|Party:||Groen, Ecolo, déi gréng and GroenLinks|
R06: The Prohibition of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems
Because of the rapid advancement of digital technology, our everyday lives and
society are increasingly confronted with automated decision making.
In relation to defence and security this has led to the development of lethal
autonomous weapon systems (LAWS).
There is currently no agreed definition of autonomous weapon systems, but the
International Committee of the Red Cross defines them as “any weapons that
select and apply force to targets without human intervention”.
In March 2020, a United Nations Security Council report on the Libyan civil war
indicated that lethal autonomous weapons systems had been utilized in combat.
The report stated that these weapons had the ability to attack targets without
the need for data connectivity between the operator and the munition.
On May 21, 2021 Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said at a
lecture: "The serial production of combat robots has begun. What has emerged are
not simply experimental, but robots that can be really shown in science-fiction
films as they are capable of fighting on their own”. Other countries, such as
China, Israel, and the US, are also investing in the development of weapon
systems with increasing autonomy.
The use of lethal autonomous weapon systems or "killer robots” poses serious
legal and ethical issues.
First of all, there is a lack of accountability. The lack of human intervention
is the key difference with other weapon systems. Who is responsible for the
actions of an autonomous weapon system when it leads to violations of
humanitarian law or war crimes? When an attack happens without human oversight
it makes it difficult to assign responsibility.
And what if a lethal autonomous weapon system makes a mistake? The inaccuracy of
facial recognition technology e.g. is often mentioned. As a report of the
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights states: facial recognition
technology has higher error rates when used on women and people of colour,
producing biased results.
Further, there is the dehumanization of the decision-making process to use
force, which is an ethical consideration. An algorithm should not have the power
to decide about life and death. How would it be able to correctly interpret the
difference between civilians and soldiers, which is a fundamental principle in
international law? Empathy, an important element often already lacking in armed
conflicts, is completely absent in lethal autonomous weapon systems.
Additionally, lethal autonomous weapon systems decrease the need for the
involvement of soldiers, which might lower the threshold to launch attacks.
Potentially this can lead to more armed conflicts, as these conflicts would not
be restrained by the loss of the lives of soldiers.
Finally, there is the risk of proliferation. The development of lethal
autonomous weapon systems can start a new arms race, leading to additional risks
to human security and more conflicts. There is an additional risk of these
weapon systems falling into the hands of groups not under government control,
such as terrorist groups or private military companies.
A call to ban “killer robots” was issued by United Nations Secretary-General
António Guterres, on 11 November 2018 at the Paris Peace Forum: “Imagine the
consequences of an autonomous system that could, by itself, target and attack
human beings. I call upon States to ban these weapons, which are politically
unacceptable and morally repugnant.”
However, until now the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons only agreed
to continue discussions.
Several times, such as in 2018 at the initiative of the Greens/EFA group, the
European Parliament voted to work towards an international ban on “killer
robots”. Recently, in the 2022 resolution on artificial intelligence in a
digital age, the Parliament repeated its call for a ban, and called on the
Council to adopt a joint position on autonomous weapons systems that ensures
meaningful human control over their critical function; insisted on the launch of
international negotiations on a legally binding instrument that would prohibit
fully autonomous weapons systems; and stated that such an international
agreement should determine that all lethal AI weapons must be subject to
meaningful human oversight and control, meaning that human beings remain in the
loop, and are therefore ultimately responsible for the decision to select a
target and take lethal action.
The Greens/EFA group managed to exclude in the European Defence Fund Regulation
any of the Defence Fund's €13 billion from being spent on “killer robots”.
Taking into consideration all these factors, we call on:
- AM-68-1 Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament
- AM-68-2 Die Grünen
- AM-67-1 EGP Committee
- AM-70-1 Bündnis90/Die Grünen
- AM-67-2 Green Party of England and Wales
- The EGP to stress in its Manifesto that the EU should primarily always
strive towards peace and global disarmament. In times of growing
militarisation, we need to make sure that no new military systems are
developed that pose great risks to humanity.
- The international community to start negotiations and work on an
international treaty on the prohibition of the development, production and
use of lethal autonomous weapon systems that enable strikes to be carried
out without meaningful human control.
- The European Union to actively work towards this international ban. Since
there are currently no hopeful developments within the UN Convention on
Certain Conventional Weapons, the EU should take the lead in developing a
multilateral ban with like minded countries.
- MP’s and MEP’s to support the parliamentary pledge of the Stop killer
- The EGP member parties, especially those in government, to adopt laws
banning lethal autonomous weapon systems, and take a leading role in the
international developments for an international ban.
 An overview of states’ positions can be found at
- 3 supporters
- AM-1-10 (Die Grünen)
- AM-19-1 (Die Grünen)
- AM-22-1 (Vihreät - De Gröna)
- AM-25-1 (Bündnis90/Die Grünen)
- AM-28-1 (Miljöpartiet de gröna)
- AM-33-1 (Die Grünen)
- AM-66-1 (EGP Committee)
- AM-67-1 (EGP Committee)
- AM-67-2 (Green Party of England and Wales)
- AM-68-1 (Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament)
- AM-68-2 (Die Grünen)
- AM-70-1 (Bündnis90/Die Grünen)
- AM-72-1 (Die Grünen)
- AM-75-1 (Die Grünen)
- AM-75-2 (Green Party of England and Wales)
- AM-78-1 (Europe Ecologie - Les Verts)
- AM-81-1 (EGP Committee)
- AM-81-2 (Bündnis90/Die Grünen)
- AM-83-1 (Europe Ecologie - Les Verts)