Stage 3
10:00 - 11:00
Machines in war – why we need to regulate Autonomous Weapon Systems

Short thesis

Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) are at the edge of being developed and fielded. They will be used unless states can agree on a regulation and/or ban them. But how to do it? What is a LAWS and how can we make sure that human do not lose control over their systems. Important stakeholders of the international debate give insights.


At the United Nations in Geneva states discuss whether and how to regulate Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS). A Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) is meeting in February and April 2018 to debate the framework of an international regulation that makes sure, humans will always have meaningful control over the use of force with regard to these systems. Here civil society and some states including Germany have been playing an active role since 2014. But not everyone can agree to regulate future LAWS. Some states hope for military advantages through the use of autonomous technology and AI in warfare. We want to discuss with participants of the negotiations (state representatives), observers (civil society) and experts the progress in the UN. The following questions should be addressed:

  • Is it ethical to kill people with autonomous weapons?
  • What is the right approach for a regulation?
  • How to convince sceptical states?
  • What are implications of the use of LAWS to international security?