Delegates attend a meeting of the review conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Geneva Delegates attend a meeting of the review conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Geneva  (AFP or licensors)

Geneva: No agreement is reached in the fight against killer robots

At the close of the 6th Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), States renew a mandate after no decision was agreed upon.

By Vatican News staff writer

For eight years, governments around the world have argued that the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) is the appropriate forum to respond to the moral, ethical, humanitarian, security and legal risks that killer robots pose to the international community. The Sixth Review Conference of the CCW that ended on Friday in Geneva therefore marked a historic opportunity for states to take steps to safeguard humanity against autonomy in the use of force, and a watershed moment for the diplomatic process within this Convention.


Unsuccessful outcome

Unfortunately, recent diplomatic talks by the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) that had a mandate on this issue from the Convention have resulted in an extension of the mandate, with states unable to agree on a way forward despite the majority of countries calling for a new international law. The US, UK, India and Russia - countries that are already developing autonomous weapons - have been accused by critics of using the consensus rule to block any progress towards possible regulation. The International Committee of the Red Cross has also pointed out in recent weeks that the 'loss of human control and judgement in the use of force and the operation of weapons raises serious concerns from humanitarian, legal and ethical perspectives'.

Banning weapons

Pope Francis has often spoken out against the use of weapons, with one of his most striking speeches being made in Hiroshima, Japan, where he described the use of nuclear weapons as immoral. “It has never been clearer that, for peace to flourish, all people need to lay down the weapons of war, and especially the most powerful and destructive of weapons: nuclear arms that can cripple and destroy whole cities, whole countries".

18 December 2021, 14:37