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When will Norway get on the field?

Superpower policy sticks in the wheels of the Arms Convention's work to ban autonomous weapons systems. The Chronicle author from the Norwegian Peace Team calls for Norway's involvement in the case.


"The development of autonomous weapons systems must be stopped through national legislation and international regulation," said Mary Wareham, head of the International Campaign to Stop Killing Robots. She has recognized disarmament players on the team; Jody Williams (Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the International Land Mines Campaign), Human Rights Watch, Article 36, Mines Action Canada, Pugwash and PAX. Norway's peace team is also part of this international campaign.

The unique thing about this campaign is the overwhelming call coming from the tech community and academia: Tens of thousands of independent robotics researchers and academics – over 4 000 Google employees and more than 200 technology companies – specializing in developing robotic technology and artificial intelligence require a ban on autonomous weapons systems, which could identify and kill without exercising any meaningful human control.

This is obviously the continuation of the US-Russia arms race.

After five years in the UN Weapons Convention, where a new ban can be established, the majority of state parties want just that. But the diplomatic talks in the UN Weapons Convention are based on consensus. This means that a bundle, or even a single state, can block the outcome the majority wants; namely, to ban autonomous weapons systems. That is exactly what happened in the Weapons Convention in August: During the sixth session, the majority of state parties agreed to start negotiations, but five states blocked. It was particularly heartening to hear the US and Russia say that humanitarian law does not necessarily apply to autonomous weapons systems, and that they want to explore the potential "benefits" of developing and using autonomous weapons systems.

For us in the Norwegian Peace Team, it is clear that this is the continuation of the arms race we are witnessing in terms of nuclear, new long-range missiles and missile defense, as well as the rapid development of the conventional US-Russia arms race in mega-bombs, tanks, fighter jets, and the like, and that this superpower policy puts wheels in the wheels of US and Russia participation in the Arms Convention. Then it is up to states with greater political autonomy to use it – and ensure meaningful human control over autonomous weapons systems.

The role of Norway

In June notified Ine Eriksen Søreide that Norway should finally take an active role both inside and outside the Weapons Convention, in order to ensure basic principles of human control over autonomous weapons systems. But when the time came to negotiate the way forward, the Norwegian delegation was anything but active: "We see a growing consensus that meaningful human control must be maintained over the critical functions of a weapons system, but we have not yet concluded policy," he said. Norway's delegation in August. It was the last we heard from Norway. The delegation withdrew and left the battle for road choices to the other states of the Weapons Convention. So we did not see a "continuation of Norway's long-standing driving role in humanitarian law", as Søreide warned.

Autonomous weapons systems must never be developed or used.

It has come to the Peace of Norway that the government sees the Weapons Convention as a burial ground for unsuccessful discussions, and therefore refuses to assume a driving role. That is what we in Norway's Peace Party deeply disagree with. The Weapons Convention has been alpha omegafor some of Norway's biggest disasters in disarmament. On several occasions, Norway has emerged as an independent and proud proponent of disarmament, including within the Weapons Convention, for example in its efforts to ban anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. As a nation, we should be proud of the role Norway has played in the efforts to ban land mines and cluster weapons, and in this context we must remember that the Weapons Convention was the "manger" for the work. On the contrary, work in the Weapons Convention has given Norway attention as a peace nation and a position we benefit from.

In overtime

"It is urgent to set limits on autonomy in weapons systems," he says The International Red Cross Committee, which has been observing the Weapons Convention's work on autonomous weapons systems since 2014. The urgency of setting limits on autonomy in weapons systems, Google employee Amr Gaber, who was in Geneva in August, can sign: Gaber was one of the initiators behind Google call in June, which ensured that Google withdrew Project Maven- a multibillion-dollar Pentagon contract to equip artificial intelligence drones. "We can't do this alone," Gaber said during a side event held by the Campaign to Stop Killing Robots at the UN in August. He pointed to Google's new principles, which prohibits the development of technologies that violate international humanitarian law. "We need a new ban," he concluded.

It's 01.00 night until Saturday 1. September, after fifteen hours of discussion and no interruption other than trips to the snack machine in the UN, it was disappointing to see that the only recommendation left on the table was the recommendation to continue the discussion next year. The recommendation captured little of the actual work that has been done in the Weapons Convention. The majority wants to start negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit the development and use of autonomous weapons systems. The second proposal is to negotiate a political declaration. Despite the difference between the two approaches, treaty and declaration, the supporters agree on one thing; Autonomous weapons systems must never be developed or used. As the German delegation said: "Any outcome of this meeting must not be read as assuming autonomous weapons systems will be in operation one day, because the vast majority of delegations believe that weapons systems operating without human control are unacceptable and should never see the light of day . "

"Drawing a normative line and banning killing robots is inevitable," she said Mary Wareham in a press release the same night. "The longer it takes you to start negotiations, the greater opposition you will face from civil society," she continued. The final road selection for 2019 will be taken at the annual meeting in November, and then Norway must get on the track.

Lene Grimstad
Lene Grimstad
Grimstad is a former journalist in MODERN TIMES, and a board member of Norges Fredslag.

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