Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems – Second meeting: 20–21 August 2019

Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems

Second meeting: 20–21 August 2019

STATEMENT BY ESTONIA

 

Thank you, Mr Chair,

Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union, and would like

to make a few observations in its national capacity.

On endorsing the guiding principles. We support endorsing the guiding principles,

including the new guiding principle reflected in paragraph 15(a), without prejudice to any

future discussions of additional principles. We see them as a basis for more detailed

discussions on operationalisation. Several potential guiding principles, identified in

informal meetings earlier this year, merit further attention.

On the three work streams. We are supportive of streamlining our discussions and

proceeding in the proposed 3 work streams. This arrangement would reflect well the

discussions we held this year and the suggestions several delegations made. We see this

as a good way to build on this year’s substantive work. We also believe that the Group

would benefit from adding more structure and bringing in more expertise at the stage

where our discussions are becoming more complex. We agree with others who have said

that these 3 streams should feed into the same discussion.

We agree with those delegations who say that we must not lose sight of the existing legal

framework. Thus, we also see merit in the development of a compilation of existing

international law applicable to autonomous weapon systems. Such a compilation would

help to shed more light upon any uncertainties about the interpretation and application of

existing law. Discussions should continue to develop and expand upon three questions:

 First, how international law, in particular international humanitarian law, applies to

weapon systems with autonomous functions?

 Second, what practical measures can states take to verify that the weapons they

develop and acquire, including those with autonomous functions, are capable of being

used in accordance with their obligations under international law?

 Third, how can states implement mechanisms of command and control, and individual

accountability, which ensure that weapon systems with autonomous functions are

used consistently with the law?

PERMANENT MISSION OF ESTONIA

TO THE UN AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL

ORGANISATIONS IN GENEVA

On normative framework. Like many other delegations, we find the term normative

framework flexible enough to accommodate several possible outcomes and we support

using this phrase for the time being. The 3 work streams planned for the future should

help us clarify what concrete outcome might be best. We remain unpersuaded about the

need for a new legally binding instrument, given that IHL is a robust legal framework,

which is capable of governing new weapons technologies.

Finally, we are convinced that the CCW is the appropriate forum and brings together the

right expertise for discussing issues related to weapons systems with autonomous

functions. We are supportive of the two-year timeline, and we believe that we have

identified a number of themes that discussions should continue to focus on. We agree

with many previous speakers, that we need sufficient time for our streamlined

discussions, thus we support your proposal, Mr Chair, to meet for 30 days during the next

two years. The proposed work plan is ambitious and can provide a concrete input for the

Review Conference.

Thank you, Mr Chair!