Statement by Ambassador (Dr.) Pankaj Sharma, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament on Agenda item 5(d) on Review of the Potential Military Applications of Related Technologies in the context of the Group's Work at the 2020 session of GGE on LAWS held in Geneva from 21-25 September 2020

Mr. Chairperson,

Thank you, Mr. Chair and like you, I would also like to welcome Ambassador Karklins to the room. My tribute to Ambassador Karklins for his excellent work and efforts to advance the work of this GGE. His remarks actually inspired me to be a little provocative and also taking cue from your appeals of yesterday to be more interactive.

I wanted to put to the room that we have been dealing with a lot of paradoxes here, and we have more questions than we have answers. For example, we have been hearing for now several sessions that the fully autonomous lethal weapons do not exist and if LAWS do not exist, then what are we operationalizing, which guiding principles? The issue of providing commentaries on operationalizing guiding principles on  LAWS and if LAWS are not there, then that again brings a big question mark. And if they exist, what they are and that brings us to the basic question that has once again been emphasized by Ambassador Karklins about the definition of LAWS. How do we define LAW? Of course, we can define them through various characteristics. So, characterization is one of the initial steps, but we have to reach a level where we can have a working definition of LAWS and Ambassador Karklins gave a very fine example of enhanced cooperation. I can also share one of the examples from our own experience, from the Indian experience. It was the year 1996, when India had tabled the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in  the UN General Assembly. It has been 24 years now, the draft Convention is still stuck there and one of the main stumbling blocks is the definition of terrorism. Each one of us in this room understands what terrorism is, and yet for want of  a definition of terrorism, we have not been able to adopt such a critical and crucial instrument on international terrorism. And that is one of the reasons why I had made the case yesterday to work towards definition. I completely agree with Ambassador Karklins that instead of focusing on several areas at once, we should try to find some focus areas and devote our energies to that. Perhaps human machine interface or human machine interaction would be one of the first candidates for such a focus. I will come back again after listening to other views. But for the time being, this is what I had to say.

I thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva