and use.
Also Jian Ghomenshi on CBC Radio’s Q called for Canadian leadership on killer robots, he says that leadership on this issue is something Canadians could be proud of and that it could be a legacy issue for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Keep Killer Robots Fiction initiative is off to a great start. You can get involved by signing and sharing the petition at: http://bit.ly/KRpetition.
Come join us to launch the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots in Canada.
Join us at Ottawa City Hall for a panel discussion on fully autonomous weapons, led by Mines Action Canada and including guest speakers:
- Ian Kerr – Professor, University of Ottawa, and Canada Research Chair for Ethics, Law and Technology (Ottawa, ON)
- Mary Wareham – Advocacy Director – Arms Division, Human Rights Watch, and Global Coordinator for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (Washington, DC)
- Peter Asaro – The New School for Public Engagement and Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (New York, NY)
- Paul Hannon – Executive Director, Mines Action Canada (Ottawa, ON)
Where? : Ottawa City Hall – the Colonel By room
When? : April 28th, 7:00 pm (Doors at 6:45 pm)
Check out the Public Event Flyer for all the details.
Today the States Parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) agreed to convene a meeting to discuss fully autonomous weapons or killer robots in May 2014. Mines Action Canada (MAC), a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, welcomes this historic decision to begin to address this issue. MAC encourages all states to pursue an international ban on these weapons to ensure there will always be meaningful human control over targeting decisions and the use of violent force.
We are pleased that Canada made its first public statements on this topic during the CCW joining the other 43 nations who have spoken out on fully autonomous weapons since May. MAC looks forward to working with the Government of Canada to develop national policies on fully autonomous weapons. Along with our colleagues from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots we hope to see Canada actively participate in the CCW discussions. Mines Action Canada encourages Canada to take on a leadership role in international efforts to ban fully autonomous weapons and ensure that humans will always have meaningful control over life and death decisions in conflict.
“If we have learned anything from the Canadian led efforts to ban landmines, it is that the world cannot afford to wait until there is a humanitarian crisis to act. We need a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons before they can cause a humanitarian disaster,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines Action Canada.
For more details on the CCW mandate, please see the international web site for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
This week, the United Nations Human Rights Council became the first UN body to discuss the issue of killer robots. To mark the occasion, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots headed to Geneva to introduce our campaign to diplomats, UN agencies and civil society. Check out the full report from the international campaign.
Non-governmental organizations convene to launch Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
(London, April 23, 2013) – Urgent action is needed to pre-emptively ban lethal robot weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without any human intervention, said a new campaign launched in London today. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a coordinated international coalition of non-governmental organizations concerned with the implications of fully autonomous weapons, also called “killer robots.”
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots calls for a pre-emptive and comprehensive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. The prohibition should be achieved through an international treaty, as well as through national laws and other measures.
“Allowing life or death decisions on the battlefield to be made by machines crosses a fundamental moral line and represents an unacceptable application of technology,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. “Human control of autonomous weapons is essential to protect humanity from a new method of warfare that should never be allowed to come into existence.”
Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles or drones has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges. Now rapid advances in technology are permitting the United States and other nations with high-tech militaries, including China, Israel, Russia, and the United Kingdom, to move toward systems that would give full combat autonomy to machines.
“Killer robots are not self-willed ‘Terminator’-style robots, but computer-directed weapons systems that once launched can identify targets and attack them without further human involvement,” said roboticist Noel Sharkey, chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. “Using such weapons against an adaptive enemy in unanticipated circumstances and in an unstructured environment would be a grave military error. Computer controlled devices can be hacked, jammed, spoofed, or can be simply fooled and misdirected by humans.”
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots seeks to provide a coordinated civil society response to the multiple challenges that fully autonomous weapons pose to humanity. It is concerned about weapons that operate on their own without human supervision. The campaign seeks to prohibit taking a human out-of-the-loop with respect to targeting and attack decisions on the battlefield.
“The capability of fully autonomous weapons to choose and fire on targets on their own poses a fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and to compliance with international law,” said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch. “Nations concerned with keeping a human in the decision-making loop should acknowledge that international rules on fully autonomous weapons systems are urgently needed and work to achieve them.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Professor Christof Heyns, is due to deliver his report on lethal autonomous robotics to the second session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, starting May 27, 2013. The report is expected to contain recommendations for government action on fully autonomous weapons.
