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Group calls for more awareness on ‘killer robots’ among ECOWAS members states



The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), has called on relevant stakeholders to create more awareness among ECOWAS member states and promote political commitment to stop ‘killer robots’.

The made the call in a Communique signed by the Coordinator of IANSA, Ms Mimido Achakpa, at the end of a one-day roundtable in Abuja on Tuesday on the Campaign to Stop ‘Killer Robots’.

Nigeria News Agency reports that fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots,” were made to select and engage targets without meaningful human control.

Precursors to these weapons, such as armed drones, are being developed and deployed by nations including China, Israel, South Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The involvement of African States, Media, Civil Societies and other relevant stakeholders can play a pivotal role in enhancing the protection of civilians and other citizens from the harm caused by fully autonomous weapons in a time when armed conflicts are increasingly fought in population centres.

The group said the ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ was an inclusive and diverse coalition across the globe comprised of NGOs, community groups, and professional associations that support the campaign and the call for a ban on Fully Autonomous Weapons.

It stated that activities in support to ban Killer Robots currently had membership of 93 organisations in 53 countries.

“Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles globally has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges.

“Now rapid advances in technology are resulting in efforts to develop fully autonomous weapons (Killer Robots).

“These robotic weapons would be able to choose and fire on targets on their own, without any human intervention,” the Communique said.

It also stated that giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield was an unacceptable application of technology.

The group said fully autonomous weapons systems would fundamentally destabilise nations around the world.

“History will note which political leaders recognised the gravity of this threat and took legislative action and those that did not.

” We must avoid the human sufferings that will occur if killer robots are deployed. The participants acknowledged the need for further actions to address this issue at national, regional and international levels,” it said.

The group, however, called for the collection of data and information to increase awareness and enhance knowledge about the impact of fully autonomous weapons on humans and avoid the use of fully autonomous weapons with wide area effects at all levels.

It stressed the need to fully support the process that would lead to the negotiation and adoption of an international political declaration on the use of killer robots.

The group said there was need to promote bilateral and regional cooperation through sharing experiences, goodpractices and expertise on reducing the harm caused by killer robots to humans.

“Constructively engage in discussions and initiatives at international level that could effectively provide greater protection to humans in armed conflicts.

“Foster deeper and further engagement from ECOWAS States and facilitate increased involvement as a group of States.

“Continue and strengthen cooperation and partnerships with international organisations and civil society organisations to draw upon their relevant expertise and support.

“Channel contributions to the draft international political declaration on the matter, as well as engage in advocacy, at national, regional and international levels,” the communique added.

Edited by Felix Ajide


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