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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Prohibit ‘killer robots’ now before they become reality, says Vatican official

Fully automated and autonomous lethal weapons systems must be banned now before they become a reality in tomorrow’s wars, a Vatican representative said.

The development of robotic weapons or “killer robots” will provide “the capacity of altering irreversibly the nature of warfare, becoming more detached from human agency, putting in question the humanity of our societies,” Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic told a group of experts at the United Nations in Geneva.

The archbishop, who is the Vatican observer to UN agencies in Geneva, spoke at a recent meeting of the high contracting parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, held in Geneva from 21st to 23rd November.

The Vatican mission in Geneva released the archbishop’s remarks on 27th November.

The legal and ethical implications of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) have been discussed and on the convention’s agenda for the past five years, the archbishop said in his speech.

Picture: A US service member passes in front of an MQ-9 Reaper drone to help to step up the fight against the Taliban at the Kandahar air base in Afghanistan. (CNS photo/Omar Sobhani, Reuters).