Statement by Ambassador (Dr.) Pankaj Sharma, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament on Agenda item 5(f) on Consensus Recommendations in relation to the clarification, consideration and development of aspects of the normative and operational framework on emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems at the 2020 session of GGE on LAWS held in Geneva from 21-25 September 2020

Mr. Chairperson,

Like the previous speakers, I would also like to commend you and express my sincere appreciation to you for preparing this non-paper.  You have been able to distil the most important elements and put them in a cogent and coherent framework to chart the course of our future work.  You have proposed establishment of three informal open-ended work streams, which will basically channel our work in these three thematic areas.  These themes were recognized by our own group in 2019 and, therefore, we think we have the mandate to continue this kind of work. Your proposal is nothing but continuity of that work that we had carried out in 2019 and thus enjoys the support of my delegation.

If you permit me, Mr. Chairperson, I would like to make one suggestion that the composition of these working groups be left open-ended, and not be restricted to the Friends of the Chair, even in the initial phases. My delegation has no problem with the concept of Friends of Chair, but usually the group of Friends of the Chair changes with the change in the Chair, whereas our work will continue beyond the term of your Chair.  Working Groups, that way, may provide us with a way to continue our work in a systematic manner in the future.

In our view, each group may choose its own Coordinator and Rapporteur, and carry out its work during the inter-sessional periods, within the limits of what is feasible and achievable.

All these three Working Groups will be guided by the Eleven guiding principles, as already agreed by us and contribute to the development of a normative and operational framework on the emerging technologies in the area of LAWS.  These groups will certainly not be working independently and they will definitely be coordinated by the Chair of the GGE on LAWS. I wish to address a point raised by some colleagues about the difficulties of smaller delegations and which is absolutely correct.  However, nowhere have you said that these groups will meet at the same time or work simultaneously.  At least this is not my understanding.  I am sure all delegations will have an equal chance to participate in the work of all the three groups.

I also clearly recall your having underlined the need to be realistic.  So, I don’t really understand the fears of some of us, who are a bit wary of the pace of our work.  You have conducted the work at a pace comfortable to us during 2019 as we saw, and I see no reason why it will change in future.

Having said that, my delegation is open to working in any configuration, that might be agreed to by this Group by consensus.  However, whatever we do, we must be results oriented, as also suggested by you.

Thank You Mr. Chairperson.

Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva