Structuring debate on autonomous weapons systems
Memorandum for delegates to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)
Geneva, 14-15 November 2013
Fully autonomous weapons systems have not yet been deployed and used. But several States Parties to the CCW, including China, Israel, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, may be developing capacities that would enable greater combat autonomy for machines. Action is therefore needed to promote a common understanding of what should be considered acceptable when it comes to using armed force by means of autonomous weapon systems, how such activities should be internationally regulated, and where the line should be drawn against unacceptable autonomous weapon systems, which should be subject to a pre-emptive ban.
Against the background of increasing interest in considering autonomous weapons systems (AWS) within the framework of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), this briefing paper identifies key areas for discussion and suggests ways of structuring the debate.