UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has called for pre-emptive ban on the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS), known as killer robots, that are capable of making their own combat decisions without human intervention, saying such devices would undermine world peace.
“The introduction of LAWS would be illegal, unethical, inhumane and unaccountable as well as destabilizing for international peace and security with grave consequences,” Ambassador Zamir Akram told the General Assembly’s First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security matters.
“Therefore”, he added, “their (LAWS’) further development and use must be pre-emptively banned, and the states currently developing such weapons should place an immediate moratorium on their production and use.”
Speaking in a thematic debate on conventional weapons, Akram, who is Pakistan’s permanent representative to the U.N.’s European offices in Geneva, also focused on the use of armed drones and said the issue had assumed added urgency in the wake of reports regarding the development of fully autonomous armed drones.
The Pakistani delegate said the use of armed drones contravenes State sovereignty as well as the UN Charter restrictions on the legitimate use of force for self-defence in the absence of any imminent danger and without express permission from States in whose territory the armed drones are used.
“The use of armed drones is characterized by a lack of transparency, proportionality, responsibility and accountability,” Ambassador Akram said. “Civilians have been targeted and killed through signature strikes.
In the absence of credible information against the targeted individuals warranting use of drones, their use is tantamount to extrajudicial killings since no due process of law is followed.”
He said the proliferation of drone technology over time would make it more dangerous. “Even more challenging would be the task of preventing and deterring non-state actors and terrorists from developing, deploying and using drones.”
Discussing the spike in the global spending on conventional weapons, Ambassador Akran said that, notwithstanding the focus on mass destruction potential of nuclear weapons maintained primarily for deterrence, was the widespread use of conventional weapons, which fuelled conflict and destabilized States and societies.
He said it was “ironic” the weapons that propelled and sustained conflicts came from areas that enjoyed peace.
Only four countries accounted for two thirds of global arms exports, while major importers
were in the developing countries.
Yet another irony was that the total United Nations budget amounted to a paltry 3 per cent of the world’s military expenditure, and hence, the world was spending around 33 times more on breeding, exacerbating and maintaining conflict than in preventing it.
He welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty as the first step towards regulating trade and transfer of conventional weapons and expected that the Treaty would be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner.
An exclusive focus on managing the effects of the arms trade without adequately addressing its causes did not offer a comprehensive solution.
The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons provided an ideal platform to deal with the subject of cluster munitions since it harmonized the genuine humanitarian concerns with the security imperatives of States, the Pakistani delegate said.