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U.S. Statement | Group of Governmental Experts | Lethal Autonomous Weapons
March 8, 2022

Opening Statement
U.S. Delegation
First Session in 2022 of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Emerging Technologies in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS)

March 7, 2022

Thank you Mr. Chair.

Although we have taken the floor previously, let me again congratulate you on assuming the Chair of this GGE and pledge our delegation’s support to you. In particular, we wanted to thank you for the way that you have handled the difficult and delicate issues before us today.

Mr. Chair, it is essential that we stay focused on fulfilling our mandate, which is to “consider proposals and elaborate by consensus possible measures” related to the normative and operational framework on emerging technologies in the area of LAWS. The GGE will make progress by continuing to build upon the significant work that this Group has accomplished in previous years.

Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States have submitted a proposal for consideration by the GGE titled “Principles and Good Practices on Emerging Technologies in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems.” While our proposal could inform the development of proposals and concepts for a legally binding instrument in the future, to be clear, the proposal we have submitted, along with the other delegations I mentioned, would not be a legally binding instrument.

This proposal is designed to accomplish three objectives.

First, this proposal is intended to transform our GGE’s extensive body of past consensus work into a document that could guide State practice. This document would provide measures that States could implement immediately to strengthen the implementation of international humanitarian law and promote responsible behavior.

Second, this proposal seeks to elaborate and progress the GGE’s work by proposing additional conclusions in the many areas where we have found consensus. For example, our proposal includes more granular understandings of how IHL applies. It includes additional characteristics and concepts. It includes good practices in human-machine interaction and risk mitigation measures. We’ve sought to be ambitious in progressing the GGE’s work, but also realistic in proposing advancements that we believe can be adopted this year.

Third, this proposal is a vehicle for further substantive work. The GGE’s work focuses on complex issues that are affected by continuing technological developments as well as ongoing developments in how people understand and use technology. Our proposal calls for exchanges of national practice. It also provides for continued elaboration of these principles and good practices as well as continued consideration and elaboration of other possible options and measures.

We have provided this proposal to the ISU for circulation to this group, and look forward to presenting this proposal and discussing it in greater detail this week. We welcome the

opportunity to consider any other proposals that may be submitted. Focusing on substantive, concrete text will help this Group build further common understandings and progress.

Mr. Chair, despite our different perspectives, over the last five years, the GGE has reached consensus on 11 guiding principles and numerous other substantive conclusions in various reports that have furthered our collective understanding of emerging technologies in the area of LAWS. The United States urges this GGE to continue to focus on finding areas of consensus, of which we are confident there are many if we focus on substantive issues.

We look forward to working with you and other delegations to make as much progress this week as possible on considering the proposal we have submitted and the other proposals that may be put forward. With only ten days of work in 2022, we must stay focused on fulfilling our mandate.

Before closing, our delegation feels compelled to recognize the calamity that has continued to befall Ukraine. The United States stands steadfastly with Ukraine and its people and condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustifiable attack. We call on Russia to cease its aggression against Ukraine and its flagrant violations of international law.

As much as we share a deep sense of shock, sadness, and anger, we also want to commend the bravery, resilience, and determination that we have seen from the Ukrainian people in defending their country, homes, rights, and freedoms. This attack on their country should never have happened, but the response of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people has been truly inspiring.

Russia’s unlawful actions remind us of the importance of the GGE’s work both in process and substance. As a matter of process, it’s critical that States resolve their differences and address issues through multilateral frameworks like the CCW. The ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine also reminds us of the importance of the substance of the CCW and the GGE’s work. What we do here can matter a great deal. The GGE’s work this year can strengthen the implementation of international humanitarian law in future armed conflicts. Because the United States believes deeply in multilateralism and in strengthening the implementation of IHL, the United States seeks a robust, substantive outcome for this GGE.

Thank you.