States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons(CCW)completed a week of conferences on Friday, 13 November, where one of the key issues before States parties was Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), which has been the subject of intense discussion over the past two years within the CCW.
The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha of Sri Lanka.
The CCW Meeting decided to, "convene an informal meeting of experts of up to five days during the week of 11 to 15 April 2016 to discuss further the questions related to emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), in the context of the objectives and purposes of the Convention. The Chairperson of the meeting of experts will submit a report in his personal capacity to the 2016 Fifth Review Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Convention. The meeting of experts may agree by consensus on recommendations for further work for consideration by the 2016 Fifth Review Conference’.
In welcoming the decision on the 2016 mandate on LAWS, Ambassador Aryasinha said “LAWS if developed could be a major game changer in how armed conflicts are conducted. The work on this issue is far from complete. The stepping up of the mandate, to go beyond mere discussions of the possible implications of LAWS, to requesting States parties to agree on recommendations as to what should be done at the 2016 Fifth Review Conference of the CCW, constitutes an important step forward.”
Other issues under discussion were the humanitarian impact of anti-vehicle mines (AVM); issues of compliance with the Convention and its Protocols, and the preparations for the Fifth Review Conference on CCW in 2016.
The meeting of experts on LAWS will be chaired by Ambassador Michael Biontino of Germany in April 2016 and the CCW Fifth Review Conference will be presided over by Ambassador Tehmina Janjua of Pakistan in December 2016.
The purpose of the CCW is to ban or restrict the use of specific types of weapons that are considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or to affect civilians indiscriminately. The Convention itself contains general provisions. All prohibitions or restrictions on the use of specific weapons or weapon systems are the object of the Protocols annexed to the Convention. Those Protocols address non-detectable fragments, landmines and other devices, incendiary weapons, blinding laser weapons and explosive remnants of war. Presently there are 121 States Parties to the CCW, with a further five States that have signed but not yet ratified.