United Nations. Convention on Conventional Weapons Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS)

The CCW Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) will take place from 13 to 16 May 2014 at the United Nations in Geneva.

At the 2013 CCW Meeting of High Contracting Parties, a new mandate on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) was agreed on. The mandate states:

“…Chairperson will convene in 2014 a four-day informal Meeting of Experts, from 13 to 16 May 2014, to discuss the questions related to emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems, in the context of the objectives and purposes of the Convention. He will, under his own responsibility, submit a report to the 2014 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention, objectively reflecting the discussions held.”

The Meeting of Experts will be chaired by Ambassador Jean-Hugues Simon- Michel of France. The formal letter of invitation to the Meeting of Experts on LAWS is available in both English and French.

The Provisional Agenda for the Meeting of Experts is now available.

Guidance on registering for the Meeting of Experts is attached here.

Meeting of Experts – Debate on the pros and cons of lethal autonomous weapons systems, Tuesday 13 May, afternoon session, Conference Room XIX

The Meeting of Experts will include a debate between two leading robotics experts – Professor Ronald Arkin and Professor Noel Sharkey.
In preparation for this debate, the following articles by Professor Arkin and Sharkey are available:
Arkin, Ronald – Lethal Autonomous Systems and the Plight of the Non-combatant
Sharkey, Noel – The evitability of autonomous robots warfare Sharkey, Noel – Towards a principle for the human supervisory control of robot weapons


The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
Potentially LAWS could identify and attack a target without human intervention. This issue was first brought to the international community’s attention by Human Rights Watch in its report titled “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots as part of its advocacy on LAWS produced this short film explaining the background to LAWS and work being undertaken within the United Nations and civil society. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots will be attending the Meeting of Experts. Attached here is a list of their experts. Also during the Meeting of Experts the Campaign will be hosting four side events.


Background information on LAWS
LAWS is a very new issue. Below are articles on LAWS that may be useful to delegations:


American Society of International Law – Panel on Autonomous Weaponry and Armed Conflict





Marchant, Gary; Allenby, Braden; Arkin, Ronald; Barrett, Edward; Borenstein, Jason; Gaudet, Lyn; Kitterie, Orde; Lin, Patrick; Lucas, George; O’Meara, Richard; and Silberman, Jared – International Governance of Autonomous Military Robots (from The Colombia, Science and Technology Law Review)


Marsh, Nicholas (2014) Defining the Scope of Autonomy,


PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO. Lin, Ptrick; Bekey, George; and Abney, Keith – Autonomous Military Robotics: Risk, Ethics, and Design




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