UNITED NATIONS   -    Pakistan has called for a moratorium on the production of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS), known as “killer robots”, that are capable of making their own combat decisions without human intervention, stating such devices would undermine world peace.

“Any weapon system that delegates life and death decisions to machines, is by nature unethical, and cannot fully comply with international law including International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law,” Pakistani delegate Husham Ahmed told the General Assembly’s First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security matters.

“LAWS gravely threaten international and regional peace and security as they lower the threshold of war,” Husham Ahmed, who is Director of Arms Control and Disarmament in the Foreign Ministry said.

“They would also negatively affect progress on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament,” he added, while also underlining the threat of non-State actors and terrorists acquiring armed drones.  Developments in artificial intelligence should not outpace the regulations governing them, the Pakistani delegate said, calling for a legally binding framework.

Pakistan, he said, supports an open ended working group through the Group of governmental experts on lethal autonomous weapons and is open to addressing the issue in other multilateral forums, including the Conference on Disarmament.

Pakistan views the trans-border unauthorised use of armed drones outside of international armed conflict, especially against civilians, as violation of International Law.

“Their use also contravenes State sovereignty and the UN Charter restrictions on the legitimate use of force for self-defence purpose only,” the Pakistani delegate said.

The UN Human Rights Council, jurists and human rights groups, he pointed out, had opposed armed drones targeting of civilians through signature strikes as tantamount to extrajudicial killings.

Cyberwarfare also poses serious threats to international peace and security, he said, calling for the issue to be taken up in a multilateral forum.