On 7 October 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the human rights implications of new and emerging technologies in the military domain. The resolution acknowledges the need to study the human rights implications of such technologies, which includes autonomous weapon systems, and calls on the Human Rights Council advisory committee to prepare a study examining same.
Importantly, the resolution stresses the importance of human control over the use of force, and recognises ‘that the use of new and emerging technologies in the military domain some of which rely on inter alia data sets, algorithms-based programming and machine learning processes, may, in certain circumstances, cause, contribute to or facilitate the commission of human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law’. It also notes that such technologies bring risks of structural discrimination and bias, especially when reliant on ‘non-representative data sets, algorithm-based programming and machine-learning processes’.
The resolution is clear that states must ensure that ‘international human rights law is respected in the conception, design, development, deployment, evaluation and regulation of data-driven technologies’. Stop Killer Robots recently hosted an expert panel discussion on the threats posed by autonomous weapons to international human rights law.
This HRC resolution comes amid more than nine years of UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons’ discussions on the threats posed by autonomous weapons in the context of international humanitarian law, with the majority of states now supporting the negotiation of new rules.
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