September 16, 2019
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 In Autonomous Weapon Systems

Country: United States of America
Delegate Name: Nanda Murali

Autonomous weapons systems are a novel case for furthering the development of global militaries. The word “autonomous” has many meanings and definitions, but in this case, it means “self-governing.” Lethal autonomous weapons, known as LAWs, allow for military devices to effectively run with little to no human input. “Self-governing” weapons systems contain a broad range of examples, with the most notable being unmanned drones or stereotypical “killer robots”. However, the term encompasses the future of global military and warfare technology. Military weapons that can activate, detonate, and survey without the necessity of human control signal advancements in the worldwide arms race. Some opponents of these technologies belonging to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), a 1980 treaty restricting the use of certain weapons, propose a legally binding ban on all autonomous weapons systems. Critics of the controversial proposal recognize that this halts the progression of technological militaries, and instead, another proposal headed by France and Germany asks for the adoption of a political declaration in which countries using autonomous weapons systems affirm some human control through a code of conduct. This measure would require human responsibility for all autonomous weapons systems at all times and allow the progression of technology to continue.

The United States advocates for the development, deployment, and control of autonomous weapons systems. Having the largest military in the world, new military systems enable the United States to progress technologically and advance the future of warfare. Autonomous weapons systems offer undeniable advantages in combat. In April 2016, the United States Navy introduced its first-ever zero-passenger trimaran, known as “Sea Hunter,” designed to travel the oceans for months at a time, seeking enemy submarines and report intelligence to remote human operators. Eventually, this innovation could result in the deployment of multiple of these vessels that could potentially attack enemies without human input. Similarly, the U.S. Air Force is testing software that will enable pilots to guide unmanned aircraft in seeking and destroying enemy surveillance and other key targets through autonomous drones. These technologies help reduce the casualties of soldiers, protecting American lives and allowing for faster means to end conflict. However, many opponents of autonomous weapons systems fear the sudden imposition of the systems creates unprecedented risks. To avoid this issue, the U.S. Army envisions a gradual adaptation to autonomous weapons systems – first deploy unarmed and unmanned utility vehicles, then introduce armed robotic vehicles with ever-increasing degrees of autonomy. “The process to improve RAS autonomy,” the Army explained in 2017, “takes a progressive approach that begins with tethered systems, followed by wireless remote control, teleoperation, semi-autonomous functions, and then fully autonomous systems.” By imposing regulations such as this and detailed, descriptive publishing of new systems, the potential risk can be mitigated. Through deepened research and trials, autonomous weapons systems can effectively be made intelligent enough to become used to protect, and only to serve that purpose.

The United States of America urges the General Assembly to understand the importance of the development and use of technologies such as autonomous weapons systems. A complete ban only hinders progress, and in order to build a more technologically developed world, progress is necessary. The United States will accept certain regulations on the development of autonomous weapons systems to protect civilians and take precautions against potential dangers. However, the U.S. will continue to push for any resolution that will continue to allow greater military development. Autonomous weapons systems improve militaries, allowing for fewer human casualties, the end of warfare, and ultimately, a more peaceful world. By halting the natural flow of technological development, it is only hindering the progress to a safer and more protected globe.

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