“One key lesson learned from the Canadian led initiative to ban landmines was that we should not wait until there is a global crisis before taking action.” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada. “The time to act on killer robots is now”
“We cannot afford to sleepwalk into an acceptance of these weapons. New military technologies tend to be put in action before the wider society can assess the implications, but public debate on such a change to warfare is crucial,” said Thomas Nash, Director of Article 36. “A pre-emptive ban on lethal autonomous robots is both necessary and achievable, but only if action is taken now.”
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots believes that humans should not delegate the responsibility of making lethal decisions to machines. It has multiple moral, legal, technical, and policy concerns with the prospect of fully autonomous weapons, including:
- Autonomous robots would lack human judgment and the ability to understand context. These human qualities are necessary to make complex legal choices on a dynamic battlefield, to distinguish adequately between soldiers and civilians, and to evaluate the proportionality of an attack. As a result, fully autonomous weapons would not meet the requirements of the laws of war.
- The use of fully autonomous weapons would create an accountability gap as there is no clarity on who would be legally responsible for a robot’s actions: the commander, programmer, or one of the manufacturers of the many sensing, computing, and mechanical components? Without accountability, these parties would have less incentive to ensure robots did not endanger civilians and victims would be left unsatisfied that someone was punished for wrongful harm they experienced.
- If fully autonomous weapons are deployed, other nations may feel compelled to abandon policies of restraint, leading to a destabilizing robotic arms race. Agreement is needed now to establish controls on these weapons before investments, technological momentum, and new military doctrine make it difficult to change course.
- The proliferation of fully autonomous weapons could make resort to war and armed attacks more likely by reducing the possibility of military casualties.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots includes several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) associated with the successful efforts to ban landmines, cluster munitions, and blinding lasers. Its members collectively have a wide range of expertise in robotics and science, aid and development, human rights, humanitarian disarmament, international law and diplomacy, and the empowerment of women, children, and persons with disabilities. The campaign is building a worldwide network of civil society contacts in countries including Canada, Egypt, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Steering Committee is the principal leadership and decision-making body for of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and is comprised of nine NGOs: five international NGOs Human Rights Watch, International Committee for Robot Arms Control, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Pugwash Conferences on Science & World Affairs, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and four national NGOs Article 36 (UK), Association for Aid and Relief Japan, Mines Action Canada, and IKV Pax Christi (The Netherlands).
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots was established by representatives of seven of these NGOs at a meeting in New York on 19 October 2012. It is an inclusive and diverse coalition open to NGOs, community groups, and professional associations that support the campaign’s call for a ban and are willing to undertake actions and activities in support of the campaign’s objectives. The campaign’s initial coordinator is Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch.
On Monday, April 22, the Steering Committee of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots convened a day-long conference for 60 representatives from 33 NGOs from ten countries to discuss the potential harm that fully autonomous weapons could pose to civilians and to strategize on actions that could be taken at the national, regional, and international levels to ban the weapons.
