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Humanitarian Organization Warns Weapons Threaten ‘Our Shared Humanity’

The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is calling on governments to ban fully autonomous weapons. ICRC President Peter Maurer said yesterday that he hopes the humanitarian organization’s public backing for new legally…
An ambulance covered in bullet holes
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Proposed New York City Law a Model for Regulation

Elected officials and local authorities across the United States and around the world should consider replicating an innovative legislative proposal that would prohibit police from arming robots used in their law enforcement operations. The bill,…
A black robot with four legs resembling a dog stands on a stage in front of a shite background.
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14 Governments Face Possible Military Sanctions

Last week the United States State Department named more countries than ever before – 14 – in its latest annual list of governments responsible for the recruitment and use of children as soldiers. Cameroon, Libya, and Nigeria were added this year,…
Rebel child soldiers gather in Gumuruk, South Sudan.
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Peace Prize Provides Impetus for Banning Killer Robots

Thousands of children across Belgium studied five shortlisted Peace Prize nominees over the past school year and voted for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to win the award, given out every three years by the city of Ypres. The prize shows how…
Growing opposition to fully autonomous weapons from various quarters shows how the public conscience supports banning weapons systems that lack meaningful human control.
News

Treaty’s 20th Anniversary Shows Uneven Progress, Need for Improvement

When I joined Human Rights Watch more than two decades ago, I quickly became involved with a global campaign to stop the use of child soldiers. Today marks 20 years since 1 of the campaign’s key accomplishments – the adoption of the United Nations…
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Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, More Than 70 Countries Participate in Online Meeting

This week, Germany convened the first-ever major digital disarmament meeting for governments and civil society. Representatives from more than 70 countries logged on to participate in the two-day meeting on lethal autonomous weapons…
Artists and activists participate in a Campaign to Stop Killer Robots event outside Germany’s parliament, February 2020.
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UN Report Finds Unfair Trials, Torture, Overreliance on Confessions

Over the past two years, Iraqi courts have processed more than 20,000 terrorism cases against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) suspects, including hundreds of children. But a new United Nations report finds that far from…
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The International Community Should Launch Negotiations to Ban the Weapons

Major military powers are racing to embrace weapons that select and fire on targets without meaningful human control. This is raising the specter of immoral, unaccountable, largely uncontrollable weapon systems – killer robots. It is also driving…
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Government Still Rejects Regulations Preventing ‘Killer Robots’

As the United States Department of Defense releases a strategy on artificial intelligence (AI), questions loom about whether the US government intends to accelerate its investments in weapons systems that would select and engage targets…
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New Report Suggests Ways to Strengthen International Law

Is there more international law can do to protect children caught up in war? That is the question raised by a major report released today as part of an inquiry on protecting children during conflicts. The Inquiry on…
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Forces in Northeast Issue Order to Prohibit Recruitment, Verify Ages

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of forces controlling parts of Syria’s northeast, has taken an important step towards ending the use of child soldiers in their ranks. The SDF issued a military order banning the…
Ain Issa displaced persons camp, one of three camps in northeast Syria where Human Rights Watch found the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) have been recruiting children for military participation, June 2017.
News

US and Russia Among States Who Object to Prohibition

Opposition to the creation of so-called “killer robots” – weapons systems that could select and attack targets without any human intervention – is growing. The issue has been hotly debated since 2013, when the Campaign to Stop Killer…
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State Department Restores Burma and Iraq to its Annual List of Violators

I held my breath yesterday, waiting for the US State Department to issue its latest annual list of governments implicated in the use of child soldiers. Last year’s list was a disaster: then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson overruled his…
Child soldiers put down their guns in a disarmament and release ceremony in Jonglei state, South Sudan, February 10, 2015.
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Courts Need to Be Able to Rule on Legality of New Biometric, AI Technologies

US law enforcement agencies’ use of Rekognition, an Amazon surveillance system that uses facial recognition powered by artificial intelligence, poses threats to the rights to peaceful assembly and respect for private life, among others…
An Amazon.com Inc driver stands next to an Amazon delivery truck in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 21, 2016.
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Governments Renounce Child Marriage, Child Soldier Use, Attacks on Schools

For many children around the world, 2017 could hardly have been worse. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children fled mass atrocities by government security forces in Burma, while millions are bearing the brunt of war and unprecedented…
Students and teachers from around the world call for schools and universities to be protected from military use.
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No Excuse for Sending a 13-Year-Old to War

“How old are you?” the interviewer asks. “Thirteen,” replies the boy, in uniform. “Thirteen years – thirteen years old!” the interviewer repeats, proudly, as the camera pans upward to the grinning, bearded faces of…
A fighter stands amidst the ruins of buildings near the Clock Square in Raqqa, Syria October 18, 2017. Picture taken October 18, 2017.
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Progress Sluggish at Key UN Meeting on Fully Autonomous Weapons

It isn’t often that the international community comes together to act preventatively on matters relating to warfare. So there was a flurry of media coverage earlier this month when representatives…
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Rare ‘Dissent Memo’ Says Secretary of State Contravened US Law

When US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson excluded Iraq, Burma, and Afghanistan from the State Department’s list of countries using child soldiers earlier this year, my colleagues and I at Human Rights Watch were angry. It turns out we…
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson holds a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, U.S., August 22, 2017.
News

Many Child Soldiers Released, but more than 7,500 Newly Recruited Globally

Let’s start with the good news. A new United Nations report on children and armed conflict found that more than 5,700 child soldiers were released from armed groups in the Central African Republic and the Philippines last year, and for…
Child soldiers put down their guns in a disarmament and release ceremony in Jonglei state, South Sudan, February 10, 2015.
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An Open Letter from Elon Musk and 115 Others

An open letter issued Monday from Tesla head Elon Musk and 115 other founders of artificial intelligence and robotic companies called for diplomatic action to prevent the development and use of fully autonomous weapons, otherwise known…
© 2016 Brian Stauffer for Human Rights Watch