World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Geneva ICRC: Autonomous weapons: What role for humans?

ICRC News Release
12 May 2014

Geneva ICRC: Autonomous weapons: What role for humans?

Addressing a meeting of experts at the United Nations in Geneva this week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will urge governments to focus on the issue of human control over the use of force in their deliberations on autonomous weapons.

The four-day meeting, convened by States party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), will effectively set the stage for States to begin exploring the fundamental legal, ethical and societal issues raised by autonomous weapon systems. At the opening session tomorrow, Kathleen Lawand, head of the ICRC’s Arms Unit, will present highlights from a new ICRC summary report on the subject and lay out some of the key questions that States need to address.

"The development of autonomous weapon systems has profound implications for the future of warfare," said Ms Lawand. "The central issue is the potential absence of human control over the critical functions of identifying and attacking targets, including human targets. There is a sense of deep discomfort with the idea of allowing machines to make life-and-death decisions on the battlefield with little or no human involvement."

The ICRC is calling for new weapons with autonomous features to be subject to a thorough legal review to ensure they are capable of being used in accordance with international humanitarian law, something States are required to do for any new weapon.

The new summary report, published tomorrow, reflects discussions at an ICRC-hosted meeting on autonomous weapons in March this year, which brought together military and civilian experts from government and civil society. Interest in such weapons stems from the potential for increased military capability with reduced risk to the user’s soldiers.

However, major concerns persist over whether a fully autonomous weapon could make the complex, context-dependent judgements required by international humanitarian law. For instance, in the heat of battle, would an autonomous weapon be capable of distinguishing between a civilian and a combatant? Would it be capable of cancelling an attack that would have disproportionate incidental effects on civilians? "This represents a monumental programming challenge that may well prove impossible to achieve," added Ms Lawand.
Already today, weapon systems are fitted with autonomous features. However, the summary report underlines that as weapon systems become more autonomous they may become less predictable, raising doubts as to how they could be guaranteed to operate within the law.

The debate on autonomous weapons reaches far beyond legal and technical complexities, raising fundamental questions about the role of humans in taking lethal decisions in armed conflict. The decisive question may very well be whether such weapons are acceptable under the principles of humanity, and if so under what conditions.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Myanmar Election: UNICEF Urges Prioritisation Of Children

With 99 days to go before Myanmar elections, UNICEF urges candidates make children the clear winner More>>

Liberia Thousands Of Unregistered Children Born During Ebola Crisis

Thousands of unregistered children born in Liberia during Ebola crisis at risk of exploitation – UNICEF More>>

UN Refugee Agency Envoy Angelina Jolie Visits Myanmar

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt (left) in Myitkyina township, Kachin State, Myanmar, meeting with some of the 100,000 displaced people who currently live there. Photo: UNHCR/T.Stoddart More>>

As Health Needs Rise In Somalia, Funding Hits New Low

As health needs rise in Somalia, funding hits new low, cutting off 1.5 million from care – UN More>>

Need To End Violence Against Children In Conflict

‘We should be outraged’ more not being done to end violence against children in conflict – UNICEF chief More>>

On Mandela Day, UN Joins Call To Promote Community Service

Nelson Mandela, then Deputy President of the African National Congress of South Africa, raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/P. Sudhakaran More>>

Some $3.2 Billion Needed For Ebola Recovery Efforts

Some $3.2 billion needed for Ebola recovery efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – UN More>>

World Day: UN Spotlights Plight Of Vulnerable Populalations

Syrian refugees fleeing the fighting near the Syrian city of Kobani wait in a holding area before boarding buses in Turkey (September 2014). Photo: UNHCR /I. Prickett More>>

Afghanisatan: Direct Talks Between Government And Taliban

The United Nations Security Council has welcomed the recently held direct talks between Afghan Government and Taliban representatives as a step towards “peace and reconciliation” in the region. More>>

Eradicating World Hunger By 2030

Agriculture workers collect carrots on a farm in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Photo: World Bank/Maria Fleischmann More>>

Bangladesh: Flood Leads To UN Agency Providing Food Relief

Anwar Hossain unloads cartons of High Energy Biscuits from a pickup truck and transfers them to a distribution center in Kawar Khop union, Ramu upazila, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: WFP/Kamrul Mithon More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news