Contact information for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots:
- Website – www.stopkillerrobots.org
- Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/#!/stopkillerrobots
- Twitter – @BanKillerRobots
- Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/people/stopkillerrobots
- YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/StopKillerRobots
To schedule a media interview (see list of spokespersons), please contact:
- UK media – Laura Boillot at Article 36, +44(0)7515-575-175, firstname.lastname@example.org
- International media – Kate Castenson at Human Rights Watch, +1 (646) 203-8292, email@example.com
- Raw interview footage of Williams, Sharkey, Goose, and Docherty: http://multimedia.hrw.org/distribute/hpgicavqly
- Playlist of precursors to fully autonomous weapons: http://bit.ly/YQe4w8
For more information, see:
- Human Rights Watch “Losing Humanity” report on fully autonomous weapons: http://bit.ly/UQscFA
- Human Rights Watch “Review of the New US Policy on Autonomy in Weapons Systems” briefing paper: http://bit.ly/17FDTTj
List of Spokespersons
The following campaign spokespersons will be speaking at the launch events in London on 22-24 April and are available for interview on request. In addition, raw interview footage of Williams, Sharkey, Goose, and Docherty is available here: http://multimedia.hrw.org/distribute/hpgicavqly
Ms. Jody Williams – Nobel Women’s Initiative, @JodyWilliams97 @NobelWomen
Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize. In January 2006, Jody established the Nobel Women’s Initiative together with five of her sister Nobel Peace laureates. In an April 2011 article for the International Journal of Intelligence Ethics, Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams calls for a ban on “fully autonomous attack and kill robotic weapons.” In March 2013, the University of California Press published a memoir on her work entitled My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize. Williams can speak on why civil society is coming together and partnering with other actors to pursue a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons. Longer biography available here: http://bit.ly/JKVvBd
Prof. Noel Sharkey – International Committee for Robot Arms Control, @StopTheRobotWar
Roboticist Noel Sharkey is Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Professor of Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield. He is co-founder and chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), a group of experts concerned with the pressing dangers that military robots pose to peace and international security. Sharkey can speak on the technology that the campaign is seeking to prohibit and its ethical implications. See also: http://bit.ly/9fJQ7j
Mr. Steve Goose – Human Rights Watch, @hrw
Steve Goose is executive director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch and chair of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC). Goose and Human Rights Watch were instrumental in bringing about the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, the 1997 international treaty banning antipersonnel mines, the 1995 protocol banning blinding lasers, and the 2003 protocol on explosive remnants of war. Goose can speak on why a ban on fully autonomous weapons is necessary and achievable, and explain current US policy and practice. See also: http://bit.ly/USEBZo
Mr. Thomas Nash – Article 36, @nashthomas @article36
Thomas Nash is director of Article 36 and joint coordinator of the International Network on Explosive Weapons. As Coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition from 2004 to 2011, Nash led the global civil society efforts to secure the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Nash can speak about civil society expectations of UK policy, practice, and diplomacy on fully autonomous weapons.
Ms. Mary Wareham – Human Rights Watch, @marywareham, @hrw
Mary Wareham is advocacy director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch and initial coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. She worked on the processes that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty, and has worked to ensure their universalization and implementation. Wareham can speak about the new Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and its initial plans.
Dr. Jürgen Altmann – International Committee for Robot Arms Control
Jürgen Altmann is co-founder and vice-chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. He is a physicist and peace researcher at Dortmund Technical University in Germany. Altmann has studied preventive arms control of new military technologies and new methods for the verification of disarmament agreements. He can speak about Germany’s policy and practice on fully autonomous weapons.
Dr. Peter Asaro – International Committee for Robot Arms Control, @peterasaro
Peter Asaro is co-founder and vice-chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. He is a philosopher of technology who has worked in Artificial Intelligence, neural networks, natural language processing and robot vision research. Asaro is director of Graduate Programs for the School of Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement in New York City. See also: http://bit.ly/73JqBw
Ms. Bonnie Docherty – Human Rights Watch, @hrw
Bonnie Docherty is senior researcher in the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch and also a lecturer on law and senior clinical instructor at the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School. She has played an active role, as both lawyer and field researcher, in the campaign against cluster munitions. Docherty’s report Losing Humanity: The Case against Killer Robots outlines how fully autonomous weapons could violate the laws of war and undermine fundamental protections for civilians. See also: http://bit.ly/103PV4t
Mr. Richard Moyes – Article 36, @rjmoyes @article36
Richard Moyes is a managing partner at Article 36 and an honorary fellow at the University of Exeter. He was previously director of policy at Action on Armed Violence (formerly Landmine Action) and served as co-chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition. Moyes can speak about civil society expectations of UK policy, practice, and diplomacy on fully autonomous weapons. See also: http://bit.ly/103SAuS
Steering Committee members
Human Rights Watch, www.hrw.org
Human Rights Watch is serving as initial coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Over the past two decades, the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch has been instrumental in enhancing protections for civilians affected by conflict, leading the International Campaign to Ban Landmines that resulted in the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the Cluster Munition Coalition, which spurred the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. It also led the effort that resulted in the pre-emptive prohibition on blinding laser weapons in 1995. In November 2012, Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic launched the report Losing Humanity: The Case against Killer Robots, the first in-depth report by a non-governmental organization on the challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons.
