CCW GGE Meeting on LAWS: U.S. Statement on the Way Forward

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)
Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS)

Statement on the way forward delivered by Josh Dorosin
Geneva, November 17, 2017

Mr. Chairman,

As this is my first time taking the floor, let me express my appreciation for your leadership over the course of this GGE.

As we’ve indicated in our prior statements and working papers, we support continued discussion of LAWS within the CCW and would support a continuation of the current  GGE mandate next year.  We agree with the statement made by Netherlands that this week has demonstrated the need for more discussion on this important issue.  There remains a lack of common understanding on various issues related to LAWS, including on their characteristics or elements, and we believe that the current mandate provides us with an appropriate foundation for discussion next year.

For this reason, we continue to believe that it is premature to negotiate a political document, code of conduct, or other such document.  Engaging in negotiations when we lack a shared understanding on fundamental issues related to LAWS would be counterproductive at this stage, when a premium must be placed on developing shared understandings of the challenges and potential benefits presented by this complex issue.

While we think it is premature to develop a definition of LAWS at this stage, as other delegations have suggested, and as outlined in our working paper, we do think it would be productive to establish a working understanding of common characteristics or elements of LAWS.  Reaching a common understanding of LAWS’ characteristics will be extremely important as we consider recommendations for future work.

We can also support some of the suggestions set forth by other delegations.  We agree with other delegations that further discussions on human control, supervision, or judgment over decisions to use force could be especially productive, as there appear to be a range of different views on this issue.  In addition, an exchange of views or State practice on weapons reviews would be a valuable contribution to our understanding of the challenges and benefits posed by LAWS.

Thank you again, Mr. Chair.

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