Futureproofing Is Never Complete: Ensuring the Arms Trade Treaty Keeps Pace with New Weapons Technology

In a new working paper, International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) members Matthew Bolton (Pace University) and Wim Zwijnenburg (IKV Pax Christi) stress the importance of making sure states control new weapons technologies, including robotic weapons, when the Arms Trade Treaty enters into force. It outlines strategies for civil society (such as the Control Arms campaign) and concerned states to counter potential arguments from states or manufacturers acting in bad faith, who may claim erroneously that the treaty will not apply to robotic weapons. We recommend that civil society and concerned states:

  1. Unequivocally assert that the Arms Trade Treaty Scope includes both manned and unmanned conventional arms,
  2. Build on the recent clarifications by the Group of Governmental Experts of the UN Register of Conventional Arms of the categories of weapons borrowed by the Arms Trade Treaty in its Scope. The Group authoritatively defined the categories as including armed aerial drones,
  3. Develop and promote comprehensive National Control Lists of the weapons to be controlled by states party to the Arms Trade Treaty,
  4. Influence the interpretation of the Arms Trade Treaty through careful monitoring and calling out states acting in bad faith, and
  5. Build connections between the community working on the Arms Trade Treaty (such as Control Arms) and those working on related campaigns (such as the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots) and control regimes (such as the UN Register, Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement and dual-use equipment control programs).

Click here to read the full paper.

ICRAC is an international committee of experts in robotics technology, robot ethics, international relations, international security, arms control, international humanitarian law, human rights law, and public campaigns, concerned about the pressing dangers that military robots pose to peace and international security and to civilians in war.

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