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Stop Killer Robots: 180 NGOs call for an appeal against autonomous weapons

The coalition of human rights organizations Stop Killer Robots has launched a petition calling on the world’s governments to work to negotiate a global treaty against killer robots. The coalition is turning its attention to the group of government experts on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which will meet in Geneva on December 2 to decide on possible further talks.

On the occasion of this meeting, for example Support the petition for a ban on autonomous weapons on the Amnesty International website. The Stop Killer Robots initiative claims that 180 NGOs and universities from 66 countries belong to it, including Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and Pax Christi. They emphasize that so far 66 states have called for a legally binding framework for autonomous weapons systems. However, states such as Russia, Israel and the USA considered it premature to work out a new international agreement.

The Stop Killer Robots coalition went public in 2013, and in the same year Human Rights Watch called for a ban on killer robots for the first time. In 2015, numerous AI researchers and celebrities such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Noam Chomsky signed an open letter with this request, and last weekend AI and robotics researchers from Germany followed up.

The topic has been discussed at the United Nations since around 2014, but it wasn’t until November 2017 that government representatives formally met for the first time as an expert group within the CCW, also in response to the foundation of the Stop Killer Robots initiative. The German federal government advocates the regulation of autonomous weapon systems.

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons has so far been signed by 50 states and came into force on December 2, 1983. It bans or restricts the use of weapons that could cause unnecessary or unjustified suffering to fighters or indiscriminately hit civilians, such as mines or booby traps. In 1998, for example, blinding laser weapons were added to the convention.


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