abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphLinkedInlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb

26 Apr 2023

Mirjana Spoljaric, ICRC

ICRC President calls for new, binding international constraints on the use of artificial intelligence-driven autonomous weapons

"Risks from the unconstrained use of autonomous weapons in armed conflict are stark," 26 April 2023

Statement given by Mirjana Spoljaric, President of the ICRC, at the Luxembourg Autonomous Weapons Systems Conference. ICRC President addresses the potential dangers of unconstrained use of autonomous weapons in armed conflict.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be here at the University of Luxembourg, and I thank the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence, and Minister Bausch in particular, for organizing this conference at such a critical juncture.

We are witnessing the rapid development of autonomous weapon systems, including those controlled by artificial intelligence, together with military interest in loosening the constraints on where – or against what – those weapons will strike. These developments led the International Committee of the Red Cross to call on governments to establish new international constraints that are clear and binding.

We are not alone in calling for action. There has been heightened political mobilization along similar lines, including a joint statement by 70 states at the United Nations General Assembly last October. In February this year, the Bélen Communiqué was endorsed by 33 Latin American and Caribbean states, for which I commend Vice-Minister Guillermet-Fernández on Costa Rica's convening role. There was also a clear sense of momentum in last month's discussions at the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Loss of human control over the use of force in armed conflict risks jeopardizing the protections for both combatants and civilians and brings dangers of conflict escalation. It would undermine belligerents' ability to abide by international humanitarian law, or "IHL", including the obligations of those planning and deciding upon attacks to anticipate and limit their effects. It would endanger their ability to make the human judgments required to comply with the rules governing the conduct of hostilities.
Autonomous weapons also fundamentally challenge our shared values, our humanity. Should we tolerate a world in which life and death decisions are reduced to machine calculations?...

...A call on new, binding international rules is not a call we make often, or lightly. While IHL already applies to and sets constraints on the design and use of autonomous weapons, we see that states hold differing views on what particular limits and requirements on the design and use of autonomous weapons derive from existing rules. We believe new law is needed to bring clarity in this regard, to uphold and strengthen legal protections, and to respond to ethical concerns.