Developments on Autonomous Weapons Systems Governance

For Just Security readers following the emerging debate on the legal governance of autonomous weapons systems (AWS), this month is very eventful with two noteworthy developments that will be of interest to readers.  First, on Monday of this week, the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) released its first report, an observation report from its fist meeting: Framing Discussions on the Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies (full text). As the report begins:

“There are currently discussions in a variety of national and international fora about autonomy and weapon systems. Yet governments are unsure of what they need to know in order to make responsible policy choices—and not all agree that specific policy is necessary. As these are early days in international, multilateral engagement on this issue, this paper seeks to help frame further dialogue on autonomy and weapon systems in a way that is both concise and relevant to policy-making, by helping direct attention to key issues and the areas of greatest concern.”

Second, next week, the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) is holding a Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons System, May 14-16 at the UN in Geneva.  A full agenda can be found here. The meeting will discuss

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.”

Just Security‘s Sarah Knuckey will be attending the CCW meeting in Geneva and blogging from the meeting, so stay tuned for further analysis and insights.

Also, for readers interested in learning more about autonomous weapons systems (AWS), be sure to check out our Editors’ Picks reading list on AWS and our book synopsis of Ronald Arkin’s influential work, Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots. 

About the Author(s)

Thomas Earnest

Former Managing Editor of Just Security (2013-14) Follow him on Twitter (@thomasdearnest).