Statement by Ambassador (Dr.) Pankaj Sharma, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament on Agenda item 5(e) on Possible Options for addressing the humanitarian and international security challenges posed by emerging technologies in the area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems in the context of the objectives and purposes of the Convention without prejudicing policy outcomes and taking in to account past, present and future proposals at the 2020 session of GGE on LAWS held in Geneva from 21-25 September 2020.

Mr. Chairperson, 

        Discussions on LAWS within the framework of the CCW have been underway for several years and the only consensus that has emerged in this GGE till now is on the 11 Guiding Principles, which have also been endorsed by the 2019 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW.  The other commonality that has emerged is that the discussions should continue within the framework of the CCW.  According to the Guiding Principle (k), the CCW offers an appropriate framework for dealing with the issue of emerging technologies in the area of LAWS.  In India’s view, the only legitimate forum, to discuss issues and take decisions in respect of emerging technologies in the area of LAWS, is the CCW.  Any other forum or framework may not enjoy the legitimacy and the universal support that this Convention enjoys.

        Any step that purports to go beyond these understandings does not enjoy consensus as indicated by a number of interventions made earlier today.

Mr. Chairperson,

        There are a number of options and ideas on the table and my delegation remains open to discussing them without any prejudice or preconceived notions.  India has expressed its support to the joint proposal by France and Germany for a political declaration endorsing the 11 Guiding Principles which also enjoys the support of several States including Switzerland and the Netherlands who spoke earlier today.  However, my delegation is not willing to accept any proposal for a pre-emptive ban or prohibition, or for that matter, a moratorium on development and use of LAWS till such time as consensus emerges on such a proposal.  In this context, let me recall paragraph 26(d) of recommendations from the 2019 report of the GGE on LAWS which noted that the group is to explore and agree on possible recommendations on options.  While we are still in the process of exploration, we are being given a fait accompli by some delegations that there is no other way but a pre-emptive ban or prohibition as the only way forward.  Such proposals are rather premature and go against our own recommendations agreed to last year by consensus.

Mr. Chairperson,

        Let us continue these discussions and this time with the participation of our legal, technological and military experts, to reach a common understanding on various aspects of LAWS before we think of any policy responses and clarify, consider and develop a normative and operational framework on LAWS.  We have made substantial progress over the years including last year under your able leadership and have full confidence in your abilities and diplomatic skills to guide us further towards a consensus outcome.  India will participate constructively in this collective endeavour.

        Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva