Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots was launched in London on April 22-23, 2013 with a series of events to brief activists, media, and parliamentarians.

A conference for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) held at the Human Rights Action Centre on Monday, April 22, was attended by about 65 campaigners from 30 NGOs. The majority were UK-based, but activists from Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the US also participated. The primary aim of the conference was to enable participants to find out more about the issue and campaign initiative, as well as strategize about the next steps for the campaign after its public launch. There were small group workshops to look at technical, legal, policy, ethical, moral and other concerns with fully autonomous lethal weapons.  There were also creative and engaging workshops to discuss means and methods of campaigning, including international outreach, national campaigning, research needs, and messaging and communications. The results of the conference are now being incorporated into a campaign-wide plan of action for the coming year. This short film made during the NGO Conference introduces the various NGOs participating in the campaign.

On the morning of Tuesday, April 23 the campaign held a news conference at the Frontline Club to brief media. The event attracted a strong turn-out and was accompanied by significant interest and coverage. This brief film of the press conference showcases the campaign’s principle spokespersons and its main messaging.

Following the news conference, media were invited to a visual action outside in Parliament Square with a friendly robot campaigner named “David Wreckham.” The talking robot handed out bumper stickers and attracted much interest from tourists and others walking through Parliament Square during the lunch hour. The action concluded with the delivery of a letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron from UK NGOs calling on the UK to elaborate its policy on fully autonomous weapons. If you’d like to see David Wreckham in action, here’s a clip from the campaign’s YouTube site.

Campaign representatives then spoke at a parliament event hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Weapons and Protection of Civilians and chaired by Martin Caton, MP. The briefing was attended by two members of the House of Lords, various other MPs and staff. During the discussion retired Admiral Lord West commented, “I find the idea of artificial intelligence doing targeting and weapon delivery quite abhorrent and I believe we need to do something to make that illegal globally and I think it is extremely dangerous.” Lord Toby Harris commented that it is important to distinguish between drones and fully autonomous weapons and emphasized, “The human element is key.” These signals of support are captured on film along with other highlights from the briefing. A summary of the briefing by the All Party Parliamentary Group is available here.

To coincide with the launch, Article 36 issued a paper on UK government policy on autonomous weapons and together with several UK-based NGOs sent a letter to UK Prime MInister David Cameron to ask the UK to support an international treaty to ban fully autonomous weapons and to make the UK policy on these weapons clear. Article 36 is one of the founding members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and was the first NGO to call for a ban on fully autonomous weapons. Article 36 serves on the Steering Committee of the campaign and organized the launch events in London on 22-23 April 2013.

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