The independent resource on global security

Mapping the Debate on LAWS at the CCW: Taking Stock and Moving Forward

EU NPC paper no 49

EU Non-proliferation Paper No. 49

Publisher: SIPRI
March, 2016

Since 2013 the governance of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been discussed within the framework of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The discussion is at an early stage, with most states still in the process of understanding the issues at stake. Extended discussions will be necessary to resolve contentious issues and generate a constructive basis for any potential formal negotiation.

The European Union has not yet been able to take a clear stance on the debate, due to the lack of a common perspective among its member states. However, it could implement measures that would help its member states to develop, refine or reconsider their views. These include providing a structured framework for information sharing, supporting capacity building and supporting research in relevant areas. Such measures could foster discussion and ultimately narrow the gap between the diferent positions of member states.


Dr Vincent Boulanin is Director of the Governance of Artificial Intelligence Programme at SIPRI.