Press Releases

Canadian Robotics Firm Takes Stand against Killer Robots

Clearpath Robotics is World’s First Robotics Company to Pledge to Not Make “Killer Robots”

(Ottawa, August 13, 2014) – Today, Clearpath Robotics, a robotics firm based in Kitchener, Ontario, announced a world leading policy to “not manufacture weaponized robots that remove humans from the loop” and pledged their support for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. In an open letter, Ryan Gariepy, Co-Founder and CTO, writes that “[d]espite our continued involvement with Canadian and international military research and development, Clearpath Robotics believes that the development of killer robots is unwise, unethical, and should be banned on an international scale.”

As a co-founder and the Canadian representatives of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, Mines Action Canada welcomes Clearpath Robotics’ decision and applauds their staff for their thoughtful and courageous stance on this issue.  “Clearpath Robotics has set the ethical standard for robotics companies around the world.  Their pledge to not manufacture autonomous weapons systems demonstrates clearly that research and development into autonomous robots and military robots does not require the creation of ‘killer robots’ and that there are many applications of autonomous robotics that can benefit humanity,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines Action Canada. “As Canadian, I am proud that a Canadian company was the first in the world to pledge to not manufacture killer robots.”

As the international community is scheduled to discuss autonomous weapons systems at the United Nations again this fall, Mines Action Canada strongly supports Clearpath Robotics’ pledge and we join them in encouraging “those who might see business opportunities in this technology to seek other ways to apply their skills and resources for the betterment of humankind.” We look forward to similar statements from other robotics companies in Canada and around the world.  Members of the public who share Clearpath Robotics’ views can sign the Keep Killer Robots Fiction petition at http://bit.ly/KRpetition while individual roboticists and scientists can join the International Committee for Robot Arms Control’s Scientists’ Call online at: http://icrac.net/call/.

– 30 –

 

Media Contacts:  Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines Action Canada, + 1 613 241-3777 or paul@minesactioncanada.org, @PCHannon

 

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots believes that humans should not delegate the responsibility of making decisions about violent force to machines. The Campaign is led by a Steering Committee of five international non-governmental organizations (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 that work internationally: Article 36 (UK), Association for Aid and Relief Japan, Mines Action Canada, and PAX (The Netherlands). The campaign’s worldwide network of civil society contacts 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.  To learn more visit www.stopkillerrobots.ca.


 

Time for international action on killer robots

Convention on Conventional Weapons experts meet on May 13-16

(Ottawa, 12 May 2014) – Nations should commit to begin drafting new international law to stop the development of fully autonomous weapons or “killer robots,” said the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots today on the eve of the first multilateral talks on the issue. These are weapons that, once activated, would select and engage targets without human intervention.

The four-day Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting of experts to discuss questions concerning “lethal autonomous weapons systems” opens at the United Nations in Geneva tomorrow (Tuesday, 13 May).

“Talking about the problems posed by these future weapons is a good place to start, but a ban needs to be put in place urgently if we are to avoid a future where compassionless robots decide who to kill on the battlefield,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, a founding member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

Today, 20 Nobel Peace laureates including Williams issued a joint statement expressing their support for the objective of a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons. The signatories include 14 individual recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize and six organizations. According to the joint statement, “Lethal robots would completely and forever change the face of war and likely spawn a new arms race.  Can humanity afford to follow such a path?”

Also today, Mines Action Canada released a memorandum to delegates “Lessons from Protocol IV on Blinding Laser Weapons for the Current Discussions about Autonomous Weapons”which clearly describes the precedent set by the pre-emptive ban on blinding laser weapons in Protocol IV of the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

“Fully autonomous weapons would threaten fundamental rights and principles, such as the right to life and the principle of dignity,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director at Mines Action Canada, a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “Governments need to say no to these weapons for any purpose and preemptively ban them now, before it is too late.”

Fully autonomous weapons do not yet exist, but several robotic systems with various degrees of autonomy and lethality are currently in use by the US, China, Russia, Israel, South Korea, and the UK, and these and other nations are moving toward ever-greater autonomy in weapons systems.

