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

Posted on 19 October 2013 by mbolton

In a new working paperInternational 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 Treatyenters 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 RegisterMissile 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.

Matthew Bolton is associate professor of political science at Pace University in New York City. He is an expert on global peace and security policy, focusing on multilateral disarmament and arms control policymaking processes. He has a PhD in Government and Master's in Development Studies from the London School of Economics. Since 2014, Bolton has worked on the UN and New York City advocacy of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Bolton has published five books, including Political Minefields (I.B. Tauris) and Imagining Disarmament, Enchanting International Relations (Palgrave Pivot).

Categorized | Analysis, Working Papers

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