Article 36 (UK), www.article36.org
Article 36 is a UK-based not-for-profit organization working to prevent the unintended, unnecessary or unacceptable harm caused by certain weapons. It undertakes research, policy and advocacy and promotes civil society partnerships to respond to harm caused by existing weapons and to build a stronger framework to prevent harm as weapons are used or developed in the future. In March 2012, Article 36 called for a ban on military systems that are able to select and attack targets autonomously.
Association for Aid and Relief Japan, www.aarjapan.gr.jp
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan is an international non-governmental organization founded in Japan in 1979. As a committed member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan played a central role in convincing Japan to ban antipersonnel landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
IKV Pax Christi (The Netherlands)- www.ikvpaxchristi.nl
IKV Pax Christi is a peace organization based in the Netherlands. It works with local partners in conflict areas and seeks political solutions to crises and armed conflicts. In May 2011, Dutch NGO IKV Pax Christi published a report entitled Does Unmanned Make Unacceptable? Exploring the Debate on using Drones and Robots in Warfare.
International Committee for Robot Arms Control, http://icrac.net
The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of scientists, ethicists, lawyers, roboticists, and other experts. It works to address the potential dangers involved with the development of armed military robots and autonomous weapons. Given the rapid pace of development of military robots and the pressing dangers their use poses to peace, international security, the rule of law, and to civilians, ICRAC supports a ban on armed robots with autonomous targeting capability.
Mines Action Canada, www.minesactioncanada.org
Mines Action Canada is a coalition of over 35 Canadian non-governmental organizations working in mine action, peace, development, labour, health and human rights that came together in 1994. It is the Canadian partner of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition.
Nobel Women’s Initiative, nobelwomensinitiative.org
The Nobel Women’s Initiative was established in January 2006 by 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate and five of her sister Nobel Peace laureates. The Nobel Women’s Initiative uses the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and of courageous women peace laureates to magnify the power and visibility of women working in countries around the world for peace, justice and equality. In an April 2011 article for the International Journal of Intelligence Ethics, Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams calls for a ban on “fully autonomous attack and kill robotic weapons.”
Pugwash Conferences on Science & World Affairs, www.pugwash.org
A central main objective of Pugwash is the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological) and of war as a social institution to settle international disputes. To that extent, peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and mutual understanding is an essential part of Pugwash activities, that is particularly relevant when and where nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are deployed or could be used.
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom www.wilpf.org
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is the oldest women’s peace organization in the world. Its aims and principles include working toward world peace; total and universal disarmament; the abolition of violence and coercion in the settlement of conflict and their substitution in every case of negotiation and conciliation; the strengthening of the United Nations system; the continuous development and implementation of international law; political and social equality and economic equity; co-operation among all people; and an environmentally sustainable development.
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Press Briefing to mark the campaign’s launch
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ
(Closest tube stations: Paddington, Edgware Road and Lancaster Gate)
At the press briefing, the campaign’s founders will outline their concerns with fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots.” The new global coalition seeks a ban on these weapons that would be able to select targets and use lethal force without human intervention. The campaign’s call to action, composition, and initial activities will be explained and all your questions answered…
- Ms. Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate and Chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative
- Prof. Noel Sharkey, Chair of the International Committee on Robot Arms Control
- Steve Goose, Director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch
To confirm your participation or to schedule an interview, please contact:
- UK media – Laura Boillot, Article 36, +44(0)7515-575-175, firstname.lastname@example.org
- International media – Kate Castenson, Human Rights Watch, +1 (202) 612-4351 or +1-646-203-8292 (mobile), email@example.com
- Canadian media – Erin Hunt, +1 (613) 241-3777, firstname.lastname@example.org or in London, Paul Hannon, +1 (613) 951-5430 (mobile) or email@example.com
- Raw interview footage of Williams, Sharkey, Goose, and Docherty: http://multimedia.hrw.org/distribute/hpgicavqly
- Playlist of precursors to fully autonomous weapons: http://bit.ly/YQe4w8
Social media information
- Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/#!/stopkillerrobots
- Twitter – @BanKillerRobots
- Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/people/stopkillerrobots
- YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/StopKillerRobots
For more information
- Human Rights Watch, “Losing Humanity” report: http://bit.ly/UQscFA