Since the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots launched in April 2013, the topic of fully autonomous weapons has gone from an obscure, little known issue to one that is commanding international attention. All of the 44 nations that have made public statements to date have expressed interest and concern at the challenges and dangers posed by these weapons. No government opposed the decision taken on 15 November 2013 to begin discussing questions about the weapons in 2014 in the framework of the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots supports any action to urgently address fully autonomous weapons in any forum and it welcomed the agreement to work in the CCW.  The CCW’s 1995 protocol banning blinding lasers is a pertinent example of a weapon being preemptively banned before it was ever fielded or used.

“For years we have been urging that governments take action to ensure that machines are never permitted to select targets and use force without meaningful human control,” said Professor Noel Sharkey, Chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), an NGO established by concerned engineers, computing and artificial intelligence experts, roboticists, and professionals from related disciplines in 2009.

A co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, ICRAC released a statement in October 2013 endorsed by 272 experts in 37 countries including Canada that calls for a ban on the development and deployment of weapon systems that make the decision to apply violent force autonomously, without any human control.

Mines Action Canada has launched a public initiative to Keep Killer Robots Fiction. “Canadians are familiar with the idea of killer robots from comic books, movies and novels but the reality is that these weapons will bring about dramatic changes in how war is fought,” said Erin Hunt, Mines Action Canada’s Program Officer. “Fully autonomous weapons should stay on the screen and not on the battlefield.  It is time for Canada to take on a leadership role to keep killer robots fiction.”

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a global coalition of 51 non-governmental organizations active in two dozen countries that calls for a preemptive ban on the development, production, and use of weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without human intervention. This prohibition should be achieved through an international treaty, as well as through national laws and other measures, to enshrine the principle that decisions to use violent force against a human being must always be made by a human being.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is led by a Steering Committee of five international non-governmental organizations (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 that work internationally: Article 36 (UK), Association for Aid and Relief Japan, Mines Action Canada, and PAX, formerly IKV Pax Christi (The Netherlands). The campaign delegation to the CCW meeting is comprised of 40 experts from member NGOs in 12 countries.

Representatives from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots will present their concerns about fully autonomous weapons at daily side events at the United Nations in Geneva on 13-16 May 2013.

For questions or to schedule a media interview in Ottawa, please contact:

For questions or to schedule a media interview in Geneva, please contact:

For more information, see:

Contact information for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots:

Canadian Leadership Needed on “Killer Robots”

Mines Action Canada Launches Call to Ban Fully Autonomous Weapons

(April 28, 2014 – Ottawa) Canada should support new international law to pre-emptive ban fully autonomous weapons of “killer robots” said Mines Action Canada today as it launched an effort to address the weapons. They were joined by experts from the global Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a new an international coalition of concerned civil society groups.

“Fully autonomous weapons could fundamentally alter the nature of armed conflict so we are calling on the Government of Canada to take action now to ensure that international law and human law is strengthened and future-proofed against these technological developments,” said Erin Hunt, Program Officer, Mines Action Canada. “Only a pre-emptive ban can protect civilians and prevent possible disaster.”

Mines Action Canada is a co-founder and a member of the leadership of the global Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an coalition of more than 50 non-governmental organizations in two dozen countries that was launched in April 2013.  The campaign is calling for a comprehensive ban on the development, production and use of autonomous weapons that select and attack targets without any human intervention. This prohibition should be achieved through an international treaty, as well as through national laws and other measures, to enshrine the principle that there must always be meaningful and accountable human control over decisions to use violent force against a human being.

Canadians are familiar with the idea of “killer robots” from science fiction films and comic books, but few realize that countries are beginning to work on creating these terrifying devices. Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles or drones has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges.  While unmanned armed vehicles have a pilot at the controls making decisions over targeting and decisions to use force, fully autonomous weapons would remove the human from the decision-making process.

International attention to the issue has intensified since Human Rights Watch issued its “Losing Humanity” report in November 2012, looking at the challenges fully autonomous weapons would pose to the protection of civilians and rule of law. A report issued by a UN special rapporteur in April 2013, described technical, legal, ethical, moral, and other concerns with fully autonomous weapons and called for an immediate moratorium on the weapons.  Both reports state that robots with full lethal autonomy have not yet been developed, but cite research underway in countries including the US, China, Israel, South Korea, Russia, and UK.

“Allowing machines to determine who should live or die in a conflict is an issue that concerns all states.  The United States has articulated its policy on fully autonomous weapons, but we need more countries to develop national policy on this emerging topic of international concern, including Canada.” said Peter Asaro, Co-Chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. “Scientists, roboticists and academics from across Canada know that autonomous robots could benefit humanity greatly, but there’s increasing concern that a line be drawn to ensure that robots are never weaponized.”

