Killer Robots

Fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots” or lethal autonomous weapons systems, would select and engage targets without meaningful human control. While currently under development, these weapons are moving rapidly closer to reality as the role of autonomy in military technology increases. Fully autonomous weapons raise a host of moral, legal, accountability, technological, and security concerns. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, launched in 2013, calls on countries to address these problems through an international treaty banning the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons and requiring meaningful human control over the use of force.

Credit: Russell Christian|Human Rights Watch, 2018

States parties to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) have held discussions on these weapons systems since 2014. Although a small number of major military powers have blocked negotiations in this consensus forum, the majority of countries party to the CCW have expressed support for new international law that would maintain human control over the use of force or prohibit fully autonomous weapons. Requiring meaningful human control over the use of force is effectively equivalent to banning weapons that inherently lack such control.