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More than 30 countries sign up to draw legal red lines on killer robots

© Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

Reacting to the signing of a communiqué by more than 30 countries in Costa Rica calling for international legal controls on killer robots, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“The development of autonomy in weapons is accelerating, and the growing application of new Artificial Intelligence and machine learning technologies is a deeply worrying development.

“These machines risk automating killing, treating it as a technical undertaking which raises human rights risks as well as humanitarian, legal and ethical concerns.

“Autonomous machines will make life and death decisions without empathy or compassion.

“It has never been more urgent to draw legal red lines around the production and use of autonomous weapons systems to ensure we maintain meaningful human control over the use of force.

“Amnesty supports the call made by governments from Latin American and Caribbean countries for binding international legal controls on these weapons and welcomes the decision to work in alternative forums, beyond the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons where talks have stalled, to advance this new law.”

Endangering civilians

Autonomous weapon systems lack the ability to analyse the intentions behind people’s actions.

They cannot make complex decisions about distinction and proportionality, determine the necessity of an attack, refuse an illegal order, or potentially recognise an attempt to surrender, which are vital for compliance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

These new weapons technologies are at risk of further endangering civilians and civilian infrastructure in conflict.

Amnesty remains concerned about the potential human rights risks that increasing autonomy in policing and security equipment poses too, such as systems which use data and algorithms to predict crime.

Stop killer robots

The Regional Conference on the Social and Humanitarian Impact of Autonomous Weapons in San José, Costa Rica is the first of its kind and involved regional and observer governments, representatives of the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society.

Amnesty is a founding member of Stop Killer Robots, a global coalition of more than 160 organisations working to address autonomy in weapons systems.


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