Representatives from more than 100 nations—including Canada—are gathering at the United Nations in Geneva next month together with campaigners to discuss questions relating to the emerging technology of “lethal autonomous weapons systems.”  Mines Action Canada encourages the government to take an active role in the Convention on Conventional Weapons experts meeting and a leadership role over the longer-term.

“We need to act now to begin the process of creating new law to ensure that the rapid technological development of weapons does not cross moral and ethical lines or endanger innocent civilians,” said Ian Kerr, University of Ottawa Professor and Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology. “It is time for Canada and Canadians to take action.”

“Through Canada’s leadership on the landmine issue, we learned that the international community cannot afford to wait until we have another global castrophe to deal with problematic weapon systems.  Pre-emptive action will prevent a dramatic change in the nature of warfare and the resulting humanitarian disaster,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada.  “Canadians are uniquely positioned to take on a leadership role in efforts to ensure that humans always have meaningful control over life and death decisions in conflict.”

This week’s events are the first steps towards a national conversation in Canada about how the world should respond to the possibility of autonomous weapons. Mines Action Canada has created an online petition to Keep Killer Robots Fiction, which calls on the Government of Canada to immediately prohibit the development and deployment of fully autonomous weapons (killer robots) in Canada and to support efforts to create a pre-emptive global ban on the technology.  The petition can be found online and through the Take Action page on our website www.stopkillerrobots.ca.

– 30 –

Media Contact:  Erin Hunt, Program Officer, Mines Action Canada, + 1 613 241-3777 (office), + 1 613 302-3088 (mobile) or erin@minesactioncanada.org.

Experts Available for Interviews:

Peter Asaro – The New School for Public Engagement, Co-Founder and Vice-Chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (New York, NY)

Paul Hannon – Executive Director, Mines Action Canada (Ottawa, ON)

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)

Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots believes that humans should not delegate the responsibility of making decisions about violent force to machines. The campaign’s worldwide network of civil society organizations 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.  To learn more visit www.stopkillerrobots.org.

UN: Start International Talks on Killer Robots

Increasing calls for international action on fully autonomous weapons

 (New York, 21 October 2013) – All nations should agree to begin international talks aimed at preventing the creation of fully autonomous robot weapons that, once activated, would select and engage targets without human intervention, said the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots today at an event at the United Nations in New York.

Governments should never relinquish human control of targeting and attack decisions to machines,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, a founding member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “To prevent this method of warfare from ever coming into existence, nations need to start working on both national prohibitions and an international ban now.”

In recent months, fully autonomous weapons—also called “lethal autonomous robots” or “killer robots”—have gone from an obscure, little known issue, to one that is commanding the attention of many governments, international institutions, and civil society. Fully autonomous weapons do not yet exist, but several robotic systems with various degrees of autonomy and lethality are currently in use by the US, Israel, South Korea, and the UK, while other nations with high-tech militaries, such as China, and Russia, are believed to be moving toward systems that would give full combat autonomy to machines.

This year the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Professor Christof Heyns, issued a report calling on nations to institute an immediate moratorium on fully autonomous weapons. His report also suggested that a high-level panel consider the issue. At a UN Human Rights Council debate on the report on 29 May, more than two dozen countries spoke on the issue for the first time and all agreed that the prospect of fully autonomous weapons requires urgent international action.

Austria, Egypt, France, Pakistan and other nations called for international talks on fully autonomous weapons during the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York this month. France, as chair of the next meeting of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, has been consulting to solicit support for adding fully autonomous weapons to the convention’s program of work.

“Governments need to listen to the experts’ warnings and work with us to tackle this challenge together before it is too late,” said Professor Noel Sharkey, Chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), a founding member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “Without urgent action now, we may not be able to prevent the further development of autonomous robot weapons later.”

ICRAC has released a statement endorsed by 272 engineers, computing and artificial intelligence experts, roboticists, and professionals from related disciplines in 37 countries, including 14 experts based in Canada, that calls for a ban on the development and deployment of weapon systems that make the decision to apply violent force autonomously, without any human control. The scientists’ statement questions the notion that robot weapons could meet legal requirements for the use of force “given the absence of clear scientific evidence that robot weapons have, or are likely to have in the foreseeable future, the functionality required for accurate target identification, situational awareness or decisions regarding the proportional use of force.”

In discussions with government and military officials, scientists, and the general public, representatives of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots have encountered tremendous discomfort with the idea of allowing military robots to determine on their own if and when to use lethal force against a human being.

“Already we’re seeing an instinctive reaction from the public rejecting the notion of fully autonomous weapons and their views matter,” said Richard Moyes, managing partner at Article 36, a founding member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “While fully autonomous weapons are a concern of the future, existing technologies already press the boundaries of autonomy, demonstrating the urgent need to establish a legal obligation for meaningful human control of robot weapons.”

A June 2013 national representative survey of 1,000 Americans found that, of those with a view, two-thirds came out against fully autonomous weapons: 68 percent opposed the move toward these weapons (48 percent strongly), while 32 percent favored their development. Interestingly, active duty military personnel were among the strongest objectors—73 percent expressed opposition to fully autonomous weapons.  The Martens Clause, a provision of international law, requires that states take into account the “dictates of public conscience.” States should consider these kinds of public reactions to fully autonomous weapons when determining the public conscience.

“These weapons have the potential to greatly change how wars are fought and governments including Canada need to urgently develop comprehensive national policies which effectively address the problems these weapons will pose“ said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada, a founding member of the Campaign. “A key lesson learned from the Canadian led initiative to ban landmines is to not wait until problematic weapons have created a global crisis before taking action. This is an issue of concern to all Canadians and the time for action is now”, Hannon added.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is an international coalition of civil society groups launched in London on 23 April 2013. The campaign is calling on states to put in place a comprehensive ban on fully autonomous weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without any human intervention. This prohibition should be achieved through an international treaty, as well as through national laws and other measures, to enshrine the principle that decisions to use violent force against a human being must always be made by a human being.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is led by a Steering Committee of five international non-governmental organizations (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 that work internationally: Article 36 (UK), Association for Aid and Relief Japan, Mines Action Canada, and IKV Pax Christi (The Netherlands).

Representatives from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots will present their concerns about fully autonomous weapons at an event at the United Nations in New York on Monday, 21 October 2013.

For questions or to schedule a media interview, please contact:

For more information, see:

Contact information for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots:

-30-

Petition Launched to Keep Killer Robots Fiction 

(July 9, 2013 – Ottawa) Mines Action Canada is launching the new Keep Killer Robots Fiction initiative today with an online petition. The petition is the first action taken in Canada to support the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is an international coalition of civil society groups launched in London on 23 April 2013. Mines Action Canada is a co-founder and a member of the campaign’s Steering Committee.  The campaign is calling on states to put in place a comprehensive ban on fully autonomous weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without any human intervention. This prohibition should be achieved through an international treaty, as well as through national laws and other measures, to enshrine the principle that there must always be meaningful and accountable human control over decisions to use violent force against a human being.

Canadians are familiar with the idea of fully autonomous weapons or killer robots from science fiction, fantasy and comic books, but few people realize that countries are beginning the work needed to create these terrifying devices.  Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles or drones has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges.  While unmanned armed vehicles continue to have a pilot at the controls and making decisions in a remote location, fully autonomous weapons would remove the human from the decision making process.   A recent UN report on lethal autonomous robots noted that “robots with full lethal autonomy have not yet been deployed” yet there is a significant lack of transparency on their research and development in numerous countries around the world.

The Keep Killer Robots Fiction initiative is designed to help Canada and Canadians take the necessary actions to begin a conversation about how the Government of Canada should respond to this issue.   “Allowing machines to determine who should live or die in a conflict should be an issue that concerns all Canadians.  While other countries are developing national policies on fully autonomous weapons, Canada has thus far been silent,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada. “We need to act now to begin the process of creating national and international laws to ensure that the rapid technological development of weapons does not cross moral and ethical lines or endanger innocent civilians. It is time for Canada and Canadians to take action.”

The petition calls on the Government of Canada to immediately prohibit the development and deployment of fully autonomous weapons (killer robots) in Canada and to support efforts to create a pre-emptive global ban on the technology.  The petition can be found online and through the Take Action page on our website www.stopkillerrobots.ca.

