Brave New World: UN draft condemns proposed use of “Lethal autonomous robotics (LARs)”

Today we read that US Drone Strikes rise in Yemen and so does anger – Sheik Salem who had preached against the evils of al-Qaida, warning residents to stay away from the group’s fighters and their hard-line ideology was killed by drone.

It could get even worse

Many news outlets, including the Global Post, cover the new draft report for the U.N. Human Rights Commission posted online this week by author Christof Heyns, a South African professor of human rights law, calls for a worldwide moratorium on the “testing, production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use” of killer robots until an international conference can develop rules for their use. The draft may be read here: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A-HRC-23-47_en.pdf

US navy LAR                                        U.S. Navy’s X-47B prototype

In it, Heyns focuses on this new generation of weapons that choose their targets and execute them, concluding:

”Killer robots that can attack targets without any human input ‘should not have the power of life and death over human beings’ “ .               

Professor Heyns’ findings are due to be debated at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 29

The United States, Britain, Israel, South Korea and Japan are said to have developed various types of fully or semi-autonomous weapons.

He notes the (specious?) arguments of robot proponents:

  • that death-dealing autonomous weapons “will not be susceptible to some of the human shortcomings that may undermine the protection of life.
  • Typically they would not act out of revenge, panic, anger, spite, prejudice or fear.
  • Moreover, unless specifically programmed to do so, robots would not cause intentional suffering on civilian populations, for example through torture.
  • Robots also do not rape.”

Meanwhile it is reported that civilian deaths in Yemen are breeding resentment on a local level, sometimes undermining U.S. efforts to turn the public against militants.

In Pakistan there is heavy pressure on the government to force limits on strikes — and public calls for a halt to strikes are starting to emerge, not before time!

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This entry was posted in Armed drones, Civilian deaths, Drone strikes, Pakistan, Yemen and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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