Sri Lanka said that it supports the establishment of a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) in 2017, within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and to elevate the dialogue on LAWS to a State –driven formal process.
Addressing the 5th Review Conference of the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) on Monday (12th December) Mrs. Mafusa Lafir, Second Secretary of the Sri Lanka Mission in Geneva and Sri Lanka’s delegate to the Session said that despite the assurance given by many key countries that fully autonomous weapons would not be developed, given precursors for such weapons are already in existence, the international community has raised legitimate concerns that failure to take pre-emptive actions at this point carries the risk of such weapons being developed in the future. She further added that this particular concern of the international community provides the rationale behind the call for a pre-emptive ban on LAWS, before these weapons change the current nature of conflicts by removing the human control from the command and operation of weapons. She further said that a GGE could be mandated to discuss issues such as the definition of LAWS, understanding on existing systems to agree on the limits need to be set regarding the autonomy in weapons, and to address the challenges of compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL). During the session, Sri Lanka also stressed that the GGEshould also engage on securing the rights for States to continue to have unhindered access to the dual use autonomous technology for peaceful purposes, given the benefits it could offer for the mankind.
A call for an establishment of a GGE was a result of the recommendation made by the Informal Meeting of Experts held in April 2016, for which the mandate was given by the 2015 Meeting of High Contracting Parties to the CCW presided by Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Geneva.
LAWS also commonly known as 'Killer Robots', is being broadly categorized as an emerging type of autonomous technology with potential use in lethal weapons systems, that will once activated, have the ability to select, engage, and use force at targets, without any human intervention. Following three years of informal expert meetings on LAWS and a dedicated session at the 2015 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW, States and civil society called for a formal discussion on LAWS within the framework of the CCW, to establish pre-emptive action on development and deployment of these weapons systems, with a future prospect for a legally binding protocol to the CCW.
Earlier on Monday (12th December), Ms. Shashika Somaratne, Chargé d'Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva, opened the 5th Review Conference of the CCW, on behalf of the Chairperson of the 2015 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinhaand handed over the presidency to Ambassador Tehmina Janjua of Pakistan. The Review Conference is being held from 12 – 16 December 2016 in Geneva.
The CCW restricts or prohibits conventional weapons that have been deemed excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects. Review Conferences of the CCW is being held every five years, to review the implementation of the Convention as well as to make decisions to strengthen it, taking into account the developments in the field of conventional weapons. The ongoing 5thReview Conference is expected to make decision by consensus to establish a GGE on LAWS for 2017.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka