The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons, also known as killer robots. The resolution stresses the importance of preventing the development and production of such weapon systems and calls for the start of negotiations on an international treaty that would prohibit lethal autonomous weapon systems. The adoption of this resolution sends a strong message to maintain human control over weapons systems.
“The voice of the European Parliament is important in the international debate,” says PAX’s Daan Kayser. “Last month at the UN in Geneva it became clear that most European countries see the need for concrete measures to deal with the issue of lethal autonomous weapons. This resolution adds important momentum towards further steps to prevent their development and use.”
In 2014 the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a ban on the “development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention.” Today’s resolution builds on that, but is more detailed and explicit.
PAX is pleased that the new resolution refers to weapon systems which lack meaningful human control over the critical functions of selecting and attacking individual targets. This is also what the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, of which PAX is a Steering Committee member, has long called for. The resolution also elaborates on why these weapons should be banned. It underlines that lethal autonomous weapons have the potential to fundamentally change warfare by prompting an unprecedented and uncontrolled arms race. In addition, it states that these weapons raise fundamental ethical questions and that any use of these weapons raises key questions about the implementation of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law. It also underlines the fact that machines cannot make necessary human-like decisions, and that humans will remain accountable for decisions over life and death.
“This is a good resolution that sends a strong signal” says Daan Kayser. “Now it is important that European states take further steps at the UN in Geneva to implement this resolution.”
PAX and the EU
In cooperation with other NGO’s in the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, PAX is working towards an international ban on these weapons. In 2017, PAX published the report Keeping Control, presenting the positions on killer robots taken by European countries. In addition, we work with other European organizations and scientists to set-up local activities such as public debates and parliamentary meetings. PAX also wrote a briefing note for members of the European Parliament calling on them to support the resolution.