New York, 5 October 2023 (TDI): In a joint statement, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and International Committee of the Red Cross President, Mirjana Spoljaric have issued an appeal for political leaders.

That appeal was issued for political leaders to urgently establish fresh international regulations concerning autonomous weapon systems, with the aim of safeguarding humanity.

The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are uniting their voices to address a pressing humanitarian priority.

They are urging nations to institute specific prohibitions and constraints on autonomous weapon systems, to shield both current and future generations from the consequences of their deployment.

In the current security landscape, establishing clear international boundaries will be advantageous for all countries.

Autonomous weapon systems, generally characterized as systems that can identify targets and apply force without human intervention, give rise to significant concerns related to humanitarian, legal, ethical, and security issues.

Their development and proliferation have the potential to alter the nature of warfare, contributing to global instability and heightened international tensions.

By creating a perception of reduced risk for both military forces and civilians, they may inadvertently escalate conflicts.

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Taking prompt action is imperative to preserve human control over the use of force. Maintaining human involvement in life-and-death decisions is crucial.

The autonomous targeting of humans by machines is a moral threshold that must not be crossed. Machines with the capability to take lives without human intervention should be prohibited by international law.

These concerns are exacerbated by the increasing availability and accessibility of advanced technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence that can be integrated into autonomous weapons.

Even those responsible for these technological advances have expressed alarm. To harness new technologies for the benefit of humanity, addressing urgent risks and avoiding irreversible consequences is essential.

This entails prohibiting autonomous weapon systems that operate in a manner where their effects cannot be predicted.

For instance, permitting autonomous weapons to be controlled by machine learning algorithms, which are inherently unpredictable, is an unacceptable risk.

Additionally, there is a need for clear restrictions on all other categories of autonomous weapons to ensure compliance with international law and ethical standards.

This includes limiting their deployment in terms of location, timing, and duration, specifying the types of targets they can engage, and controlling the scale of force applied.

Effective human supervision, timely intervention, and deactivation capabilities must also be ensured.

Despite reports of testing and usage of various autonomous weapon systems, there is still an opportunity to take action.

More than a decade of discussions within the UN, including in the Human Rights Council, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and the General Assembly, has laid the foundation for explicit prohibitions and restrictions.

States must now build on this groundwork and collaborate constructively to negotiate new regulations that address the tangible threats posed by these weapon technologies.

While international law, particularly international humanitarian law, already prohibits certain weapons and imposes general restrictions on others.

Varying interpretations by states regarding how these rules apply to autonomous weapon systems necessitate specific international agreements.

New international rules for autonomous weapons are essential to clarify and reinforce existing laws and serve as a preventative measure to protect those potentially affected by these weapons and prevent catastrophic consequences for humanity.

The call is made for world leaders to initiate negotiations for a new legally binding instrument that establishes clear prohibitions and restrictions on autonomous weapon systems.

The aim of doing this is to conclude these negotiations by 2026. Member States are urged to take resolute action now to safeguard humanity.