United Nations. Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. Statements Countries

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 was chaired by Ambassador Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel of France.



“…It is crucial, in our view, that any use of a weapon in armed conflict complies with international humanitarian law. Among roboticists and lawyers alike, there is serious doubt that autonomous weapons can ever be programmed in a way to guarantee this compliance. One further consideration: While in the case of a war crime perpetrated by a human actor legal responsibility can be, at least in principle, established, it is fundamentally unclear how to resolve the issue once the autonomous decision of a machine is at the root of the crime…”



Statement By H.E Ambasaddor Pedro Motta Pinto Coelho. Permanent Representative of Brazil to the Conference on Disarment CCW Informal Expert Meeting Lethal Autonomous Systems 13 May 2014

“…The increasing amount of money spent by governments and private sector in reserches in autonomus systems is an unequivocal indicate of a technological trend that cannot be ignored. Many military experts support the idea of usin this new technology in order to maximize the compliance with the IHL, reduce the number of human casualties (combatants and non-combatants) and decrease their military budgets. Other experts sustrain that the use of lethal autonomous systems would imply a “deshumanization of warfare”. They point out that ethical and moral standards require meaningfull human supervision of decisions to take life. They also emphasize that key issues must be urgently addressed, such as the level of automation we aim to achieve and what functions of these lethal systems should not be allowed to operate autonomously...”



Opening Statement of the Republic of Croatia. CCW Informal Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. Geneva 13 May 2014

“…CCW was always seen as a forum for open-minded discussions and exchange of views on disarmameny issues at the multilateral level. Since we all agree that human suffering resultingg from an armed conflict cannot and must not leave the international community indifferent, we would like to call upon all High Contracting Parties to use this unique opportunity of having a number of globally renowned LAWS experts among us and to give their contribution in this week’s discussions…”


Czech Republic

“…If it has been quite difficult to keep a balance between humanitarian concerns and security requirements in the past, it will be even bigger challenge to strike it within the context of sophisticated autonomous weapons of the future. This is only one of the reasons why we think it is important to start work on the needs of protecting civilians and combatants from possible effects of LAWS well in advance before they will be developed. The Czech Republic, similarly as many other state parties to CCW, does not have a firm coordinated national position on or an approach towards many aspects of LAWS. Views that might be expressed in 2 national presentations, provided by our experts from the Czech Defense University will not represent a national position on any aspect of research, development or production or of future use of LAWS. Our hope is however, that we could start to build it on results of this meeting…”



“…El Ecuador considera inaceptable e inadmisible que decisiones fundamentales sobre la vida o muerte de los seres humanos sean asigndas a las armas letales autónomas. Los Estados debemos tomar acciones para prevenir la creación, desarrollo y detener las inversiones en el campo de las armas letales completamente autónomas, a través de normas y leyes nacionales que las prohíban y un protocolo internacional que prohiba su creación, desarrollo y uso…”



IStatement of the Arab Republic of Egypt at the Meeting of Experts on lethal autonomous weapons  13-16 May 2014. By: Ambassador Dr. Walid M. Abdelnasser Permanent  Representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Nations and other International Organization in Geneva  Geneva, May 13th, 2014

“…We hope that this informal meeting of experts on this issue works as an eye-opener on a very important and challenging development in the course of weaponry research and development and the relevant considerations in this regard, particularly with reference to the issue of the possible ramifications on the value of human lives, the calculation of the cost of war, as well as the possibility of the acquisition of this weapon by terrorist and organized crime networks. This should lead to a prohibition on acquisition, research and development, testing, deployment, transfer and use.
Until such result is achieved, we support calls to pose a moratorium on the development of such lethal technology in order to allow serious and meaningful international engagement with this issue. As military robotics gain more and more autonomy, the ethical questions involved will become even more complex. It might be too late after robotics have been fully developed to work on an appropriate response…”



Ministere Des Affaires Etrangeres. Convention sur Certaines Armes Classiques. Reunion informelle d’ experts sur les systemes d’armes létaux autonomes (SALA). Genéve, 13-16 mai 201r. Intervention Genérale.

“…A défaut de conclure sur tous les thémes qui seront discutés, nos devons au moins avoir pour ambition de rechercher une comprehension commune de ce que nous entendons par “systéme” d’arme létal autonome”. A cet égard deux elements semblent essentiels:

-nou parlons de tecnologies emergentes, en cours de developpment, et par consequent non encore utilisées dans des systemes d’armes existants;

-nous parlons de systemes autonomes, et non de systemes automatisés ou télé-óperes; ils impliquent donc une absence de supervision humaine. La délégation francaise reviendra plus en détail sur cette question dans ses interventions ultérieures”



CCW EXPERT MEETING LETHAL AUTONOMOUS WEAPON SYSTEMS Geneva, 13 – 16 May 2014 General Statement by Germany

“…We firmly believe that there should be a common understanding in the international community that it is indispensable to maintain meaningful human control over the decision to kill another human being. We cannot take humans out of the loop. We do believe that the principle of human control is already implicitly inherent to international humanitarian law which, as said before, remains our binding guiding line also with regard to new weapon systems. And we cannot see any reason why technological developments should all of a sudden suspend the validity of the principle of human control. Therefore, we suggest that in the discussion about the definition and legal evaluation of lethal autonomous weapon systems we should also talk about what we as an international community understand as meaningful human control and declare it an indispensable principle of international humanitarian law…”


Holy See

Statement by H.E Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi. Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneve at the meeting of Experts on Lethal autonomous weapons systems of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects 13 May 2014

“…For the Holy See the fundamental questions is the follolling: Can machines -well-programmed with highly sophisticated algorithms to make decisions on the battlefield which seek to comply with IHL-truly replace humans in decisions over life and death?

The answer is no. Humans must not be taken out of the loop over decisions regarding life and death for other human beings. Meaningful human intervention over such decisions must always be present…”



Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament. Statement by Ambassador D.B. Venkatesh Varma. Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament at the CCW Experts Meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. Geneva, May 13, 2014

“…We see current approaches as falling into two categories. The first is the view that a fresh look is needed on whether lethal autonomous weapon systems meet the criteria of international law and international humanitarian law, especially with regard to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and suggesting a preemptive ban on the research, production and use of LAWS or at least a moratorium until such time there is clarity on the overall implications. The other view is that there is a spectrum of autonomy inbuilt into existing weapons systems and that a prohibition on LAWS is either premature, unnecessary or unenforceable”



“I note that the press statement they issued yesterday focussed on the importance of ‘human control over the use of force’ and this seems to me to be a very sensible focus for these consultations and for whatever subsequent action we decide to take to build on these consultations. The definition of control, of course, is important in itself, in the context of ensuring that control is effective and not merely nominal”



CCW Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems Geneva (13-16 May). Statement by Ambassador Vinicio Mati. Permanent Representative of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament

“…We are convinced that the CCW has the merit to address not only the humanitarian concerns posed by existing weapons but also to prevent the development of new types of weapons that would be unacceptable under basic International Humanitarian Law principles. Therefore, we deem it very important that, within this framework, we will be abble to address new potential threats appearing on the horizon…”



Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament.Statement by H.E Ambassador Toshio SANO Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament  Experts Meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excesively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects 13 May 2014, Geneva

“…as we deal with the emerging technology of LAWS, we are facing a challenge of defining LAWS. Although an agreement on the definition at this informal meeting is not likely, we believe it is imperative to develop a common understanding about what we perceive as LAWS in order to advance discussions.

In this regard, I would like to point out that if consider LAWS as “fully” lethal autonomous weapons systems, which once activated, can effectively select and engage a target without human intervention, we believe, at this stage, it is questionable such autonomous weapons could comply with international humanitarian law, and therefore, should be highlighted in our discussion. Also, while we may continue researching and developing non-lethal autonomous technology for defense purposes, we are not convinced of the need to develop “fully” lethal autonomous weapon systems which is completely out control of human intervention”




“…Coincidimos, por ello, en la necesidad de observar el desarrollo de nuevas tecnologías de armas en el contexto del respeto al derechohumano a la vida,y expresamos nuestra preocupación por la aparición de sistemas de armas autónomas letales que tengan el poder de decidir arbitrariamente sobre la vida o la muerte de los seres humanos. Reafirmamos que los Estados tienen la obligación de proteger y defender el derecho humano a la vid, y esa obligación no puede delegarse bajo ninguna circunstancia.

Además, reconocemos la aplicabilidad, en esta materia, delos límites y obligaciones preventivas previstas en el derecho internacional humanitario….”


New Zeland

Informal Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. Statement by Joseph Ballard. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament 13 May 2014

“…Developments in the field of artificial intelligence hold considerable potential for impreving our lives. But, it is clear that, very importantly, they also offer the prespect of affecting the conduct of armed conflic and in doing so can present a number of benefits and risks. New Zealand, like many other High Contracting Parties, is beginning to consider the implications of these developments. Much will depend on how, collectively, we frame our discussions, on the definitions we use, and on the appropriate engagement of all relevant actors…”



CCW Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems 13-16 May 2014

“…Before launching an attack, a military commander is also requires to make a proportionality assessment between the incidetal harm which the attack may be expected to cause, and consider it against the military advantage anticipated. Launching an attack which may be expected to cause excessive incidental loss of civilian life or civilian objects is prohibited and must be halted or cancelled. An important question, is therefore whether a fully autonomous weapons could be programmed to make such a complicated analysis and judgement without human intervention?…”


Republic of Korea

“…I would also like to emphasize that the Republic ok Korea continues to pay due attention to ethical considerations surrounding the use of robot systems for civil and military purposes. Korea is working to enact an ethics charter on the commercial service of robotic technology in accordance with the National Plan on Intelligent Robots. I expect the charter to contain provision on ethical values and the code of conduct regarding the development, manufacture and use of robots…”


South Africa

CCW State ment by South Africa at the Meetin of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Sistems (LAWS), Geneva, Switzerland 2014.

“…The development of LAWS poses serious questions and there are many issues on which clarity is required. This includes definitional certainty as to the notion of autonomous and semi-autonomous weapons systems. While fully autonomous weapon systems are not being used currently, the future use of such weapon systems raises a whole range of issues to be considered. Of primary concem to my delegation are the humanitarian implications of their use and related ethical considerations. One of the key questions, in this regard thar should be of concern to all of us is whether these new technologies of warfare would be compliant with the rules of International Humanitarian Law, including those of distinction, proportionality and military necessity, as well as their potential impact on human rights.



Intervención de la Delegación Española Renión de Expertos sobre Sistemas de Armas Autónomos Letales, Ginebra, 13 de mayo de 2014

“…Creemos por ello que toda regulación futura debe pasar, de manera ineludible, por una fase previa de reflexión y definición, lo que, en el caso de las tecnologías emergentes, entraña una especial dificultad. Por la misma razón, veríamos como algo prematuro cualquier propuesta de moratoria sin antes definir, que califican este tipo de sistemas, plantean no pocos interrogantes…”



Remasks by Sweden at the Expert Meeting on LAWS in the CCW on 13-05-2014 (General Debate)

“…while it is true that many systems with various degrees of automation are being used or developed by states, it is not clear to us that this entails a move toward systems that would give full combat autonomy to machines…

A difficult issue is the threshold at which a weapon should be considered ‘autonomous’. Machine automation/autonomy exists on a continuum. An autonomous weapon implies one that is fully outside the control of a human. We very much doubt that this is a desirable development for a military forces. As a starting point, Sweden believes that when it comes to decisions on the use of fore against persons, human should never be “out of the loop…”



“…En premier lieu, une meilleure compréhension des développements technologiques liés à ces nouveaux systèmes est nécessaire….Les concepts tels que l’autonomie et l’étendue du spectre entre automatisation et autonomie doivent être clarifiés. Il serait intéressant d’utiliser des exemples concrets afin de déterminer les usages désirables, légaux et acceptables de systèmes aux fonctions autonomes, ainsi que d’identifier avec précision quels aspects des armes autonomes soulèvent des préoccupations. Une question centrale doit être posée, à savoir la capacité des machines à comprendre pleinement l’environnement dans lequel elles évoluent, à évaluer les risques ou à réaliser les évaluations qualitatives requises par le Droit International Humanitaire (DIH). D’autres questions tout autant critiques devront être traitées, comme l’utilisation civile de ces technologies et leur possibilité de double usage.

Deuxièmement, nous devons prendre en compte la dimension éthique de la ilitarisation de technologies de plus en plus autonomes. Il parait évident que le potentiel développement et emploi de systèmes d’armes létaux autonomes, à même de sélectionner et d’attaquer des cibles sans contrôle humain effectif (ou « meaningful human control »), soulèvent d’importantes préoccupations éthiques.

En troisième lieu, la question doit être approchée au niveau militaire et opérationnel. Nous devons identifier l’origine de l’intérêt militaire pour ces technologies, l’ampleur des avantages qui en sont attendus et les risques qui en découlent…”


United Kingdom

“…The subject of autonomous weapons systems is a complex one, and it is very useful for all concerned to have the opportunity here to depen understanding of the key themes. The agenda which France ahs prepared certainly includes consideration of the most relevant issues…”


United States

“…First, this important discussion is just beginning and we believe considerable work still needs to be to establish a common baseline of understanding among states. Too often, the phrase “lethal autonomous weapons systems” appears still to evoke the idea of a humanoid machine independently selecting targets for engagement and operating in a dynamic and complex urban environment

Second, it follows from the fact that we are  indeed at such an early stage or our discussions that the United States believes it is premature to determine where these discussions might or should lead. In our view, it is enough for now for us collectively to acknowledge the value in discussing lethal autonomous weapons systems in the CCW, a forum focused on international humanitarian law, which is the relevant framework for this discussion.

Third, we must bear in mind the complex and multifaceted nature of this issue…”


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