Statement by Ambassador (Dr.) Pankaj Sharma, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament on Agenda item 5(a) on An exploration of the potential challenges posed by Emerging Technologies in the area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems to International Humanitarian Law at the 2020 session of GGE on LAWS held in Geneva from 21-25 September 2020

Mr. Chairperson,

  • As also stated yesterday, at the outset, Indian delegation would like to emphasize that technology should not be stigmatized and we would like to reiterate, that any potential policy measures taken within the context of the CCW should not hamper progress in or access to peaceful uses of intelligent autonomous technologies. In the Indian context, a Task Force on ‘Artificial Intelligence for India’s Economic Transformation’, composed of government and industry representatives as well as researchers and academicians, is working in certain relevant domains, wherein Artificial Intelligence based technologies can make a valuable contribution, especially on technologies in health and safety domains, for improving the quality of life of our people.


  • Some of the likely challenges posed by emerging technologies in the area of LAWS to IHL are:


  1. The emerging technologies in Autonomous Weapon System are expected to impact all domains of warfare. Most future generation weapon systems may possess advanced autonomy in respect of time & space with increased adaptability to the environment.
  2. The lawfulness of weapon and weapon systems itself and whether it is qualified for use in an armed conflict is determined under the principles of LAW of Armed Conflict (LOAC). To be lawful, a weapon must satisfy all the requirements i.e. the weapon must be able to discriminate between military and non-military targets, it must not cause unnecessary suffering and it must not be uncontrollable.
  3. Autonomy in critical functions of weapon systems would on one hand be more precise and accurate and not prone to human error whilst on the other, the human interface is considered necessary for compliance with distinction, proportionality and precautions. Such autonomy parameters in LAWS may be made compliant to IHL during the conceptualization, design and development of the systems.
  4. India is ready to work with other members to develop a common understanding on the role of operational constraints regarding tasks, target profiles, time frame of operation and scope of movement over an area and operating environment.  These are only some of the elements.
  5. India believes that the responsibility for development, production and deployment of LAWS, should rest with the concerned State. The associated risks as regards proliferation, including to non-state actors, need to be covered under dual responsibility of the State and by strengthening international regulations. On its part, India is compliant with the principles of IHL and respects the universality of Martens Clause from the humanitarian perspective.


I thank You, Mr. Chairperson.

Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva