13 April 2015, Vol. 2, No. 1

Editorial: A chance to put humanity first
Ray Acheson | Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

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Today the CCW begins its second dedicated meeting on autonomous weapon systems. As it did last year, this gathering will provide an opportunity for states to consider crucial issues related to the technical, legal, moral, and ethical dimensions of weapons that can kill without human intervention. Delegations must make the most of this chance to explore the parameters of meaningful human control over every individual attack. They must evaluate the lawfulness and morality of future autonomous weapons. And they will need to take steps to address this issue concretely, preferably through agreeing to negotiate a treaty to prohibit autonomous weapons.

In two weeks, WILPF will celebrate its 100th anniversary. For 100 years, we have worked to prevent the development of violent technologies and called instead for the development of norms, principles, practices, and institutions of peace and justice.

As a member organisation of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, WILPF is gravely concerned at the possibility of weapons that may operate without meaningful human control. As the oldest women’s peace organisation in the world, WILPF promotes non-military and nonviolent solutions to resolve disputes. But there is something especially cynically abhorrent in the idea of human beings assigning the killing of other human beings to a technological creation. The taking of life requires accountability, human accountability, for our actions, determined by morality and law. Without that we shirk our responsibilities and betray our common humanity.

Thus, at this meeting on autonomous weapons, we encourage states to:

  • Affirm that meaningful human control must be exercised over all weapons and every individual attack or use of force;
  • Explain how such control is exercised over existing weapon systems and how human control is defined in relevant national policies;
  • Support the development of an international prohibition of weapon systems operating without meaningful human control; and
  • Call for work on this subject to continue at the multilateral level.

Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament programme of WILPF, will provide full coverage of the CCW proceedings through this daily report. It will provide analysis and advocacy, highlights from the expert discussions, and reports on side events. You can subscribe to receive this report by email by going to www.reachingcriticalwill.org. On that website, you can also find statements, documents, archived CCW Reports, and more information.

You can also follow the discussions on Twitter at #CCWUN, #KillerRobots, @RCW_, and @BanKillerRobots, among others. For information about the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, please see www.stopkillerrobots.org.

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