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WILPF Attends Meeting of Experts on Autonomous Weapons and 14 States Call for a Preemptive Ban

20 April 2016
Credit: Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
On 11-15 April, the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons met for a meeting on LAWS. Photo credit: Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

On 11-15 April the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) met for an informal meeting of experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), aka Killer Robots.

Discussions focused on working definitions, challenges to International Humanitarian Law, human rights and ethical considerations, and the security aspects of LAWS.

At the heart of the debate during the meeting was the need for meaningful human control, as well as the ethical and moral questions around delegating responsibility over decisions of life and death to machines.

14 states, thousands of scientists, two UN special rapporteurs, and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (which WILPF are part of) are all urging the negotiation of a legally-binding instrument to prevent the development, deployment, and use of LAWS.

At the end of the meeting, states agreed on recommendations for further, more formal deliberations next year through an open-ended Group of Governmental Experts (GGE). If states accept this recommendation at the CCW Review Conference in December 2016, the GGE would operate for a currently undetermined length of time in 2017 and may continue through 2018.

While the establishment of a GGE is a welcome step, the recommendations only call for the GGE to “explore and agree on possible recommendations on options related to emerging technologies in the area of LAWS.” This is an unambitious mandate that does not reflect either the pace of technological development nor the urgency of ensuring that meaningful human control is retained over weapon systems and the use of force.

WILPF’s disarmament program, Reaching Critical Will represented WILPF at the meeting and published daily reports. You can read WILPF’s statement to the meeting, along with statements by state and civil society delegations, and other documents related to the meeting.

As the philosopher Simone Weil argued in the mid-20th century, we need to examine the social relations implied by our instruments of violence and war, not just the ends pursued by war. Do we want to seek a future in which the violence we exercise against each other is further mechanised and dehumanised, or do we want to pursue a future in which we are cooperating as a human society to prevent suffering and promote peace and justice?

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WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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