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
Thank you, Mr Chair!