HRW criticizes 2023 US policy on autonomy in weapons systems
Human Rights Watch writes a review on the new US Policy on Autonomy in Weapons Systems, urging a new international treaty that prohibits and regulates autonomous weapons systems.
A new Pentagon directive on developing autonomous weapons systems raises concerns over removing human control from the use of force and fails to tackle the flaws of a previous policy document, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.
HRW is referring to Directive 3000-09 on Autonomy in Weapons Systems that the Department of Defense issued on January 25, which defines autonomous weapons as those that are capable of, once activated, selecting and engaging targets without a human operator's additional intervention.
"The US pursuit of autonomous weapons systems without binding legal rules to explicitly address the dangers is a recipe for disaster," HRW's Arms Advocacy Director Mary Wareham was quoted as saying in a press release.
"National policy and legislation are urgently needed to address the risks and challenges raised by removing human control from the use of force," Wareham added.
The content of the new directive has been concerning for HRW, as it only applies to the Department of Defense, according to the report, and there is currently no nationwide legal framework on using autonomous weapons systems.
Also, while the directive says that autonomous weapons will be designed to permit operators to use "appropriate" levels of human judgment, a clear definition of what "appropriate" means is absent.
What concerns HRW is that the directive has removed in many instances references to what would happen in the event of "loss of control."
"The US has repeatedly objected to the use of the word 'control' in multilateral meetings," the rights group stated.
In this regard, HRW urged the US to support the negotiation of a new international treaty that prohibits and regulates autonomous weapons systems.