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2016 in Review: States Agree to Formal Process on Killer Robots

December 22, 2016

States parties to the Fifth Review Conference of the Convention of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) decided to take another step forward in deliberations on lethal autonomous weapons, establishing a group of governmental experts (GGE) to meet for two weeks in 2017.

While it does not have a negotiating mandate itself, groups affiliated with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and at least 19 countries, will continue to push for the negotiation of a prohibition on autonomous weapons. Establishing a GGE was the minimum that states could do to address the challenges of this emerging weapons technology, but we will make the most of this opportunity.

What’s next?

The GGE on autonomous weapons will meet for one week in either April or August (depending on UN finances) and again on 13-17 November 2017. Past GGEs have led to negotiations of new CCW protocols. In 1995, nations at the CCW preemptively banned lasers that would permanently blind. WILPF will work with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to continue to try to prevent the development of weapons that operate without meaningful human control. We have a very narrow window to prevent the increased mechanisation of violence and warfare by banning these weapons now. WILPF will continue to monitor discussions and engage in advocacy with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and to publish on this subject as resources permit.

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