On 1st November, the first-ever UN General Assembly resolution on autonomous weapons received 164 votes in favour, with 5 against and 8 abstentions. The resolution, tabled by Austria and co-sponsored by a cross-regional group of more than 40 states, stresses the ‘urgent need for the international community to address the challenges and concerns raised by autonomous weapons systems’, and mandates the UN Secretary-General to prepare a report, reflecting the views of member and observer states on autonomous weapons systems and ways to address the related challenges and concerns they raise from humanitarian, legal, security, technological and ethical perspectives and on the role of humans in the use of force. The resolution also adds a specific agenda item on ‘Lethal autonomous weapons systems’ to next year’s UN GA agenda.
As noted by Stop Killer Robots, after 10 years of discussions in the CCW, ‘the adoption of this resolution is a step forward, lighting a path towards a legal framework to ensure meaningful human control over the use of force. While it does not go far enough to call for negotiations, this resolution does build international confidence, and signals that urgent political action must be taken to safeguard against the serious risks posed by autonomous weapons systems.’
For more on discussion of autonomous weapons at this year’s UNGA First Committee, see Reaching Critical Will’s First Committee Monitor.
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