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With the Convention on Conventional Weapons high contracting parties meeting this week to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems, Mines Action Canada has released an updated memo to delegates on CCW Protocol IV which pre-emptively banned blinding laser weapons.
Please down load the Updated Protocol IV Memo.
Mines Action Canada delivered an opening statement at the Convention on Conventional this afternoon. The text of the statement is available online here.
Opening Statement – Convention on Conventional Weapons 13 April 2015
Thank you Mr.Chair. 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 impact of indiscriminate weapons for over twenty years. For years we have worked with partners around the world including here at the CCW to respond to the global crisis caused by landmines and cluster munitions. We have seen that the international community can come together to respond to a humanitarian catastrophe and can create international humanitarian law to protect civilians often after the fact due to the changing nature of conflict and technological advances. However, we are here today in an attempt to look forward. We are looking at future weapons that will require new legal instruments to prevent future catastrophes. Throughout this week I hope we will keep my grandmother’s advice in mind: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
As a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, Mines Action Canada is very conscious of public opinion concerning autonomous weapons systems. Since last year’s discussions here at the CCW, opposition to autonomous weapons systems has grown in Canada. In addition to our member organizations, academics, parliamentarians, industry, faith communities and members of the general public have expressed concern about the potential humanitarian impacts of autonomous weapons systems. The widespread opposition to this technology indicates that there may be negative consequences for robotics more generally should autonomous weapons systems be used in armed conflict or in other circumstances. The erosion of public trust in robotic systems and autonomy as a result of the use of autonomous weapons systems could severely limit our ability to harness the good that robotics could do for humanity.
In addition to these concerns about the impact on public trust in robotics, we have numerous legal, moral, ethical, technical, military, political and humanitarian concerns about autonomous weapons systems which have led to the conclusion that new international humanitarian law is needed to ensure meaningful human control over these and other weapons. There is a moral imperative to consider the long term effects of the development and deployment of autonomous weapons systems on human society. Proponents of these technologies cite possible battlefield benefits and yet a discussion only dealing with short term or battlefield effects is not enough. We must ask the difficult questions: is it acceptable to cede decisions over life and death in conflict to machines? Who would be accountable for autonomous weapons systems? How can IHL adapt when new technology blurs the line between combatant and weapon?
IHL has demonstrated an ability to adapt and evolve to prevent the development and deployment of new and unnecessarily harmful technology. CCW Protocol IV banning blinding laser weapons is a good example which demonstrates that not only is there a need to add to IHL to address new technology, but also that we can prevent the development and use of weapons before their unacceptable humanitarian consequences create a catastrophe. We have published a memo to delegates which further explores the lessons learned from Protocol IV.
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 deserve a serious and in-depth discussion. We hope that this week will see attempts to define meaningful human control and will foster a strong desire to pursue discussions towards a new legal instrument that places meaningful human control at the centre all decisions to use violent force.
Mines Action Canada is offering the Keep Killer Robots Fiction t-shirt for a limited time only. Campaign supporters can purchase this Keep Killer Robots Fiction t-shirt through TeeSpring until March 30, 2015. The Keep Killer Robots Fiction t-shirt is available in three styles: unisex (S-5XL), women’s fitted (S-2XL) and children’s (S-XL). These t-shirts can be shipped almost anywhere in the world.
The proceeds from the sales of this limited edition t-shirt supports Mines Action Canada’s advocacy work on autonomous weapons systems. You can purchase your t-shirt by visiting TeeSpring’s safe and secure site: http://teespring.com/keepkillerrobotsfiction.
The Keep Killer Robots Fiction t-shirt is available for a limited time only. Order before March 30 to ensure you don’t miss out!
Help us keep autonomous weapons systems off the battlefield and keep killer robots fiction!
Are you worried about how to hold autonomous weapons accountable? We are too. Check out the new video on this topic!
With states and experts converging on Geneva this week for the first international talks about killer robots, Mines Action Canada has released a new memorandum to Convention on Conventional Weapons delegates.
The memo shares lessons learnt from the process that resulted in Protocol IV on Blinding Laser Weapons which was a pre-emptive ban on a weapon due to humanitarian concerns. Protocol IV shows that pre-emptive bans (like the one called for by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots) are possible under the Convention on Conventional Weapons. Download the Protocol IV Memo now.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has reviewed the newly released movie RoboCop and its messages about killer robots. We thought you might be interested in the results. Check out the review online at: http://www.stopkillerrobots.org/2014/02/robocop/ but be warned there are some spoilers.
If you would prefer to check out the movie yourself, let us know what you think in the comments section. Help us keep killer robots on the screen and off the street by signing and sharing our Keep Killer Robots Fiction petition!