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Sunday, July 14, 2024

UN SG, ICRC prez call for urgent ban on autonomous weapon systems


 UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Mirjana Spoljaric, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on Thursday called on leaders to establish new international rules to prohibit and restrict the use of autonomous weapon systems to “protect humanity,” the United Nations said.

“Today we are joining our voices to address an urgent humanitarian priority.

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) call on States to establish specific prohibitions and restrictions on autonomous weapon systems, to shield present and future generations from the consequences of their use.

In the current security landscape, setting clear international red lines will benefit all States,” the UN said in a statement.

Specifically, Guterres and Spoljaric call on “world leaders to launch negotiations of a new legally binding instrument to set clear prohibitions and restrictions on autonomous weapon systems and to conclude such negotiations by 2026” and urge member states to “take decisive action now to protect humanity.”

The UN added that the development and proliferation of autonomous weapon systems — systems that can target and apply force against targets without human intervention — pose “serious humanitarian, legal, ethical and security concerns,” and have “the potential to significantly change the way wars are fought” and “contribute to global instability and heightened international tensions.”

“We must act now to preserve human control over the use of force.

Human control must be retained in life and death decisions.

The autonomous targeting of humans by machines is a moral line that we must not cross.

Machines with the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement should be prohibited by international law,” the statement said.

The UN also added that increasing availability and accessibility of new technologies, such as in robotics and artificial intelligence that could be integrated into these systems, raising concerns among the organizations, as well as scientists and industry leaders developing these technologies.

“This means prohibiting autonomous weapon systems which function in such a way that their effects cannot be predicted. For example, allowing autonomous weapons to be controlled by machine learning algorithms – fundamentally unpredictable software which writes itself – is an unacceptably dangerous proposition,” the statement read.

The UN also said that clear restrictions — including limiting where, when and for how long the systems are used, the types of targets they attack and the scale of the force used — are required for “all other types of autonomous weapons” to ensure compliance with “international law and ethical acceptability.”

The UN also called for ensuring the ability “for effective human supervision” and “timely intervention and deactivation.”


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