– 30 –

Media Contact:  Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines Action Canada, + 1 613 241-377 or paul@minesactioncanada.org.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots believes that humans should not delegate the responsibility of making decisions about violent force to machines. The Campaign is led by a Steering Committee of five international non-governmental organizations (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 that work internationally: Article 36 (UK), Association for Aid and Relief Japan, Mines Action Canada, and IKV Pax Christi (The Netherlands). The campaign’s worldwide network of civil society contacts 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.  To learn more visit www.stopkillerrobots.ca.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

UN: Start Pursuing a Permanent Ban on Killer Robots

All states should implement UN report recommendations as first step towards ban

(Geneva, May 28, 2013) – All nations should heed the call by a UN Special Rapporteur to halt robotics weapons systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human, said the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots today. For the first time ever states will debate the challenges posed by these fully autonomous weapons or ‘killer robots’ at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva tomorrow [29 May].

“To avoid future harm states must take action now to stop the creation of weapons that would choose and fire on targets on their own without meaningful human supervision or control,” said Dr. Peter Asaro of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, a founding member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “As the UN report warns, ‘If left too long to its own devices, the matter will, quite literally, be taken out of human hands.’”

Professor Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has prepared a 22-page report on ‘lethal autonomous robotic weapons’ that will be delivered to the second session of the Human Rights Council on May 29. The Council will then consider how to action the report’s recommendations, including its call on nations to institute an immediate moratorium on these weapons and work for an international agreement that addresses the many concerns identified in the report.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is an international coalition of civil society groups launched in London on 23 April 2013. The campaign is calling on states to put in place a comprehensive ban on fully autonomous weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without any human intervention. This prohibition should be achieved through an international treaty, as well as through national laws and other measures, to enshrine the principle that decisions to use violent force against a human being must always be made by a human being.

“There are increasing moves towards autonomy on the battlefield and we need to draw a line now by prohibiting autonomous systems that would identify and attack targets without any human involvement,” said Mr. Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch, a founding member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “An international ban on fully autonomous weapons systems is urgently needed, as are strong national measures to permanently outlaw these weapons.”

Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles or drones has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges. The UN report considers that “robots with full lethal autonomy have not yet been deployed” despite the lack of transparency on their research and development.

“Allowing machines to determine who should live or die in a conflict should be an issue that concerns all Canadians, whether they are in the military, Parliament, or elsewhere” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada, a founding member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “We need to act now to ensure national and international laws ensure that the rapid technological development of weapons do not cross moral and ethical lines nor endanger innocent civilians”

The UN report lists several robotic systems with various degrees of autonomy and lethality that are currently in use by the US, Israel, South Korea, and the UK. Other nations with high-tech militaries, such as China, and Russia, are also believed to be moving toward systems that would give full combat autonomy to machines.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots urges all countries to consider and elaborate their policy on fully autonomous weapons, particularly with respect to the ethical, legal, policy, technical, and other concerns that have been raised in the UN report. It urges all countries to welcome the UN report and endorse its recommendations, including the call for a moratorium on lethal autonomous robotics. Implementing these recommendations should be seen as a first step towards a comprehensive international ban on fully autonomous weapons.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots believes that humans should not delegate the responsibility of making decisions about violent force to machines. It concurs with the multiple moral, legal, technical, and policy concerns with fully autonomous weapons that are expressed by the report. (See campaign’s Synopsis of the UN report)

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is led by a Steering Committee of five international non-governmental organizations (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 that work internationally: Article 36 (UK), Association for Aid and Relief Japan, Mines Action Canada, and IKV Pax Christi (The Netherlands). The campaign’s worldwide network of civil society contacts 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 UN Press Association in Geneva is hosting a press briefing for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots on May 28 at 12:00 in its library.

To schedule a media interview, please contact:

For more information, see:

Contact information for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots:

Steering Committee members

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.

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.

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. It has an active disarmament department which co-founded the Cluster Munitions Coalition, works on nuclear disarmament and is active (board) member on many other disarmament issues. In May 2011, 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.

#          #          #

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Urgent Action Needed to Ban Fully Autonomous Weapons

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:

To schedule a media interview (see list of spokespersons), please contact:

  • UK media – Laura Boillot at Article 36, +44(0)7515-575-175, laura@article36.org
  • International media – Kate Castenson at Human Rights Watch, +1 (646) 203-8292, castenk@hrw.org

Video Footage

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers

%d bloggers like this: