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.
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